Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Epic Hideaways: The Bombay Club, New Orleans

Hideaway: (Noun); A place to which a person can retreat for safety, privacy, relaxation, or seclusion; refuge: His hideaway is in the mountains.

Or in The Big Easy. One could convincingly argue that the entire French Quarter is a hideaway. Certainly it has been utilized with great effect over many years for this purpose. By artists. Smugglers. Outcasts. Writers. Criminals on the lam. Ex-spouses. Even by lawyers seeking refuge from the press of daily practice. Or by some combination of all of the above.

I have a long love affair with New Orleans. One of the things that so enamours me is the way you can walk down a side street in the French Quarter and just discover some marvelous little place to eat or drink. No matter how many times you may have walked by that spot before. There is simply no better place in my experience to look for a first class hideaway. And there are many of them there.

Conan-Doyle held that the perfect hiding place is in plain sight. This is especially true when you want to find a spot where you can sit, listen to good music, have a few fine cocktails, and eat very well prepared food. Due to a physical or metaphysical thunderstorm perhaps. Or due to some other cause of a need to seclude oneself for an unspecified period of time.

Not many people from out of town know of this place. Yet it is always well frequented. The atmosphere of mystery emanating from The Bombay Club begins when you find the front door. It is not hard to see. In fact, it is painted red. With a Union Jack draped about it. The trick is in the door's location. In plain sight. At the back of a hotel parking garage. To a known thrill seeker like me, a lot is added to a bar by the fact that you may be run over just walking INTO the place.

Once inside, however, whatever it is that you are hiding from will fade into the background as soon as the door closes behind you and you see the fabulous bar piled with common and exotic liquors...



Look closely at the bar stools...



There is a nefarious design feature of a lot of the little walls surrounding public parks these days. Rounded or even pointed crests which discourage anyone from lingering by sitting on the wall. A lot of bar stools seem to be of the same design philosophy. Not at the Bombay Club. These are professional equipment. Upholstered for the long hideout. Here is another shot of the bar looking back toward the front door on the right...



The place is decidedly clubby feeling. It even has great sofas...



A useful feature of a good bar in my experience. As well as of an extended stay hideaway. The sofa area is next to where one of several very good jazz pianists ply their craft. No doubt hiding out also. As they will. The bar is well stocked and the bartenders are first class. A night or two ago, I came to the BC after a fine meal with my pal The Colonel. A bartender new to me gave us a friendly greeting. I gave her my fastball. The Stinger. And she grinned an impish grin [my favorite kind for a lady bartender] and put one right in front of me. Not a blink of an eye. Needless to say, the martinis at this bar are GREAT. From close observation of the professionals behind the bar at the BC on more than a few occasions, I can tell you I have never seen them flinch in reply to a drink order. Or miss one. Or have to look one up. Bar tending of the old school reigns here. As it should in The Big Easy.

You can take chums here when they want to try exotic drinks in privacy. How about my favorite blended Scotch? Where I live you can't just find Pinch everywhere...

They have it here. How about an excellent Cognac favored by The Colonel which is flavored with just a touch of the finest Vanilla? Got it. No problem. Navan [by the fine folks who bring us Grand Marnier] is right up there on the top shelf...


A snifter of Navan with a cup of the BC's outstanding local coffee can cure a LOT of ills, real AND imagined.

Did I mention that the Chef is also top notch? How many parking garage hideaways can say that? Steak Frites with herb buttered wild mushrooms. Oysters Rockefeller. Crab Cake with Mirliton Slaw. Don't know what Mirliton is? Then put yourself on a train, plane or whatever and come find out. You won't be sorry. How about my favorite Roasted Scallops with potato-corn hash and chimichurri sauce? Or The Colonel's favorite, the Bombay Filet with melted Stilton cheese and chive mashed potatoes and just a drizzle of bordelaise. Packed yet? Ready to go?

If not, I have one final item that should tip you into immediate hideaway mode. Along one wall of the Bombay Club, they have private dining booths. With wood paneling, small banquettes and little candles. If you need an intimate hideaway for yourself and a co-conspirator, it doesn't get any better than this. You can just see the booths at the left of this photo...


Just the sort of spot for serious plotting. Escapes. Overthrows. Juntas. Engagements. Those sorts of things. Here is another shot of these booths...



If you look closely, you can see the portrait of Winston Churchill on the back wall. Right where it belongs. Overseeing the goings on. There is another sofa back there too, in case the one by the piano is too far away for you to reach. To the right of Winston's portrait is a little outdoor patio enclosed by high walls for privacy. They tell me cigars are smoked out there. I wouldn't know.

One night not that long ago, I spent a wonderful evening in one of the Bombay Club booths listening to the piano player, having drinks and dinner. And yes, I was the only occupant of the booth. Whiling away the hours. My hideaway within a hideaway within a parking garage. Untouchable.

Such a place is The Bombay Club. Not to be confused with the somewhat similar name attached to a chain of Interstate Exit joints. This is the real item. Take the smallest travel bag you own. The battered old leather one that is made for a quick escape. Toss in a few items. Like that book you have been meaning to read. Come hide. I'll see you there...

The Bombay Club, 830 Conti Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.

8 comments:

Petunia said...

oh that's it. i'm booking my ticket. lovely description, i can just picture myself on that sofa!

Ben said...

Would you believe I've never been to New Orleans? Yeah, I know. I'll turn in my Card right away. Do you think I can get a partial refund, or would that be asking to much of the Membership?

Nevermind, I'll just slink away hopefully unnoticed.

M.Lane said...

Petunia, thanks! I'll probably be sitting there when you walk in...

Ben, you do live rather a way from the French Quarter...that gives you a break...plus, N.O. is the city of second chances.

Thanks both of you for your visits and comments!

ML

CashmereLibrarian said...

I can't wait to check this out. A secret hideaway in New Orleans! And a perfect martini! I die!

Cas Ruffin said...

Nice pictures. When I'm in town, I'll consider The Bombay.

M.Lane said...

Cashmere, I know you will love this place as I do. [and you still have the best ever blogname..]

Cas, give it a try. I'm pretty sure you'll like it if you want a nice quiet place to have a drink and a good meal.

Thanks to you both for your visits and comments!

ML

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Brilliant! Just my sort of place. They have a Bombay Club in D.C. . Last time I went through the doors the cast of characters at the bar was right out of central casting... right down to the retired British Col. and the guy in the white D.J. with an eyepatch.

M.Lane said...

E&E, thanks! That sounds like you stumbled into a game of Clue!!

ML