R Train Uptown

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R is for: Reconnecting, Rendezvousing, Reminiscing

wRitten by: Bonnie

guest photographer: Bertie Pearson (serving black and white REALNESS)

Throughout my life I’ve been a collector of people. The wild ones, the sad ones, the tricksters, the pranksters, the lovers, the mischief makers, the music makers. The ones I trust with everything and the ones I trust with just the little bits and pieces. The ones that make my heart burst or break or bubble. Once you’re in, you’re in. I keep you. Maintaining my collection of friendships makes my life richer, more interesting, more entertaining.

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The most recent End of the Line Dining excursion included a cast of characters from a couple periods in my life and while sometimes worlds colliding can be awkward, this was a perfect combination of personality, adventurous spirit, open-mindedness and the up-for-anything mentality that is key for this project.

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Allow me to introduce the rail riders that joined Tania and me this time up the R Line:

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Bertie and Little Sarah hail from the wild days of San Francisco. The days of Prince houses, Ghost Orchids, Cat Clubs and Arrow Bars, Bordellos, dancing, debauchery, after parties, secret swimming pools, weekends of white, late night declarations… The friendships have since mutated into something real solid, even grown-up.

Bertie officiated my wedding. I was a groomsman at his. We like to talk about life and love and scholarly things and music and words and it’s just grown into one of my most valued friendships. And of course we have the same initials (BP!)

Little Sarah was the photographer at my wedding (10 years ago Friday! Whoa!) and we were definitely closer in the San Francisco days but I keep her in my collection too. How could you not? She’s just so charming and fun. She has an awesome magazine called PUT A EGG ON IT that we here at End of the Line Dining fully endorse (www.putaeggonit.com). She brought her lovely lady friend, Jen, a very sweet and interesting gal who works as a personal chef and has done cool social work projects in Thailand among other things, I’m sure.

My friendship with James Long (visiting NYC from London) certainly has its roots in debauchery as well: one weekend of skinny dipping and psychedelics over the Fourth of July so I could really show him how to celebrate my favorite American holiday and an unforgettable camping trip to Stonehenge where I fell on my back like a cockroach and was thus inducted into the Hackney Slags—just to name a couple.

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But as I’m prone to nostalgia and you’re probably sitting there thinking yeah yeah get on with it and get to the adventure, I will honor the intentions of this blog and not slip into tooooo much reminiscing. Though I’ve known all these people for so many years, it’s hard.

On to the here and now….

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We met up in Union Square to grab the R train Uptown.

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We were all abuzz with that New York springy feeling and the itch of adventure. We thought we were going to Jamaica. In fact, at 3 in the morning Bertie, Rahel (his missus) (wish you could have joined us!) and I were looking up the Wikipedia entry on Jamaica. On the train ride up there, Tania peeped at the map and said, “You want to know something funny?” Yes, always. “We’re not going to Jamaica.” Yeah, pretty funny.

Note what it says on the sign above our heads in the following picture, snapped while waiting for the R Train:

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Yep. R Train to Forest Hills. Plain as day.

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The train ride took 39 minutes, getting us there at 4pm.

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Let me tell you, we were transported into another world once we got off at the end of the line. Have you ever been to Forest Hills? It’s gorgeous! After the dearth of restaurant choices Tania and I were up against in Bedford Park and the strangeness of the velvet roped restaurants in Bay Ridge, we kind of felt like we struck gold. It was hoppin’!

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We wound deeper into the magic land of Forest Hills. I don’t really know how to describe architecture without comparing it somehow to The Lord of the Rings so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Yeah, that’s really New York City. I wondered what it looked like at Halloween and Tania wondered what it looked like at Christmas. What does that say about us? James commented that it seemed like we had stepped into England. And yeah, it felt that way.

We strolled back to Austin Street which seemed to be Restaurant Row (Austin Street? Bertie lives in Austin. Good omen, we thought). While we were pondering which direction to go, this lady asked us what we were looking for

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and then directed us to the spot she had just hit for lunch: Pinang. She closed her eyes as she spoke as if visualizing our walk there (“Your landmark will be the fire station on the right”) and then continuing to visualize the deliciousness in store for us.

