Taureau! Taureau! Taureau!

We met the engaging and excited Didier Pawlicki last night walking by his new French Bistro, Taureau, the adorable fondue joint, whose name means bull and is the latest foodie addition to our Strip of Seventh between Avenue A and First.

Heading to a pre-arranged 6th anniversary date-night dinner at The Redhead, we stopped to check out the resto whose opening I’d been anticipating since I watched them paint the name on the bistro window a week or so earlier. The door was open, the tables were set and there was a just-posted menu a couple of pages long on the side of the establishment’s entrance. It was in business! We commenced to perusing the pages.

Erin, the cutest little wait person ever, who’s eyes each looked like their own little smile when she did, came over to fill us in on the deets. Before long a gentleman was at her side, further explaining the types of vegetables ~ “not starchy and there are four or five” and how you could order as many as you wanted or needed, how filet mignon was on the menu but more for those who maybe needed to feel “snobby” because “the regular beef is the best anyway” and how the tables heat up in the middle so you yourself cook the main of your meal, i.e., beef in various oils ~ “but not like shabu shabu.”

In the back of my mind, I kept wondering if the man we were having the pleasure of walking us through the menu was chef-owner + proprietor, Didier Pawlicki, of the beloved La Sirène in Soho. And, yes, my suspicions were confirmed. This was the very first, the opening night and he was expecting a group of friends. But mostly he wanted regular people to try it out so he could see if the proportions were too much or too little, if he needed tweaking in the kitchen or in the front of house and if people liked what they were eating ~ “if they don’t like it, not that we don’t know that it’s good, because it will be, but if they don’t like it, they don’t pay for it.”

Pawlicki says he hopes to send people toward the 7th Street 38-seater when La Sirène (I’ve never been, but apparently it’s half the size) hits overflow capacity. To facilitate their acceptance, Pawlicki has placed a few of La Sirène’s favorites on his new offerings, cassoulet among them. The new spot is also BYOB, same as L.S., with no corkage fee. Of course, there’s also cheese and, wait for it!, chocolate fondues, all suggested for at least two people, but as Didier notes, there’ll be no judging. “If you want to share with four or eat all by yourself ~ it’s your free choice!”

Do be aware that Taureau is not EV cheap (but, really, what is these days???!) at approximately $22.50/person for 2 for fondue. It’s cash only, at least for now. But you get what you pay for and it looks like Taureau will be giving the other bulls around the block a run for their money. We can’t wait to try it; in fact, I’m hoping for some great beef fondue there tonight. I’m in favor of spending the whole weekend celebrating our 6th. And that’s no bull.


Undercover: The Art of Eric Robert Parnes and His Louis Vuitton’d + Chador’d Self

Eric Robert Parnes, provocateur of art + fashion.
Self portrait with chador and Louis Vuitton, photograph 20\” x 30\” (2009)

You may recall my neighbor Eric; I’ve featured him on this blog before, sitting on the small front stoop of our building, taking a cell call meeting, wearing good-looking “mandals” and subtle summer attire.

Although, you’ve probably never seen him as he appears in the photo above. Eric is not only fashionable, he’s talented, creative and an art force to be reckoned with, drawing on a strongly articulated POV.

Recently, I popped by his studio down the hall, where he spoke to me of his work, his inspiration and his fashion sensibility. Much of his current work touches upon his Iranian heritage, pop culture, current events and some collage effects of his photography, castings, LED lights and tapestry.

Eric always tests boundaries, never shying from over-the-top fabulousness, especially when it comes to hats, boots, exotic head-to-toe looks. I wanted to snap him in an outfit I’d seen him step out of the elevator wearing a while back ~ winter bundling topped with a karakul, I believe it was, the type of Persian lamb cap favored by Hamid Karzai. Unfortunately for me, when I caught up with him last month before he left for a West Coast trip, the weather had become near summer-like and the Persian hat was too hot to model.

Off the cuff, he answered the door in a slightly asymmetrical, military-esque olive H&M jacket, part artists’ smock, part work apron, atop basic black. His style that day also rocked the East Village’s current love of full-on facial hair, a faux-hawk and no shoes, just socks, exhibiting a comfortableness with himself and his surroundings.

Some of Eric’s pieces, like the skateboards adorning the wall behind him, below, reflect his roots, printed as they are with the patterns of Persian rugs, like the one I sat upon while he talked to me cross-legged from his futon, also adorned with a Persian textile.

Eric also plays with toy soldiers, resin-cast German WWI toys, to be exact, staging them as characters in his series of timeless black-and-whites evoking exaggerated, blurred emotion.  Gold-leafed Glocks, grenades, AK47’s, handheld transceivers explode visually from quiet plexiglass-boxed exhibits in his apartment, while Chador-wearing women support rampant commercialism at Starbucks, KFC, Macdonald’s ~ all acrylic on canvas landscapes ~ and Farsi language neon signs proclaim sex, drugs + rock ‘n roll.

These are not your usual proclamations of war or peace. As Eric himself says, “It’s not really political,” what he does. “It’s just what I see and try to express. As an artist, you take things and turn them into something else.”

Creatively, he’s inspired and amused by the East Village boutique Obscura and the Soho-based near-museum of Evolution. He loves Comme des Garçons and Helmut Lang, although he says he “doesn’t tease” himself by trying to own pieces. He also admires 7, Oak, Future Perfect and Moss for fashion and style, while the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick are favorite inspirational and intellectual collecting grounds. “The Met’s like an adult education area of Disney. Especially the new Greek and Roman wing.”

I noticed last week that Eric was written up by SOU・SOU San Francisco!, the West Coast retail boutique, as its customer of the day. The accompanying photo showed Eric wearing his new “Tabi” shoes, the classic articulated Japanese slipper shoe styled like a mitten. Excellent! Another new iconic style to look forward to in my elevator!

View more of Eric’s artwork here. If you’re in Seattle around the 15th of June, catch some of his pieces at CoCA, the Center on Contemporary Art.