I don't know how this blog has gone on this long without an ode to BBQ, also known as Dallas BBQ, also known as "CCP" (Cheap Chicken Place). http://www.bbqnyc.com It's been around about 25 years, and I've been eating there regularly the entire time. It's incredibly cheap, and also good! The portions are humongous. I always get roast chicken (which comes with cornbread, and potato or rice that I don't eat). I used to be obsessed with their vegetable tempura, but not tonight (it would have been too much anyway). Mark and I were each ordering half chickens, when the waiter suggested the early bird special even though it was after 5. Well, sure! Nice of them to bend the rules; it would have been quite reasonable in any case. Mike had the chicken Caesar salad, which looked great and was huge. We stared at neighboring tables' "Texas-sized" drinks (we just had water).
BBQ has expanded from my "home" branch on West 72nd, down the block from the Dakota, to several other locations around the city, most of which I've tried. It's all the same and all good. The only drawback is that it's so popular that it's really noisy - "bowling alley caliber," according to one review, which nevertheless recommended it as a great place to take kids. Also, chicken is sort of messy (which didn't stop me from going there with every boyfriend I've had during this period); they know this and give you wash-and-dries, extra napkins, and extra plates for bones. Mmmmm good!
We waddled out of BBQ to another fairly traditional stop (depending on how quickly we eat): Barnes & Noble. I controlled myself, since I just went on an online book-buying binge (more about that some other time). Then to Avery Fisher, for the pre-concert recital. I made my traditional trip to the at-that-point uncrowded ladies' room up on a higher level (forget it during the regular intermission). The pre-concert featured a young French clarinetist, and a pianist playing Stravinsky, Debussy and Poulenc.
The concert's tenuous theme was "Mozart in Paris" which was an excuse to pair Mozart and Ravel, who were not exactly contemporaries. I've always liked to play modernish French piano music (Debussy, Ravel, Milhaud), so this was good. I had heard Ravel's Mother Goose suite in a concert for piano 4 hands (across the plaza at Lincoln Center Library, in fact), but not the orchestral version. That was followed by a Mozart flute/harp concerto with James Galway and an excellent young British harpist Catrin Finch. After the first cadenza, Galway gave a happy nod to his co-soloist, and the audience agreed, later giving them a thunderous ovation. Sophisticated New York audiences are very good about waiting until a piece is completely over before applauding. Galway and Finch even did a little encore of an Irish folk song.
After intermission, we had the exciting Jean-Yves Thibaudet play the Ravel piano concerto, followed by an almost anticlimactic Mozart symphony (the Paris, in keeping with the theme). The only bad thing about the concert was the reconfiguration of Avery Fisher. They took out several rows, moved up the stage, and added stage seats to approximate a theater in the round. It just seemed crowded and cluttered to me, more like "What did they DO to this hall?"
Afterward, I took my traditional trip to the nearby Food Emporium for slightly expensive groceries with a better selection than stores in my neighborhood. They even had diet V8 Splash.