One, Two, Three, Ko On Thursday, I went to poker in Chelsea. Because I would be spending the evening with the guys, smoking, drinking, and gambling, I told my girlfriend that beforehand, we should meet for dinner. Very near the place where I'd be playing poker is a well-reviewed pizza place by the name of Co. (I think it's pronounced "Company.") Consonants being what they are, I wound up deciding to check out Ko instead. I've written about Momofuku Ko a coupleof times before--the two times I've gone before have been the tastiest most delirious inventive meals I've had in my life. So when I saw that there was an open reservation for the 15 course lunch tasting menu on Sunday, I snatched it up and told my girlfriend we were going, but consequently could not eat a fine meal on Thursday night. I'm not made of money, you know.
I don't know if announcing and then canceling a nice pre-poker meal to go to Ko makes me a better or worse boyfriend. I think it probably winds up as a wash. Anyway, we went dutch to Chelsea Market, and then I went on to play poker for four hours and come out 25 cents behind where I started the evening.
And but so we woke up and went to Ko on a Sunday morning. And again, Ko was very good. I didn't take notes on the meal, and I had the alcohol tasting, so my memory for details is a bit spotty, food-wise. I will say that the biggest complaint that I had was, because it was a 15 course tasting menu, the serving of shaved foie gras over Reisling gelee was smaller than a dinner portion, and thus, "less good" in the most literal sense of the words.
However, what we couldn't help but noticing was how precisely and rigidly defined the music selection was during the meal. It was as artificially limited and fussy as the food was creative and fresh. Here's what defines the music selection of a hip-but-four-star-but-hip restaurant.
Songs that are beloved by Pitchfork. (Ko's example: "Fake Empire," by The National)
Songs from acclaimed artists, but not from their most acclaimed albums. (Ko's example: Radiohead, but nothing from OK Computer, of course. The Radiohead tracks were from either Kid A or Amnesiac).
Classic Rock, but once again, not from the big popular albums. The Rolling Stones are okay, but not the Rolling Stones songs featured in any Scorsese movies--Stones songs from Wes Anderson movies are alright, though. Practically, this means that Exile on Main Street is the safest choice.
In a similar vein, obscure tracks from artists who are due for a reappraisal. (Ko's example: Tom Petty).
Surprisingly, there was no Bruce Springsteen. If there had been, it almost definitely would have been off of Greetings from Asbury Park.
Nothing too depressing or discordant: No Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, or even Bob Dylan (this rule could be shortened to: No terrible singers).
The entire thing seemed so forced that we were constantly being taken out of the meal to comment on the music. Oh, of course we should have guessed that song! Luckily, the meal was so uniformly wonderful that it was totally worth it.