People will talk of the Cornelia Street Café in 50 years. They'll tell you it was one of the last redoubts where culture and food existed in perfect harmony, and that it was the place where conversation never died. They'll speak of the owner, Robin Hirsch, as a remarkable man who defied the creeping homogenisation of the 21st century to create a place where you could eat well, drink wonderful wine and see the most astonishing variety of shows. Oh yes, and if you're lucky, you may also meet brilliant poets, thinkers, scientists, musicians and artists into the bargain. It's that kind of venue.
The food is really pretty good. No, not Michelin standard, but reasonably priced and reliable. If you don't try the coconut shrimps, you're either allergic or perverse - they are absolutely gorgeous. The wine is exceptional - a really interesting and far longer list than in many a posh establishment. The staff are a delight - chatty, funny, clever - and they seem awfully glad to serve you.
And downstairs, in their long tunnel of a cellar/theatre/speakeasy/bar - er, performing space? - you can hear and see the most bamboozling array of events. Events is a dull word, but I don't know what else to call them, because they range from talks on science through jazz and cabaret to Romanian poetry. But all accessible to mere mortals. And 700 shows a year. Yep. 700 shows a year. And a sound system of such perfection that even this grumpy old performer was blown away.
So go go go. And don't just go to eat. Go to hang out, and imagine what New York might have been like when Kerouac was just around the corner and Lenny Bruce was giving his schtick up the road. Go to save your sanity and defy the Trumpification of New York. The world needs the Cornelia Street Café and its like.
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