Over the years she lived in Astoria, Brina created an incredibly detailed binder of take-out menus from her neighborhood. Whenever anyone suggested take-out and vino, Sabrina simply handed them the binder and let them have at it. Numerous apps have now made something like this seem unnecessary, but trust me. With a group of people and different tastes, it's nice to have actual menus.
So when a bunch of us wanted to order Thai one night we played pass the iphone for awhile as we tried to find something close, something cheap, something good, and something with dumplings. (Note: Something With Dumplings is a good idea for a food truck. Don't steal it.) After about 40 minutes of this, Brina remembered that there was a pretty decent Thai place down the street. She called to place the order and I agreed to go pick it up.
Before leaving the apartment, she warned me that finding the place can be difficult.
This was our exact conversation:
Bri: You won't really be able to tell from the street that it's a restaurant. There are stairs on the outside and you have to go down the stairs before you come to it.
Me: OK, but this is the street address, right? That's the number?
Bri: Yes, but it's confusing. You won't actually see the restaurant.
Me: OK, I'm a big girl. I can figure it out.
Heading down the street toward the Thai place I paid close attention to the numbers. Seeing a large sign with the address on it I shook my head. Sabrina had made it sound like the restaurant was buried underground and I would never be able to find it without explicit directions. There was a GIANT sign with the street number on it visible from the sidewalk. I thought to myself, she must think I'm a complete idiot.
I walked down the outside stairs (as instructed) and into the building. I was immediately struck by how warm it was in there. They must have a big kitchen, I thought to myself. Then, rounding the corner to go down another flight of stairs, I passed a girl in a bikini. I should admit here that I had been drinking a little that night, so perhaps I wasn't as shocked by this as I should have been. I remember saying excuse me and thinking to myself that it was a little odd, but at no point were any red flags raised. Brina had made it very clear that I would not recognize it as a restaurant.
Heading down another flight of stairs I passed a counter with a group of people standing around but it didn't look like a pick-up counter so I kept going down another flight. With each step I took I heard a, "Hello? Hello?! Hello!" grow louder. Ignoring that and walking into the hottest part of the restaurant, I waved my hand in front of my face to clear away the heavy cloud of steam while looking for a host or server. Instead, I saw two older naked men.
Three things occurred to me at this moment:
1) This was not a Thai restaurant.
2) If it was, I would not be paying for our spicy broad noodles.
3) The angry "hellos" were for me.
Turning around to head back up the stairs, the man at the counter yelled, "Can I help you?!"
Thinking that the Thai place was obviously still somewhere in this building I said, "I'm looking for Thai pick up."
He shut his eyes and shook his head in utter disbelief and yelled back at me, "It's on the corner. Down the street."
When I made my way down the street (to a business with the SAME EXACT EFFING ADDRESS, I might add) I literally tiptoed down the stairs and into the restaurant.
When I returned with everyone's food I calmly explained that the neighborhood Bath-House and Thai restaurant have the same address but are located in completely different buildings.
This is where something like a binder full of take-out information helps the process.