Another One Bites The Dust: El Charro RIP

September 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

El Charro is gone. Closed. It was a charming Greenwich Village landmark at 4 Charles Street. El Charro originated as a Mexican restaurant and then morphed into a Spanish restaurant in 1959. And that’s when HG became a steady customer until leaving for Colorado with BSK in 1986. SJ (aka HG’s son) filled HG’s vacated seat and continued to frequent El Charro for years until it closed a few months back (its demise came to HG’s attention today). El Charro was the essence of Greenwich Village a half century ago. The Village had Inexpensive apartments inhabited by journalists, fledgling copywriters, painters, musicians, theater folk, embryonic novelists and playwrights, young emigres from the midwest (BSK among them) etc. El Charro was a happy place with a Village communal feeling. After one visit, the waiters treated you like a friend. Thankfully, it was inexpensive as HG and BSK had limited financial resources long ago. The food was garlicky, hearty and tasty. Typical HG/BSK meal was an appetizer of spicy chorizo followed by scallops (or shrimp) in green sauce. Finale of Spanish fried chicken. Lots of saffron rice. Flan for dessert. Mucho sangria and magaritas. There were always pals or acquaintances in the room, adding a joyous element to the dining. All gone. Gone as an older New York fades into memory. Fortunately, Sevilla, another Village Spanish restaurant still operates. HG/BSK enjoyed their huge platters of paella and arroz con pollo. HG presumes Sevilla prices are no longer those of the 1960s.

Joy And Sadness

April 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

A wonderful musical evening at the home of Polly B. and David F. — delightful, life enhancing friends and neighbors. In attendance was guitarist Marc Yaxley and vocalist/percussionist Julie Hawkins who sang and played for the assembled crowd from Tesuque, Jacona and Santa Fe. HG/BSK nibbled excellent cheeses and drank red wine as the beautiful sounds reverberated off the spacious living room’s adobe walls. Yaxley is one of the country’s best guitarists and he showed the instrument’s versatility by playing everything from Spanish and Mexican classics to Charley Parker and Duke Ellington jazz compositions. (Yes, the guitar is capable of illuminating early bebop). An HG neighbor told the food authority he was planning a trip to New York City and wanted to eat in some Greenwich Village eateries that had retained the old bohemian ambiance of the Village. HG recommended two places specializing in Spanish cuisine—El Faro on Horatio Street in the West Village and El Charro on Charles Street. Similar menus–chorizo, paella, seafood in garlicky green sauce. A heavy hand with garlic. Savory pork chops and fried chicken. Platters of saffron rice. Big pitchers of cheap sangria. HG/BSK enjoyed many festive evenings in these joints. When HG returned home from the music, HG looked up these restaurants on the internet because old time dining venues are increasingly vulnerable to the New York real estate monsters. Sadness. El Faro has been closed for some two years. Located in a very old building, El Faro was fighting a losing battle with mice and was shut down by the city’s health inspectors. The good news is that El Charro still flourishes. HG/BSK will round up some family members when next in New York and dine there. Sangria and smiles are anticipated.

Marc Yaxley

Marc Yaxley

One Shots

July 19th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Many decades ago, HG frequented a colorful bar in Manhattan’s theater district — Harold’s Show Spot. It was a hangout of actors (Ben Gazzara, Anthony Franciosa, Shelley Winters), directors, stage managers, etc. On the walls were sardonic photos and posters celebrating playwrights who had only one play that made it to Broadway — Michael Gazzo (“Hatful of Rain”); Donald Bevan and Ed Trzcinski (“Stalag 17”), etc. The display was known as The Wall of the One Shots. Recently, HG thought about “The Wall” in terms of one shot restaurants that are generally indifferent but do one thing outstandingly well. In New York there was a (name forgotten) French restaurant in the East 30s that was uniformly mediocre except for an outstanding roast pigeon (served rare, of course). El Charro, a trapped-in-amber Spanish/Mexican joint that served (and still serves!) homogenized, bland Mexican food alongside a wonderful, steaming, garlicky pot of shrimp (or scallops) in green sauce. An un-named Cuban sandwich place in Washington Heights that presented a sublime platter of butterflied shrimp, deep fried and accompanied by black beans and rice. Many more. Sauteed fish in tofu skin wrappers at a Chinese restaurant on Chatham Square. Blintzes at Ratner’s and kasha varnishkes at Rappaport’s — two (now-shuttered)Lower East Side standouts. Sturgeon and eggs at Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side. In Santa Fe, HG orders one dish at Santacafe — perfect fried calamari. In Denver, HG always has succulent roast chicken at Potager and avoids the rest of the menu. In Paris, HG has bouillabaisse at Charlot: Roi des Coquillages (everything else on the carte is indifferent or overpriced.) Grilled pig’s foot with sauce bearnaise (certainly) at Pied de Cochon. And, New Jersey’s Belmont Tavern (located in Belleville) needn’t have a menu at all as it offers only one transcendent, must-travel-to-taste, inimitable dish — Stretch’s Chicken Savoy.


Friends.. Food, Wine And Laughter. Who Could Ask For Anything More?

May 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A life enhancing, talented and fun loving quartet has been visiting HG and BSK. Here’s the cast: Donald K. and Bruce M., HG’s and BSK’s former business colleagues. Donald K’s wife, Susan, a former investment banker and Bruce M.’s companion, Theresa T., former senior executive at Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart. These are folks who know and enjoy food and wine. So, what was on the table? Friday night there was a platter of Middle Eastern appetizers and then a Mariscada (Spanish seafood stew) of mussels, shrimp, scallops, much garlic and parsley cooked in fish stock, white wine and the juice from canned asparagus — a surprising secret ingredient gleaned from New York’s El Charro. Washed it down with glasses of Rose, Pinot Grigio and Barbera.

Light salad lunch on Saturday at Santa Fe’s Santacafe. Dinner was a feast at the much posted about “O” — Eating House. Appetizers of fried zucchini and home-made mozzarella with the first stewed cherries of the season; chorizo and roasted garlic; chunks of unusually spiced corn on the cob. Mini portions of strozzapreti (a name which translates to priest stranglers) in a beef cheeks sauce. Main dishes of duck confit and grilled quail accompanied by a sweet corn risotto. Dessert: bread pudding and creme brulee. Much Champagne, San Giovese, Malbec and Chianti flowed (possibly too much flowed in HG’s direction).

Brunch the next day on the sunny terrace featured BSK’s egg and cheese casserole. Farewell dinner tonight at Gabriel’s. Margaritas. Guacamole (best in New Mexico). Fajitas. Charro beans. Sopapillas. Sangria. Flan. Ole!!! And then, sadly, adios.Photo Courtesy of Steven Nereo

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