Hearing of the closing of the Soho watering hole, Ñ, brought back memories of an evening spent in its company.
Having ear-marked it in our guide as being a worthy place to visit, we stumbled in after an evening of internationally renown live jazz (as one does in Manhattan).
Space was cramped and seats scarce, however we managed to manhandle a few bar stools together and later were able to obtain one of the coveted curtained booths – all very atmospheric and gypsy-like, a bit of grubbiness to boot. Ñ was dark, lit almost exclusively by candlelight, which contributed to its spooky air. The staff were sulky and quarreled between themselves – we didn’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to know that in the competitive bar market of NYC, it wouldn’t be around forever.
After sampling a few pale, undercooked finger-food which had nothing to do with the rich culinary traditions of Spain (and, thankfully, a few strong cocktails the barman managed to get out while glowering threateningly at our waitress) we gave up, paid and streamed out, giggling, into the Manhattan night.
Around the corner we found an unpretentious (and authentic) Italian eatery which had jolly waiters and a kitchen that didn’t close.
33 Crosby Street is available for lease now, and it’s funny to think about how transient the places stamped in our memories can be. Many of them sift through the mesh of our crowded recollections, and, like the tangible object of their remembering, are replaced with something more recent, but that night at Ñ, however, remains.