DRILLINGER DOES is a weekly column that chronicles the exploits of urban daredevil Meagan Drillinger throughout the five boroughs. Every Monday is another adventure — from whiskey tours and no-pants subway rides to sex club date nights.
It’s never a bad thing to be single in New York — for the most part, I rather enjoy it. I get the ENTIRE bed to myself, every night holds potential to meet someone new, and I always (ALWAYS) get to order from wherever I want on Seamless. Being single in New York is, in fact, nothing short of supremely awesome.
Except for when it’s not.
Like that time when you’re invited to a private rooftop dinner party with a +1 and all those “new people” you met on those nights out suddenly have no interest in doing anything that requires notice. Then, being single rather blows.
But seeing as rooftop season in New York is the grandest of seasons, and this dinner party held the promise of a new exclusive dining concept and lots of free-flowing wine, I decided I could forego my #firstworldproblem and take one for the team.
I set out to a swanky luxury apartment building in Chelsea for a special preview of chef Francesco Coli’s latest creation, the Rooftop Chef. Not a stranger to tables for one (or bar stools for one, or hotel rooms for one…), the pathetic factor greatly decreases when you’re dining solo high above the pavement as the sun sets over the Hudson and a glass of red wine is mysteriously always full in your hand. In fact, I’d say this is about as far from pathetic as one can get.
Chef Coli launched the Rooftop Chef concept just a few weeks ago, after seeing a major gap in the rooftop scene. In a city where you can watch rooftop movies in hot tubs, rave in empty water towers, and pick your own rooftop produce, you’d think having a private meal cooked roof-side would be fairly obvious. Turns out, it wasn’t. Enter chef Coli, a restaurateur with an Italian restaurant in Westchester (Massa Coastal) and another slated for the West Village. With a focus on rustic Italian seafood, his rooftop menus cover everything from crudos and seafood salads to grilled meat and shrimp, canapés, cheese plates and, of course, desserts. Rooftop Chef can serve a group as intimate as a table for two (or one…) or as many as 200 of your closest besties.
Wine securely in hand, and the sun bathing the glass of Midtown in a pink-and-blue glow, I watched as chef Coli turned a tiny rooftop counter space into his lab. Grill fired up, he mixed a citrusy crudo of raw fish doused in lemon as a hangar steak sizzled sexily nearby. Joining the steak on the grill went massive prawns and a hearty helping of cuttlefish, tossed with yellow and red tomatoes. Thick slices of crusty olive bread sat in a basket on the counter, begging to sop up whatever was leftover on my plate, which was absolutely nothing as I dateless-ly scarfed everything down, throwing ladylikeness to the wind. As if that weren’t enough, chef Coli ended the meal with a jewel of a dessert: a small, single person-sized chocolate cheesecake infused with Bailey’s. Even if I had brought a date, at that point there was zero chance I would have remembered he was there.
I drained the last of my wine and wiped the morsels of lingering chocolate from my mouth. I took one last look at the Empire State Building and the lights of the City that popped out in the now inky night with a happy realization. Yes, being single gets you all the starfish bed sprawling, all the freedom, and all the takeout…but it also means you get a beautiful Manhattan skyline with a side of boozy dessert and you don’t even have to share.
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