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the Leopard at des Artistes

Interior of the Leopard at des Artistes, New York, 2011. Photo: Melissa Hom.

PART OF THE AESTHETIC SINGULARITY of dining uptown, until very recently, included zebras prancing on bright red wallpaper, drop ceilings with weird stains, dirty pink carpets and matching tablecloths, fake flowers mixed with real ones, that weird moldy smell, bartenders who were probably actually vampires, a very large display of fresh but unremarkable supermarket vegetables in a basically empty restaurant, and extraordinary prices for terrible food. All of this seemed like it would soon be over when New York’s Café des Artistes (located, since it opened in 1917, at One West Sixty-Seventh Street) closed in 2009, followed by Gino (2010), Elaine’s (2011), and, the most macabre of them all, Bravo Gianni (2011). For those of us from a generation that thinks it is a culinary revolution to track the itinerary of produce, these realms of freaky food and forgotten decor were as riveting

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