Au Revoir, Cendrillon

It has been 2 weeks since we found out that Cendrillon, located on Mercer Street had closed its doors after 13 1/2 years of being a part of the LES (Lower East Side) restaurant scene. We were going to have brunch there  hoping for some Beef Angus Tapsilog, and looking forward to some Ukoy when we realized the signage hanging in front of the restaurant was missing, and upon walking up to the facade, we were greeted by this sign.

It wasn’t surprising, but it was a very sad moment, as Cendrillon and its proprietors, Chef (Mang) Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa had been part of many fond memories at an establishment that made us proud as Filipino New Yorkers. With all that has happened in the last couple of months, we have seen so many casualties of this economic crisis we are all current suffering from.

I remember some of our first few dinner dates here after I moved to New York in June 2000, and the many celebrations had there with family and friends. I had proudly brought visiting family and friends to dine here, warning them that it was Filipino cuisine with a twist. Some looking for good old Filipino homecooking were sometimes disappointed by the variation on old favorites, but to me, those very twists to the cuisine I grew up made it a novelty of an experience worth stopping by for in Manhattan.

Mang Romy and Amy usually hopped from table to table talking to their patrons whenever they could, making friends among their many loyal customers.  They cheerfully shared stories and got to know the people who trooped to their doors.  They featured artists, known and otherwise, lending their walls to showcase talent.  

Sometime after 9/11, Alan and I had talked to Mang Romy and he shared with us how the Cendrillon family agreed to cut salaries and hours to survive the scourge of those days when they were cordoned off within the so-called no man’s land, a very trying period for many establishments.           

I’d like to think of this as but a new chapter in the ever-evolving repertoire of Chef Romy Dorotan. It is heartening to know that they are building yet anothe restaurant, Purple Yam, which will be opening in Brooklyn sometime in May 2009.  The restaurant is still under construction and will be in a area where there are other similar restaurants serving a wide variety of international cuisine.  Alan and I are waiting for that opening excitedly, and looking forward to seeing our favorite restaurateurs churning out Filipino fusion cuisine once again.

Lunch hour in Bryant Park

I actually took the time to step out for lunch today — the sun was inviting and I could see the sparkling waters across Midtown outside my window.  Alas, the sun was deceiving.  It was still a chilly 50 degrees, but the mere exercise of being able to drag myself away from my desk was a feat in itself.  I think I’m going to make a habit of this now that spring is  here. 

I imagine that available tables will be scarce once it warms up.  They’ve already startred planting the flowers which makes me look forward to when they are all in bloom once again. 

It may be just a few minutes but I’ve found that taking the time to do something for myself in the middle of a busy day can be energizing in a way that pulls me through the most chaotic of days.  Call it a “pick-me-up” if you will. 

I would’ve loved to grab a book and read a chapter or two, but I’m still looking for my copy of “The Little Book,” and my English translation of “El Filibusterismo” is a little too precious to lug around in my tote.  So instead I thought I’d sit quietly, pray for some natural heat from the sun (which didn’t come), and I tried to blog.  Tried — didn’t quite get there because I lost the post midway by hitting my darned “back” button.

It’s a start.. and here’s to a week of blogging…