Many may not know this, but back when I was living in Atlanta I was the member of a very violent, much feared gang. L.A. has its Crips and Bloods, my crew was too fierce to have a name. F’real. Equal parts “Boyz in da Hood” and “West Side Story.” Then Ricky and I both moved to New York and the gang disbanded.
Yet, much like Pink Floyd, we found ourselves reunited this week when Jimmy and Blake both came up here for conferences on weaponry and Jerome Robbins choreography. Our friend Jason, also a former Atlantan, lives here now and is going to be an anchorman for LOGO: the brand new gay and lesbian TV network. He used his street cred to land him the job.
I was asked in my role of “Gang Gourmand” to choose a place for us to eat. 44 & X in Hell’s Kitchen on 44th and 10th seemed the perfect choice. Here’s Ricky, Blake, Jason and Jimmy exuding violent energy:
The menu at 44 & X is perfect for a mixed crowd. There are expensive $30 dishes like filet migneon and lamb chops and then more reasonable $12-$14 dishes like macaroni and cheese and their famous hamburger. Starved, the gang broke out into a song suggesting that we start with a crabcake. “When you eat crab you eat crab all the way from your first soft shell crab to your last Oyster Bay.” (Is Oyster Bay a type of crab? I doubt it.)
The crab cake was terrific. We all ate greedily. More singing was suggested, but we stuck to chewing.
Then our entrees arrived. I decided to revisit my Atlanta roots and order fried chicken with waffles and collard greens:
Would you believe this was as good as any fried chicken I ate in Atlanta? Maybe even better. The chicken was soaked in buttermilk so it was freakishly tender; the outside crispy and flavorful. The syrupy waffles provided a nice sweet bready contrast and then the greens made me feel healthy.
The rest of the table “mmm”ed over their dishes until plates were scraped clean, busboys took them away and the waiter brought us a check. We had a knife fight to determine who had to pay what, dropped our cash down, and “snapped” our way out of the restaurant. “I like the island Manhattan,” sang Jimmy.
A boy like that will eat his dinner.