Last night, we took a date to Wakiya, the new high-end Chinese restaurant at Ian Schrager's Gramercy Park Hotel. The first thing one notices upon entering the space is the strong scent of burning oolong tea. ("It's behind the banquettes," the waiter proudly explained.) The second thing is the tapestried walls. Thirdly, that all the bubble dresses that the women are wearing creepily match the tapestries. (Earth tones, so hot right now!) Fourthly: Good gravy, that's Anna Wintour! Wait, is it? It is! And that's when we leaned on our table, ill-advisedly, and the matte black china plates crashed to the ground. From her perch at the banquette, Anna Wintour did not look impressed. Neither did our date. House music gently played in the background. "Oh God," we thought, "is this what disaster sounds like? A crash and then some some synthesizers?"
This is the place right now to brag about how hard it is to get a table. When you call, they're always fully booked. So hot! But at least half the tables were empty and we were still seated in a small awkward table in what felt like a hallway. The only advantage is that we could see the parade of attractive, skinny women walk by with their striped-shirt clean-shaven consorts. One of these men was almost literally juggling two Blackberries and a iPhone. Another, less clean-shaven one was Randy Quaid, who was there with two older ladies. That man is at least a nine-footer.
The menu at Wakiya isn't for the faint of financial heart. The waiter, it must be said, did little to steer us to the more affordable options, consistently recommending the most expensive dishes. The lobster is great, he said. Also it's 34 dollars. $30 bite-size portions made up the rest of the menu. We started with the Taste of Wakiya, nine confusing little portions and then went on to soup dumplings, which looked like little floury breasts in their bamboo container.
Somewhere between our penultimate and ultimate courses (a Vietnamese coffee affogato), perpetual aged socialite Lady Cavendish walked in with beblazered gentlemen. One of these was the frog-like and fabulous Hunt Slonem who owns a couple of plantations in the south and some ridiculously huge studio in Manhattan. You know, the one with 86 rooms. I said all these things to my date but I feared little I did could make up for the fact I had broken hundreds of dollars of china in the first few moments of our meeting and also had chosen to dine at what was basically a really, really expensive noodle joint.
We paid the bill and left. So did Anna Wintour. On the way out, the crickets chirping in the hot night of Gramercy Park, we passed some guy yelling into his phone about Bryan Ferry.