Pleasure at Prune

   After reading the incredible novel/autobiography, Blood, Bones and Butter, written by the now quite well known chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, I had the greatest opportunity to actually visit her tiny East Village eatery, Prune.  Blood, Bones, and Butter is a fantastic memoir about Gabrielle's life as a "reluctant" chef as she calls it.  Her tough but passionate personality comes out in her book, like no other, especially one written by a chef.  There is no dragging on with recipes, and droning on about the hard kitchen life.  She talks about its difficulty, but shows how she loves it and how she hates it, while making you do the same.  Her honesty and her straight-forwardness shines through in her writing and makes you want to know her, work with her, and be her friend all at once.  After reading the last page of her novel a few weeks ago, I immediately called Prune and reserved a spot for lunch.  If you haven't read her book, you need to.
 It was a beautiful but nonetheless sweltering late spring morning as we jumped out of the cab at the end of 2nd Ave and East 1st St..  As I began walking down the long block, passing through the neighborhood, I was slightly wondering if I had the address wrong.  A few homeless men were sitting in the corner of the alley patting the sweat from their foreheads.  A 1/2 of a block more, and there it was.  The small, humble Prune.

 It was light, airy and quaint inside, with hardwood flooring and antique mirrors lined along the wall. There were two waitresses, each with their hair gently pulled back looking neat and trim. There were few more than 25 seats in the place, but not packed full... as it was when we left.

Gabrielle flashed a smile at us, and ran out the door with a clipboard and a bag on her shoulder, as we were seated in a corner window and handed the small pink menu.  The menu is simple, fresh, and unintimidating.  We chose the Avocado Sandwich and the Hamburger.  The avocado was so deliciously displayed open face on a long slice of thick fresh French bread, covered in lots of chopped avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil, ricotta cheese, lemon, sesame and poppy seeds... providing a hearty yet dainty lunch.  "Just your style", Brian said.

 The juicy hamburger was 20% lamb, and placed delicately on a crispy toasted English muffin spread lightly with parsley and shallot butter. The fries were thin, hot, crispy and salty... as fries should be.  For both plates we were also provided with a very nice (and bright) serrated knife, which made slicing through the French bread and burger fun and easy.

As the hot sun shined through the front window, the air-conditioner hummed, easily holding off the heat from the fireball in the sky outside and the kitchen stove inside.  By the time we finished the last of our ice water and signed the check, there were people waiting for our table. After having experienced Gabrielle's life so beautifully through her words, it was so satisfying to finally have experienced it again through her food. 


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