Mmm...meat by the pound.
“What are you doing Wednesday?” my girlfriend asks, eager to spend quality moments with me since work has made our schedules incompatible all summer.
“I’m…busy,” I say, deflecting the naked truth.
“Doing what?” she asks. This is how conversations work: brief exchanges of information.
“I’m going to eat steak at Scores.”
“The strip club. They supposedly have really good steak.” I omit that Chelsea’s Scores (536 W. 28th St., betw. 10th & 11th Aves., 212-868-4900) was shuttered last year due to a tiny problem called prostitution.
New ownership renovated the topless club and installed Will Savarese (Le Cirque, La Crémaillère) as top toque. It’s a new day at the nudie parlor.
“And this is for work,” she says. Work is my catchall excuse. Drunk on Lucky 13’s dollar beer? Work. Sumo-gorged on Bamboo Pavilion’s feather-light fiery fish? Work. Refusing to wear pants? Work, work, work. Inspiration requires unexpected forms.
“Just keep your pants on,” she says, which I take as her blessing.
Wednesday comes. I’m running late. I slapdash out my door, forgetting my umbrella—a silly move given this sodden summer.When I depart the subway, the blue sky has turned corpse-gray. Thunder cracks.
Down come cats and dogs, soaking me to my striped socks. Maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want me to see bare breasts, I think, as I swim through the downpour.
“You got a little wet,” my pal José says by way of greeting. He’s shaking an umbrella like a wet pooch. I should strangle José, but it’s his first visit to New York since moving to Texas. A wife, a baby, you know the score. But neither is present tonight, giving José free reign. Within reason.
Minutes later, Aaron strolls up, also holding an umbrella. “My wife said I could look, but I can’t touch,” Aaron informs us. “She doesn’t want to have to cut anyone.”
“Seems fair,” I say, as we enter the pleasure palace. Scores slinks across 10,000 square feet, encompassing an LED-lit runway, multiple stages topped with sensuous strippers, gaudy light shows and private rooms aplenty.
We’re led to a raised platform housing Robert’s Restaurant. It’s the companion to the Penthouse Executive Club’s Robert’s Steak House, and they both peddle flesh of the highest caliber. “Concentrate, guys,” I say, pointing at the menu, sighing. Bringing married men to a strip club destroys attention spans like giving preschoolers candy. After tearing gazes from the surrounding flat-screens (featuring the strippers, dancing nearby), we come to a carnivorous consensus. We order. We sip drinks—a well-made Manhattan, a toofizzy old-fashioned, a potent gin-and-tonic. We watch. From our perch, it’s like watching a baseball game from a skybox. The dancers are mere window dressing for the main event—dinner.
Our rainbow heirloom-tomato salad is farm-fresh goodness, given creamy contrast by the mozzarella. The frisée salad is a textural toss of sweet pecans and pungent blue cheese, which dooms me to bad breath. Not that you want nice breath tonight, I envision my girlfriend saying, a voice I erase with whiskey.
“I love tomatoes,” José says, watching a woman contort on TV.
“I’m a steak man myself,” I say, as we receive a table-dwarfing platter of sliced rib-eye, centers as pink as rabbits' noses.
The dry-aged steak is dense and rich, with a mineral tang so flavorful I need no béarnaise. The lamb chops match the steak’s juiciness, amped up with tangy Moroccan spices. And the fries are playful indulgences: matchstick taters sprinkled with an everything bagel’s classic toppings and then submerged in smoky paprika aioli. They’re equally fun to eat and ogle, a sentence that can cause no shortage of trouble in a strip club.
“Would you like some dessert?” the maître d’ asks. He opens a menu. A curvaceous blonde, poured into her shimmery dress, sits down. He smiles. I turn the color of beets, as do my now-awkward companions.
“Would you like a private tour?” she asks.
Um. Well. No. I’m as scared as the little lamb I just ate. A woman as tanned as leather sits on my chair. Her briefs sparkle, as does her filled-to-bursting top. She squishes against my shoulder. I inch into my chair’s far corner, making myself as small as I feel.
“Perhaps you need more to drink,” the blonde says. She’s right; four more cocktails, and all bets are off. It’s my curse. It’s every man’s curse. But now, we’ve just had a dinner as lovely as our relationships with our respective women. I mumble an excuse— “I’ve got work”—and we leave our baser desires behind.
“I was too full for a lap dance anyway,” José says, offering up a far manlier excuse.