The Black and White of It
The Maître D’ at La Favorite stopped by my table yesterday to joke with me that I should stop working and for once take a brief repose. It’s not the first time a French café worker tried to get me to stop working…while they were working themselves, but they see me tapping away on the computer keys without stop, while eating with one hand and typing with the other so as not to miss a beat. I was working on my memoir and loving every cathartic minute of conjuring up the past, both pleasant and painful. A few times I grabbed for tissues while getting choked up over some tidbit that came flying into my memory without warning.
I go there often to eat, drink and write on my computer because 1) I like the food, 2) there are plugs everywhere and 3) there is WiFi. Plus, the atmosphere is nice, the wait staff is very pleasant and the views of what’s going on at Saint-Paul from any table are really good. La Favorite is part of the “chain” to which Café Charlot belongs, along with St. Regis on the Ile Saint-Louis, Paris-London at Madeleine and several others around town that have similar decor…what I think of as a French café in New York. They are all similar, but different in that each has a different menu and different clientele of course, but all have an internationally minded approach to café life. You won’t get booted out for staying all day on just the price of a cup of coffee.
I rarely go to any of these during the evening, however — when I am NOT working! For something much more elegant and relaxing, I like to stop in at Club RaYé from time to time, where one can get totally lost in the black and white stripes and be surprised with something new that American owner Kein Cross has added or changed. This is a guy with so many ideas and so much energy that he and his club are in constant motion. I can barely keep up.
Saturday his Maître D’ led four of us through a door located behind where the DJ was spinning his disks (in a matter of speaking), having to part a rack of clothing (all black and white of course), then up a narrow flight of stairs through the floor of a bedroom (like a hinged trap door/floor, and black of course) into the apartment above the club. It’s like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Kein calls it his “Appartement Privé” which doubles as his private apartment; now morphed into a new space for private parties of the most luxurious kind (or should I say “luxurious Kein?”). It’s all black and white stripes of course.
He brought us all champagne in beautiful flutes each topped with a fresh strawberry, added a plate of hors d’oeuvres before we ordered up many plates of goodies on which to indulge ourselves (including a burger cut into quarters), all the while trying to take in every detail. No matter where you look, Kein’s striped touch touches — he has left no detail undetailed and his design sense is untouchable by any other. The atmosphere is divine and the cuisine was even more delectable. To say we were overwhelmed is an underwhelming statement.
Kein’s working on another club, but this time in New York. By sheer coincidence, he and my daughter live on the same street in the West Village and the club will be in the immediate neighborhood, so we’ll both have the pleasure of his creative juices. Here in Paris he’s been battling with city officials to give him the license to create a terrace on the corner of rues Dussoubs and St. Sauveur opposite the club — a big improvement over what is there now. According to Cross, most of the terraces on which we have our drinks are illegal, because the city grants so few licenses.
Cross looks like a man who has not lost sleep over all the administrative hurdles he must make to be in business in France, over which there are daily jumps to make. I can assure you that to have accomplished what he has accomplished with so any adversarial rules, regulations and policies is a virtual miracle that only a tough New Yorker like him could endure, and endure so gracefully.
One day, he’ll be writing his memoir, too, no doubt.
Special Note: I’ll be there again on the 14th of September to hear Jilann O’Neill sing as part of Rose Reyes’ Salon Sessions. Visit the site to learn more or stop by Club RaYé, have drinks on the main level, downstairs (that is equally amazing!) or upstairs in his new Appartement Privé) and indulge on his culinary delights, and be sure to tell Kein that Adrian sent you!)!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(at Club RaYé)
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