After spending the last ten days bouncing between New York and Connecticut, I have, inevitably, become a train traveler. I experienced some refreshing (and much needed) downtime on the New Haven Line, tucked in my seat, looking out the window at the sights, and listening to my latest Audible addiction: Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef a memoir written by American chef, Gabrielle Hamilton. It always takes me a little time to really fall deeply into the pages of a book, which I like to blame solely on my focus problems, but Gabrielle managed to have me hooked like a slippery branzino on a line listening to her story unfold.
But before we dive too deeply into my story with Prune here is a little backstory on the book:
Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Gabrielle Hamilton has inhabited throughout the years. She tells her story with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion that is undeniably captivating. This memoir links together Hamilton's past, and present as the head-chef and owner of Prune.
As I listened, I couldn't help but fall in love with Gabrielle's tone and demeanor as she depicted her life chapter by chapter, while deliciously describing her cooking in a way that had me salivating while sitting next to strangers on a train. My seat neighbors probably thought I hadn't eaten in days...but this book always left me hungry whenever I had to hit pause on my audible app.
Gabrielle explained how she found her own path becoming a chef and just like a magnet, she kept attracting a career in the kitchen without really planning on it. A marvelous story of self-discovery paired with prose that felt a little more like food-porn, it was everything I needed to hear as I took to the streets to do my own self-discovery in New York City. Listening to her notation of this memoir had me feeling like Gabrielle was more than that of an author...she had become a comforting friend during my travels. Especially when I landed on chapter 18 when she wrote:
"I have loved making my way, imperfectly, around a foreign city on my own. I have loved walking endlessly and getting lost and arriving at the museum or restaurant or store I wanted to go to just as it was closing...I have loved the feeling of being pummeled by the intricacies of a city. And also loved the feeling of conquering, in small ways, a city by myself, not speaking the language but eventually finding the right place to get coffee the way I want, a good dinner, the train station, the bookstore."
These lines hit me hard, as I was finding my way through a city that was somewhat foreign to me, too. Hoping on subways, realizing I was on the wrong subway, waiting in the cold for trains, finally catching the train, and not too mention the constant weaving through city streets on foot. This book really touched home as I was navigating my own journey and being "pummeled" by the unknowns of NYC.
With a lot of my time allocated to travel and walking the long blocks from point A to point B, I blew through this book immediately and it left me itching to go visit Prune, a setting that felt like home sweet home during the duration of the second half of her memoir. I just had to experience it firsthand for myself. And there’s always something to be said about taking yourself out on the town to get a gourmet meal...it feels like a different kind of romance, a romance solely for me, myself and I.
I had just hit my 22,000 step mark for the day when the lazy-ness set in and I decided to catch a taxi to the restaurant. Honestly, I just wanted to chill out for a second in the back of a cab before dining and knew it would be faster trip to the table then walking on foot, because I was feeling hungry. What I loved most about walking into Prune, was finally being able to see all the intricacies that Gabrielle, head-chef and owner, looked after everyday. The restaurant was completely approachable, the music calmed my nerves right down as I left the city bustle at the door and the menu was divine in it's own matter. I ordered a glass of vino and nestled into my candlelit table right next to the heater. Boy this girl was beyond happy - and glad to be in a private nook to dine for dinner.
To my excitement, the waiter offered up some information about the bar snacks and told me more about the chicken liver pâté on toast. Which, I noted in my mind as MUST ORDER.
To all who oppose adventurous food, food that's a little out there, food that makes you feel uneasy or squeamish, food like chicken liver pâté...I don't think you would want to dine with me.
I scanned the entrees and landed my finger on the roasted duck. Done deal. I was all set to order and imagined the courses coming out of the kitchen in two acts. First the chicken then the duck...and I was giddy as a clam. I was pleasantly surprised when a little teacup of beef bone broth made it's way to my table as a complimentary starter. I took one sip....and I was lost in flavor. I am a major lover of bone broth but this one had a je ne sais quoi that left me wanting to ask the waiter if they sold this heaven-on-earth broth in bulk. I would've taken jars upon jars of this broth home with me to California just to remember the taste.
Once I had sipped down my teacup, my toast arrived and I dove right in. Relishing every bite I happened to overhear the women seated by the window saying how they saw this restaurant on BuzzFeed. I wish I could've pulled up a chair next to them and said: LISTEN, I know we are millennials and adore everything Buzz (including the lame quizzes) but you need to do a little more research. Pick up one of Gabrielle's books! Read it, get lost in it and then come back to Prune to dine once more knowing how special this restaurant really is.
In all honesty, I wish I felt more confident to pull out my Nikon to take photos of the food because I would've loved to share high quality pics, but I didn't want to disrupt the other guests and also didn't want to look like one of those food bloggers. So iPhone photos will have to do for this post. Here are a few quick shots of what I ordered:
Every moment at Prune was exactly how I had pictured it from Gabrielle's book. The hostess greeted me with such warmth, the waiter took care of each and every guest, the wine was poured with perfection and the food...oh the food...was something to experience. It was a real treat dining at Prune and it will be a dinner I will never forget.