Saturday, February 13, 2010

China Chalet

Yesterday night, out on the town with my favorite party peeps, I keep hearing we're going to a party at a place called China Shelly, that I've never heard from before. After many a frantic iphone call, it is determined that this thing, whatever it is, is on Broadway and Broad St, down at the tip of our magnificent island, where fortunes are made by few and lost by many, every day.
So a most fearless and enterprising friend gets the nine of us into a limo waiting outside Balthazar.
Driver: You called for me?
Fearless and enterprising friend (lying): Yes.
Eight bucks a pop to ride to our destination in style, yet with a delicious frisson of embarrassment (are we a little long in the tooth for this?), and for some, bittersweet prom memories, but, admit it, pretty much everybody having a ball. Some riders demand the limo stop at the corner before, to avoid looking like douches (needless to say there isn't a certified douche in this group, so I don't understand their concern). They can cover their faces a la Lindsay Lohan when she steps out of cars without her panties, for all I care, but we rode a tacky limo and by tacky limo shall we arrive.
So it turns out that the mysterious China Shelly is something called China Chalet (am I going deaf?), which makes more sense, if not decor-wise, for China Chalet is one of those Chinese restaurants where the idea of elegance seems to have sprung from the mind of a Beijing bureaucrat, circa 1975. 
We are greeted by a longish line of mellowish arty type supplicants at a carpeted staircase. The two-headed Cerberus at the top of the stairs is comprised by a young stairmistress wearing some sort of one-armed fur a la Fred Flinstone, and by the best bouncer out of Central Casting I have ever come across.  He has to be Eye-talian. He wears his jet black hair with a black suit and a black shirt and a yellow satin tie. His face is lined with deep creases, I'd like to venture as a result to dumping way too many bodies in the East River. But he is suave. He cracks wise. He means business. His idea of humor is to tell someone they can proceed, and then say, "just kidding". He tells a group of nine that only five can make it in (why do they do this shit, bouncers?) But in the end we all get in without waiting too long or supplicating too much, once again through the ministrations of our fearless and enterprising friend, who seduces Yellow Tie with her wily charms.
The moment we step into the place, number one, and as is usually the case, it's not as full as the guards outside would have it, and number two, it looks like a Bar Mitzvah. Not because of the age of the people (although a lot do look like tweens), but because of the space, which is a generic banquet space with tables covered in white cloths. Relaxed arty types sit and talk quietly; a most urbane and well behaved crowd.
There is a bar space, where an endless loop of Billy Joel's greatest hits is playing (highlight: New York State of Mind), and when that is not happening, some old fashioned Cuban music I suspect is the province of the old bartender, also out of Central Casting, who moves at the speed of silence. For some unexplained reason, the bar is not chock full of thirsty types, and ordering and drinking is a leisurely and enjoyable affair. Way in the back, a carpeted room has been made into a dance floor, (not only comfy, but not as noisy), and a dj is spinning solidly good dance music. It's a great place to have a party and the only Chinese restaurant I've ever been to with nary an egg roll in sight. No semblance of food whatsoever, which, to judge from the look of things at China Chalet, may not necessarily be a bad thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment