We always carry cash—don’t tell the muggers, but we do. New York is a cash city, and when we are without cash, we will most definitely need it. Today was that day.
Earlier this week, I made a date to go to Barney Greengrass at 86th and Amsterdam. I have talked about eating at this 100-year-old establishment for years. I thought that now is as good a time as any.
We had a short fifteen minute wait, and then we were seated. After a brief description of the menu, we placed our order, but the waiter insisted that we try the latkes. These were a weekend special and NOT on the menu. Mike’s arm was twisted, but he agreed. Whatever we couldn’t eat, we would take it home for later.
Matzoh ball soup, potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream, scrambled eggs with nova, bagels and bialys….what more could any New Yorker want for brunch on a cold January day? The food was incredibly fresh and the service didn’t disappoint. I love the fact that there is absolutely nothing “nouveau” about this restaurant. It is a slice of the city from a different time and place.
I devoured our smorgasbord of Kosher delicacies in what seemed like minutes. There would be no leftovers. As I took my last bite of bialy with cream cheese and gravlax, the thought of cash only crossed my mind. I didn’t notice anything on the menu or see any signage, but often older places of business in the city do not accept credit cards. I though if we put our funds together, we could get it covered. After being married for almost twelve years, “going Dutch” is somewhat acceptable.
I spotted the manager on the way to the cashier, and he assured me that it was definitely “CASH ONLY”. Mike and I got to the counter and we emptied our wallets. The bill was $53.65, and with pockets turned inside out and coins included, we had just $52.35! How embarrassing. Luckily, our bank was just two blocks away, so Mike made a mad dash, while I held the check. Then I had a thought. I wonder how often this happens to others–especially tourists or even business travelers who expense most everything and use a credit card? How many other Greengrassers have dashed to the cash machine after breakfast? Furthermore, how often does this happen at other cash-only restaurants in New York City?
Let this be a lesson to all of us: residents, tourists, travelers, and the etcetera bunch too. When in Manhattan, always keep a minimum of $53.65 in your wallet. Sometimes those latkes are simply too good to pass up.