Yesterday, we got invited at an event called Death in the afternoon at Raoul's, a French restaurant located on Prince St in Soho. This event is an interesting concept: inspired by classical art salons, Ward 8 founders, Fay Leshner and Andrew Ousley, bring together various artists in a single location around one theme. Death in the afternoon, makes you travel to the prohibition era, a time that, as a Frenchman, I have always seen as unique, fascinated by the stories and related movies or TV series such as The Untouchables or more recently Boardwalk Empire. It is a period that I cannot imagine happening in France. Yes, it was interesting to see such event in a French restaurant, considering that trying to impose some ban on alcohol there would have resulted in riots, if not another revolution, apéritif or a glass of wine during a meal being sacred there! But, I quickly understood why: first of all, the decor of the place has this retro feel, with some paintings of naked women that would probably shock those who are the more puritanical of us.
Then, they have a hidden room that you would never find unless someone told you: you can find it in the back of the kitchen, passing like a secret door as it would have been the case in a speakeasy.
To set the right atmosphere for the event, a popular New York jazz band, The Grand St. Stompers performed during this wonderful afternoon, making us forget the outside world for a moment (especially that terrible heat that day).
So, so far we got the location, the art and music. The only things missing are food and booze! I'll start with the latter.
The first cocktail I tried was the Pastis La Mule Verte, a dry, artisanal pastis served with an absinthe spoon topped with two sugar cubes and some water. Pastis is a well known apéritif, especially in South of France, where I lived many years, often associated with the city of Marseille where I was born. So, drinking it brought back some memories. If you never had pastis, know that, like anisette, pure, it has a golden color and then, when you add some water to it, the color changes and becomes yellowish, almost milky.
The second cocktail was the watermelon au poivre, made with vodka, absinthe, watermelon purée, fresh basil and fresh black pepper. This was a fantastic drink: delicious and refreshing, the watermelon standing out more than the vodka, making this cocktail quite dangerous as you would sip it like any Jamba Juice drink.
Food wise, we tried few amuse bouche:
Wagyu au poivre
Smoked salmon toast
These amuse were really good and my favorite was for sure the wagyu au poivre: the meat was tender and that sauce was sublime, with the right touch of black pepper, i.e. not overwhelmingly peppery to the point where it makes you cough, the pepper sticking in the back of your throat. In fact, writing this post, I discovered that they are known for their steak au poivre and it made me want to go back and try it...
We had a great time at Raoul's: I think that bringing together artists from various horizons to create a unique event is a genius idea, even more when one of the arts concerns my stomach... Thanks Fay and Andrew from Ward 8 for this wonderful time.
Enjoy (I did)!
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