New Place: Two Urban Licks

For the first of our two first anniversary dinners, the wife and I hit TWO Urban Licks. (I like Andisheh’s suggestion that we get two dinners ’cause there’s two of us. In that case, TWO Urban Licks was probably Sara’s dinner.) Admittedly it was our second choice (get it? huh? get it?), after told us we couldn’t get a seat at ONE Midtown Kitchen that night, but we were plenty happy.

If you’ve been out there, you know it’s in kind of a weird spot, behind the Post Office in a big cinderblock box. The valet parking system adds to the sense that you’re Going Somewhere, and the general Sargasso Sea situation in the parking lot said a lot of people were inside that night. If I’d put it together then, I would’ve realized that a gazillion people in a cinderblock box with a live blues band was gonna be loud. But I am an idiot and nothing occurred to me at all, so went in, flexed our reservations and then waited 20 minutes for a table.

If you’d asked me then, I would’ve said I was underwhelmed. The pomegranate infusion thingy I tried had a generic alcohol taste and the clientele was largely unimpressive. To clarify, there were maybe half a million people inside, and only two outfits per gender. Gentlemen, your look comes in shiny blue or stripy off-white. Ladies, your awkward sleeveless cleavage ad also comes in red.

And did I mention the place was loud? The place was loud.

I am so glad I kept an open mind. The service was stellar, the food was outstanding and the vibe improved greatly on the far side of the restaurant, where the two seats at our table faced either the busy open-air kitchen or the brilliant view of the city poking out of overgrown greenery, the kind that reclaims concrete boxes and crumbling parking lots. We both got a view of the magnificently freaky and giant art (of a woman before a humungous wall of taxidermied birds) that rose up twenty feet between row after row of dangling oil lamps. Our seats were both interesting enough that we traded in the middle of the meal, just to sample the alternatives.

Oh, and the food: We were hungry and it was prompt. It was lamb lollipops with jelly, which were as delicious as they were weird. With that, a bunch of Riesling. After, she had the chicken, which was merely good, and I had the duck with andouille sausage and plums, which was so savory I was a little afraid of it. (If you read that last bit without saying “andouille” out loud, say it out loud now. You’ll feel better.) On the one hand, I feel bad for eating animals I like, such as ducks. On the other hand, that duck got himself some fine andouille sausage as a last meal, so he’s pretty lucky all the same. For dessert we had some kind of cupcakes-and-ice-cream-for-two thing that was fun, but pale compared to that duck. Oh, duck.

Anyway, we went and ate and it was loud and excellent and we’ll go back again.

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