We are told by commercials, greeting cards or well-versed adults the familiar adage: the best things in life are free.
It’s possible these sentimentalists are onto something. There are rewarding experiences aplenty that do not come with a price tag. Seeing a smile on the face of someone you care about is pretty nice. Making them laugh is better. Finishing a term paper comes with a pleasant euphoria – until the next due date. I for one am desperately looking forward to the warmth of my mom’s hugs at the upcoming holidays (homesickness is a different kind of debt). These things are free.
If I continued on this train of thought, I’d be just another commercial. My point is, the best things may be free, but the second-best things come at half off.
Case in point: my shoe obsession, more specifically, sneakers. My first three years of college and, concurrently, my first three years of having my own bank account, reflected this. With my newfound wisdom at the ripe old age of 21 going on 22, I find it necessary to limit my spending and repress my fixation. But all work and no play make Jenny a dull (and sneaker-less) girl. I recently felt like treating myself and stopped at Classickicks (298 Elizabeth Street) in NoHo, and spied a pair of polka-dot Nike Dunks for 50 percent off. It was a done deal, end of story, no need to explain myself. I work hard for my money.
But there are some instances in which half-off deals seem hard to come by. Case in point part deux: romantic dinners. When home “cooked” dinners, ho-hum dining destinations and McDonalds won’t do, there’s a simple solution: (dually filling appetizer + entrée at a moderately swanky restaurant) ˜ 2 = cheap.
If you’re looking for a thrifty dinner date but don’t want to skimp on atmosphere, a spot like Resto (111 E. 29th Street) gets the job done. A Belgian restaurant in trendy Murray Hill, it has both ambience and gastronomic satisfaction covered. Though dimly lit, it is a warm space with tin ceilings, plastered walls, a long marble bar and friendly staff. During the dinner rush on a rainy night, it was a cozy dinner for two, but not cramped.
My knowledge of Belgian food is that it is comfort food, and Resto did not disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation of the deviled eggs appetizer ($9), which came served on small squares of crispy pork toast with a sliver of hardboiled egg-white and the yolk mixture piped on. What I like best about Belgian food is the use of frites, better known in lemans terms as french fries. For the main course, we ordered a very filling steak and frites ($24), served with market greens and béarnaise (a traditional French sauce made of clarified butter and egg yolks, flavored with herbs and vinegar). Neither of us left hungry.
Cost per person, 15 percent tip included: $20.56. Walking arm in arm under one umbrella to the subway: priceless.
Which is just to say: shoes and fancy dinners aside, the best things in life are still free.