We met tonight at Gabriella's, a restaurant on the corner of Amsterdam Ave. and 93rd Street. It had that "festive latino" air to it, if you know what I mean... very loud and festive decor, paper decorations hanging from the ceiling, etc. I got there very early (over half an hour) so I wandered off and took a walk around the neighborhood and got back around 5:45. When I got back, penchantnyc was there with saintlex, along with bixxy and trimalchio. I think that was it. We stood there, waiting (the policy is apparently not to seat people until the entire group has shown up), and slowly filled in the gaps: djstorm, an old friend of penchantnyc, showed up a little while later, and tapestrybabe and her friend Mike, and then they seated us. ozzdo showed a few minutes after we were seated, and then djstorm's friend Mike (whom I hereby dub Big Mike, as he was big, and it'll do) joined us, and finally tritia and her friend Sara arrived... disappeared again... and then returned to stay for good. nuyoricanwiz was a no-show.
We ordered a decent variety of food, and lots of people got margaritas. I just got a coke. The margaritas got good reviews all around, with the melon receiving raves from tritia (I will note that those buggers were expensive - $6.50 for the plain, $7.50 for the flavored margaritas - not terrible prices, but I'm glad I didn't order any ;) ). The food was decent, I thought, but not spectacular. It wasn't really disappointing, but not as good as I was hoping. I had a stuffed pepper, and there were too many other people for me to note what they all got. :) djstorm did take a shot at a beef tongue taco, which apparently had decent flavor, but however they prepared the tongue gave it a weird squishy, rubber texture, like squid. (That's second-hand info, of course, he ordered it, not me.)
Found out that djstorm is a goth and does some dj'ing on the weekends - and we spent a while reminiscing on some old members of the local goth crowd. I remembered more than I thought I would, although unfortunately none of the dj's, heh.
After the dinner at Gab's, we got into a mild debate about dessert - the main problem that we weren't sure where we could possibly get seated with 12 people in our group on a Saturday night. The original plan had been to go to Veniero's, but the concern was that it would be too crowded and wouldn't be able to seat us all together. penchantnyc and Sara did most of the talking, with me throwing in a few comments. We eventually decided to try Veniero's, and if it was too full, to walk over to Kiev (thanks to djstorm for the name reminder, and I think that's the correct link... again, if it ain't, please let me know ;) ).
We walked over to the 1/9 and hopped on the 2 downtown to 14th, and then took the L over to 1st Avenue. I still think we should've walked that last bit cross-town, but whatever. ;)
We got to Veniero's, and it was pretty full, but we decided to brave it, anyways. We got in line and proceeded to wait. After getting tired of people asking if we should keep waiting or move along, I walked up and talked to the hostess (she was pretty cute) and found out it'd be a 20-30 minute wait for our group. We waited and chatted, and then finally around 30 minutes later were seated. (I will say this, they had to put together a group of 6 tables to seat us, and if they hadn't been holding them after I told them we had 12 people coming together, we probably would've had another 20 minute wait even after we hit the front of the line... or would've been broken into 3 or 4 groups to seat us all.) So it all worked out - we had a bit of a wait, but all got to sit together (albeit in some very tight quarters... :) ).
We all ordered our desserts and a few people had coffees, teas, and the fancier coffees (i.e., cappuccinos and espressos). We even sang happy birthday for ozzdo (and technically penchantnyc and Big Mike).
After sitting and digesting for a little while, we headed out and split up, half of us walking over to the N/R at 14th and the rest over to the 4/5/6 (also on 14th, and in hindsight we could've all walked to 14th together, but oh well :) ). Benjamin Bratt and a few people, including (apparently, I'm relying on ozzdo for this) his girlfriend Talisa Soto were standing around outside Veniero's and talking, until someone came out to bring them in to be seated. I'm guessing tv/movie stars get priority seating. Bastards. You'd think (well, hope) NYC would be jaded enough that he would be made to wait in line just like the rest of the schmucks, but NO... damn him, he got in.
Sigh. What is NYC coming to? We're just not jaded enough.
Anyways... nice night out o'erall.