For the past couple days, I have been cogitating and scheming, figuring out how I was going to play out my final evening meal in New York. Make another stealth attack on Babbo? Try to nab one of the four bar seats at The Little Owl? My foodie coworker Ramona had also sent me off with a list of suggestions, mainly in the west Chelsea/Meatpacking District area. I was armed with an embarassment of choices.
But first I had arranged to meet up with my friend David for a drink. We arrived at the bar within seconds of one another, at which point he asked whether I had dinner plans. I was delighted to have the opportunity to share a meal and some quality time with him, but it threw me at first into a bit of a quandary. One person scoring a bar seat at a place like Babbo can be dodgy enough, but for two the odds are exponentially inverse. I didn't want to be bossy or demanding (or as he says, play top daddy), so I asked whether he had any suggestions. He mentioned Tía Pol, and my heart lifted. It was at the top of Ramona's recommendations. Corroboration inspires confidence.
It's not to say that landing a seat at Tía Pol is any less challenging than at other popular spots. The restaurant is teeny weeny, long and narrow with roughly 10 seats at the bar in front, a handful of two-tops lining the wall opposite the kitchen and, I think, one sole four-top in the very back. They don't take reservations. By the time we got there, right around 6 pm, the place was already full. At first we were told a 30-45 minute wait, though we could vie for a seat at the bar. And then, as if by magic, they got us onto one of the two-tops within minutes. Score.