It has been a whirlwind of eating and seeing old friends and family and working and eating. The other night we went to Chez Panisse, and last night to Verbena. Chez Panisse is world renowned, and the meal was truly impeccable, there was nothing to reproach it. It was a treat to be there with K&M and their lovely daughters, we had a really nice time. And yet, the meal itself felt…I don’t know, a little boring. For the kind of money we spent, you would really expect to be completely wowed, but at this point I feel that the place is coasting a bit on their name. Verbena, on the other hand, was a creative treat. Each dish was a surprise, and the restaurant itself, designed by Marites and Keith, is beautiful and has great ambiance. On a side note, I have been impressed while here that in all the restaurants I have been to, one is able to have a pleasant conversation with one’s table mates. That is to say, these are not the eardrum crushing environments that invite screaming matches as seems to be the case with almost every New York restaurant these days. What a pleasure and revelation to be able to make dinner a social event where friends can talk to each other again. NYC restaurants really need to get a clue and invest in some sound design and dampening.