B is for: Bedford park, Bronx, Bricks, Burgers, Buddies, and Bringin’ it Back home…
written By: Bonnie
You may have noticed in “Meet the Boxcar Girls” that both Tania and my most frequently used train line is the L and since our first End of the Line Dining excursion is on the B train Uptown and we couldn’t transfer at 14th Street off the L (that B is an express!) we decided to add in a dose of nostalgia and start our adventure at the place we first met…
Yes, folks, that there is Hayden Hall. The NYU dormitory, conveniently located near the West 4th B Train. Where in August of 1998, I first met one of my dearest friends. If you don’t know the story: my father and I were in line to move me in to this dorm, 3,000 miles from all that I knew. I had my belongings piled up, and we waited in the sticky sweaty New York August sidewalk stew amongst the other eager freshmen. That was when he discovered my secret tongue piercing and I won’t go into it but I will say that I ended up moving myself into Hayden Hall. And when Tania bumbled into my room (I distinctly remember bumbling), inquiring as to which of our roommates smoked cigarettes, with a hopeful look in her eye, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Tania, with her Parliament Menthols, and I, with my Camel Lights. What followed our first Washington Square Park cigarette together was grocery store wine and Small’s Jazz Club and, after many tears, my eyes were wide open. To this new crazy life and my new crazy friend and this new crazy feeling that buzzed (and maybe bumbled) around inside of me.
So, fourteen and a half years later, last Friday evening, I sat on our smoking bench, across from Hayden Hall, waiting for Tania to arrive and I let that old devil nostalgia sink in, hard. Fourteen and a half years later, Dad and I are good. The tongue piercing didn’t ruin us. In fact I don’t have it anymore, thank goodness. I’ve moved away and come back. And so much has happened that I don’t even know where to begin. On that day, moving in to Hayden Hall, I certainly could not have imagined myself back here with all the in-between years burning under my skin. How can a person? Fourteen and a half years from now we’ll be 47. What will we get nostalgic about then? One of our stats for this blog is to list what we want to accomplish in the course of this project. It was a tough one for both of us to come up with solid goals. And maybe I even copped out on mine a little. You be the judge. But I like to think of ourselves here, fourteen and a half years later: on our marks, getting set. Again. We may be a little older, but heck if we don’t still dance around our rooms to New Order and talk about boys and the future and all that… some things never change. So,
On your marks…
The B train Uptown:
Tania loves envelopes. Did you know that? I just learned it myself! She brought a sealed envelope filled with information on this neighborhood we were to descend upon. And Wikipedia really painted it out to be a little hidden real estate Mecca with inexpensive Victorian houses and green space, Art Deco detailing and even an alcove of Korean restaurants! Mmmmm, we both could have gone for some Korean!
Bedford Park. That’s where we were going. Ready for anything but prepared for a secret wonderland. And maybe kimchi or bibimbap to boot.
We purposefully left a little early so we could hit the neighborhood while it was still light. Our train departed at 5:44pm and we arrived at 6:30pm. Dusk. Which I’ll tell you is my favorite color of sky. When it’s blue and kind of dark purple and it makes you feel all itchy because what will happen when night comes? But Victorian house Mecca, Art Deco and Korean restaurants? Hmmmm… Tania really wants to update Wikipedia.
In all honesty, there wasn’t too much personality in this neighborhood (no offense, we only got a glimpse). In our wanderings we saw those wide Bronx boulevards and brick blocky residential building after brick blocky residential building. And LOTS of dentist’s offices. I did enjoy the kid shooting “hoops” through the fire escape ladder. And we did stumble upon Valentine Avenue which is where Tania’s dog, Peanut, was originally picked up!
But ummmm, no secret Korean restaurants and actually not a lot of food choices unless we wanted fried chicken or pizza.
Here’s the one Victorian House we spotted (ummm):
But we did find a sweet little corner diner (note: my favorite color sky):
And the TV was on final Jeopardy when we sat in our booth. Category: Shakespeare.
Samuel Johnson said Shakespeare “so carefully informs us” that this play is set on the eve of May Day & yet called it this.
I got it right which made me feel smug as a bug.
Bedford Cafe and Restaurant is shaped like an L, with a counter space in the middle and booths all along the window sides of the corner restaurant. The lighting was bright and the patrons were varied: some old timers at the counter, a family with kids climbing over the booth seats, a couple on a date (the lady eating the fettuccine alfredo which after we found this spot, I joked to Tania about being sure they’d have that item on the menu), a solitary woman eating a sandwich and drinking a cup of coffee. Our waitress was sweet and quiet and smiled while we took pictures of ourselves holding the menus and the St. Patrick’s Day decorations stuck up on the windows. We decided immediately we would leave her a very nice tip. The neon OPEN sign cast a faint pink and green glow. Taylor Dayne trickled out of the speakers (to BOTH our delight). It was cozy and not trying to make a statement in any which direction. It was just a place to eat. And those are few and far between in this neighborhood.
So we dove into our menus. Literally. There was a lot to swim through. They were definitely those crazy diner menus where you have to scratch your head and wonder where they keep the ingredients for SO MANY items.
Oh yeah, here’s that picture (during which the waitress was smiling):
We went classic: Guacamole Burger with American cheese and fries for me and a Veggie Burger with mushrooms and Swiss and onion rings for T.
More nostalgia ensued in the flavor of these onion rings. I mean, let’s be real, I didn’t even know what kale was until I was about 21 but I certainly know the flavor of these frozen onion rings from some place deep in my core. After cleaning our plates, we topped’er off with a good old fashioned banana split.
On the train ride home, warm from that guilty pleasure food and two glasses of sweet (as in sugary) Cabernet, we talked about all the things we’ve been talking about for fourteen and a half years: ideas and boys and dreams and funny things and private things.
Bedford Park. Well, all I have to say is if you’ve forgotten what frozen onion rings taste like because you’ve been eating too much dry-aged-macrobiotic-organic-local-heritage-slow food lately, for the love of GAH, do yourself a favor and pick up a bag from the supermarket and share them with an old friend…
Stay tuned for the next installment of End of the Line Dining, when Tania and I take the B train DOWNTOWN to Brighton Beach in two weeks!
*Bonnie received a text message from Tania last night after reading this entry that said: “I do love envelopes, but I extra love pouches and pencils.” Let the record show…
This was so fun to read! I love the narrative approach, rich with nostalgia. Got eat at more places so I can read about it!!
You guys! This is fucking awesome! Especially knowing how busy both of you are, I love that you’re taking the time to explore and reflect! Can’t wait for more!