Upper West Side residents (and non-residents) gathered at the beautiful green space surrounding the Museum of Natural History on Thursday, May 29th to raise funds for the Theodore Roosevelt Park. The event was part of the three day food-centered festivity called New Taste of the Upper West Side. Guests were treated to six bite-size dishes from local restaurants. I was thrilled and honored to partake in the evening's shenanigans. I must be honest and say that I am not an uptown regular. Seldom do I find myself wandering past 59th Street and 5th Avenue. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing of interest for me above 44th Street. All of my favorite restaurants, shops and bars are downtown or in Brooklyn and even Queens. This isn't to say that uptown Manhattan sucks- frankly, I didn't really know much about it until I attended Soirée in the Park.
The event was a very intimate affair with a small crowd. Most of the attendees were folks who live within a 6 block radius from the park. I was a new face so I guess that made me quite the target for discussion. A lovely elderly couple struck a conversation with me about the neighborhood. They asked "Have you been to so and so?" and then saying "Oh you should definitely go- they've got fantastic Tuscan cuisine and a wonderful pianist." The two continued with their recommendations and even stated "This restaurant hasn't been reviewed by Zagat yet", regarding one of the establishments.
It was then that I realized that uptown isn't all that different from the rest of the city. The people there are as genuinely passionate about their neighborhood as the hipsters in Flatbush or DUMBO. Uptown folks also love food as much as the Instagram frenzy foodies. The only difference is that people uptown like it classy.
Which brings me back to the night's event. Surrounded by beautiful architecture with live classical music playing as background music, Soirée in the Park was the epitome of an elegant evening .