As is true with all NYC restaurants, the facade was not much to boast about; we hardly even noticed the restaurant when we walked by. Once inside we almost turned around because the majority of what we saw was wine, and we were in more of a food mood. But, we decided to give it a shot anyway. Our table was a tiny little table in the back with an interesting property: Its occupants (us) were closer to our table neighbors than we were to each other. Indeed I had my ruler safely nestled in my sock and I pulled it out to get a more exact reading. Here's what I found:
- Distance from Caity to me (the length of the table): 24 inches, or 2 feet.
- Distance from me to the stranger sitting at the table next to me: 8 inches, or 3/4 of a foot.
They lady to my left was a little bemused as to why I was asking her to hold still so that I could put a ruler flush with her elbow. She was again perturbed when I had to ask her to keep it down so that I could hear my tablemate to the front (Caity) as she recounted to me the story of Jonah and the Belly of the Whale, which seemed appropriate since we were in a Mediterranean restaurant. Luckily our dinner guests did not stay much longer after we sat down, perhaps because we started picking at their food after it appeared they were finished (apparently they weren't). We assumed since we were basically sharing a table with them we ought to eat Family Style. They did not share this sentiment. When they did get up to pay, however, they did something really interesting. The man pulled out a clump of tin foil from his coat pocket and proceeded to unwrap it. What was it going to be? Leftovers from last night's dinner? A space helmet? A giant Hershey's kiss? As you'd have it, he pulled out a wad of bills. He had a whole bunch of 20s all wadded up in his tin foil. It was hundreds of dollars, but apparently not enough for the meal because his wife then pulled out her own wad of bills and contributed two 20s to the cause. At this Caity and I grew a little nervous. What if L'ybane only accepted cash wrapped in tin foil? Would they laugh at us if we tried to pay with bills kept in a leather wallet? Would they refuse to serve us because of our more traditional practices? We decided to ask our waiter, and luckily she informed us that any kind of money was acceptable- US dollars, Canadian dollars, Lebanese pounds, or even Indian rupees.
There was another couple seated at a table behind us that also helped make the experience one that I will not soon forget. The couple consisted of a gentleman with U-shaped baldness and a ponytail of white hair falling down his neck. His date was a younger woman who did not seem to fit in quite right. Then, another couple showed up who were obviously friends with the man. The new man had brought along a foldup chair/cane with him, because you never know when you'll be seated at a restaurant in NYC and there just won't be enough seats at the table. Never mind overcrowdedness with you tablemates a mere 8 inches away! The woman was also a hoot. It looked like she was trading World of Warcraft cards, but then Caity used her insanely good eyes to see that they were actually VIP passes. So... then I didn't think they were quite as weird as originally thought.
Anyway, we enjoyed the restaurant and felt like we got an authentic NYC experience. I have no idea what we ate or how to pronounce it, or if it was a meat, a vegetable, or a wine, but it was delicious. Next time you're up on eighth avenue, be sure to check it out! L'ybane!