Malaysian food! Perfect!

Though since I am celebrating my ten year anniversary of marriage to an Argentinean man, we probably should have gone here:

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This is what it looked like inside:

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But Pinang was the recommendation and we took it!

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Hmmmmm…. What should we get???

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We went family style, duh. I could totally go off on a rant about people that don’t like to share food but I will mind my manners right now and just say I was with the perfect dining companions that were ready to taste EVERYTHING! And here are some things that we ordered:

Thai Fish Cake (yummy little bite-sized pieces with sweet chile sauce)

Satay Bean Curd (stuffed with cucumber and smothered with peanut sauce)

Achat (pickled things)

Roti (bread thing with curry dipping sauce)

Kerabu Mango (spicy!)

House Special Sizzling Bean Curd with ground pork, shrimp and vegetables (SIZZLING!)

Chow Kueh Teow (noodles)

Pineapple Shrimp (sweet and satisfying)

Chicken with lady fingers in Belachen sauce (imagine Little Sarah saying “lady fingers” and keep your giggles to yourselves)

And “Server’s Choice” (he chose this yummy crunchy noodle dish in gravy. More creative than our last server who chose the spinach pie. Although when we asked what his favorite dish was, he did say it was plain rice.) (Okay, the plain rice was delicious.)

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Let’s look at the food pics and start drooling into our iPhones or wherever you’re reading this blog from.

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We, of course, did more reminiscing. We tried to figure out at what point James and Bertie had maybe met and thought it could have been at Eagle the Terrorizer but that discussion came up non-conclusive. We talked about ballet schools and travels and Chavs and lamb face sandwiches and Texan cuisine and our middle names (Forbes, Lee, Claybourn, Michael, Jeanien, and Brooke). We didn’t hear any Taylor Dayne but “Brown-Eyed Girl” played when we sat down and I took that as a good sign too. My brain was a little mushy from the fun weekend and as we talked about food we like to eat and what we don’t, I said, “I like really dirty tasting things.” You can imagine how that statement became a recurring joke for the rest of the meal.

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Tania became obsessed with the idea of anagramming the letters in our name so I gave my best shot at Tania Lee Ryalls and she took a crack at Bonnie Brooke Pipkin. I came up with: ANAL REALLY TIES. And she came up with something like: POOP BONE BIKE IN RINK. I don’t know what it says about us that I spotted the word anal and she spotted the word poop and that’s what we decided to work around, but I think it says something good.

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I tried Bertie Claybourn Pearson too and got: BUT BONNIE, PEARS REALLY CRY. That, in turn, reminded Tania of the children’s book, Rat Stew by Craig Silvis:

 Sue was an apple and Peter a pear. They sat in a fruit bowl with hardly a care. But along came an orange who started to gripe, saying Susan had worms and Pete was too ripe.

That’s pretty cute.

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Nerdy word games and children’s books and delicious food and good company? Yes please. We tossed back some Singhas and some glasses of white wine and we feasted like kings. Afterward, we all sort of felt that exhausted feeling you get after a day at the beach. I like to think of us as adventurers after a successful sea voyage. As we were strolling back to the train, James said: “There’s something about this blog that makes you feel quite young.” (Imagine that with a British accent).

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And it’s true. Maybe it’s the incessant nostalgia that, sorry folks, I probably will always fall back on in this project. I think food really lends itself to nostalgia. Maybe it’s the fuck it, let’s go somewhere and look for fun feeling. Maybe it’s the fact that we aren’t relying on our phones for directions—looking up instead of down. Maybe it’s just that feeling of being with your friends and not being on a schedule of any kind. But yes, it does kind of make you feel young. At least it makes you feel free. And that’s the best.

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I love my funny collection of friends.

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I think I’ll keep ‘em.


Tania and I are back at it in two weeks. I hesitate to say we’ll be taking the B Train downtown the next trip because that’s what we always seem to say but we are going to try to finally make it down to Brighton Beach. Stay tuned to the Boxcar Girls’ adventures to see if that pans out.


1 thought on “R Train Uptown

  1. An Na

    The food looks so drool drool delicious! But even more fun is your group of friends. Delightful! I want to be a guest diner someday.


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