The Little Next Door

THE LITTLE NEXT DOOR
8142 West 3rd Street
323.951.1010


As a creature of comfort, I rarely delineate from my trusted stand-bys–one of which is having breakfast at Joan's On Third. In my humble opinion, Joan's consistently makes the best eggs in town. There, they've mastered three basic egg-cooking techniques to perfection: Their soft-boiled eggs always have a warm, yolky center; their scrambled eggs are always scrambled into creamy-soft, fluffy folds; and their omelettes would make Chef André Soltner proud. Despite the number of breakfasts I've cooked over the years, I still feel iffy about how my eggs turn out. I don't know how their kitchen manages to churn out perfection day after day.

This past Sunday, when my boyfriend and I arrived at Joan's for breakfast, we saw that it was closed for the Easter holiday. Quel dommage! Our attention then turned to a small, ivy-covered patio with café tables and rattan bistro chairs next door, which is literally called The Little Next Door. (I've passed this French restaurant numerous times on the way to Joan's and paid no attention to it previously. In fact, I believe it was my friend Bill who once told me this place was nothing to write home about. When it comes to restaurants, I always ask Bill for his two cents.)

We started off with a warm pain au chocolat as we decided what to order. (If you don't already know this, it must be said that you should always judge a café/restaurant/bakery by its pain au chocolat or croissant–especially if it's "French".) Thankfully, theirs was a promising sign. 

My boyfriend ordered his usual omelette; I went with "Two Eggs Your Style, served with bacon and potatoes". Whence dining at an unfamiliar establishment, I tend to order my eggs over-easy because, in my opinion, it's a foolproof method of cooking eggs. (Sunny-side up can be tricky if the whites aren't cooked through on top.) Given the interesting variety of eggs Benedict on offer, it might sound like I ordered the most boring thing on the menu, but the aforementioned "potatoes" weren't your run-of-the-mill hash browns... Imagine my delight when I was surprised with a serving of pommes dauphinoise, the Queen of Side Dishes: thinly sliced potatoes cooked in milk, butter and cream underneath a bubbling blanket of grated Gruyère!

My eggs were good–because, like I said, it's pretty hard to screw up eggs cooked over-easy–but the pommes dauphinoise is truly what took this breakfast to the brink of divine. 

Just Like Diane

"So... We play an ice-breaker game every time we have a first-time visitor," said a friend of mine, pulling out a seat for me when I stopped by her office to say hello, "You have to pose a question to the group and everyone takes their turn to answer it."

I looked around at the smiling faces at the table. What a way to put a girl on the spot! 

"OK!" I said, clasping my hands together, "I've got the question."

I cheated a little because I had already played this game back in college. The question was: "If there was a movie made about your life, who would you pick to play you?" 

The only difference, then, was that, instead of answering it myself, my college roommate answered for me: Parker Posey. (At the time, we were all obsessed with two Parkers: Parker Posey and Sarah Jessica Parker.) I was honored. Parker Posey was an unexpected and non-obvious choice. She has a wicked sense of humor and, despite being supremely talented and cool, she has always flown under the mainstream radar.

Therefore, when it was my turn, I knew exactly what I was going to say: "Parker Posey."

"Really?" asked my friend, "I'm surprised. You know who you remind me of? Diane Keaton."  

"Diane Keaton?!" 

"Yes! Especially in that movie Something's Gotta Give." 

"Really?! Why?" I wasn't sure how I felt that a 50+-year old actress could play me. (And I'm not talking about looks because Ms. Keaton looks damn fine.) Did I act twenty years older than my own age???

"Well, she's a writer... And she always wears sweaters,"  she said, thoughtfully.

I looked down at what I was wearing. Hm. A cashmere sweater in the middle of the summer. Well, what can I say, I am definitely a sweater girl, through and through. She might be be onto something.

When I randomly bumped into an ex-boyfriend from high school, he also brought up the same connection. He mentioned that Something's Gotta Give was one of his favorite movies and Diane Keaton's character always reminded him of me. It was interesting coming from someone whose #1 favorite movie is American Psycho, to say the least.

Diane Keaton plays Erica Barry, an accomplished playwright and divorcée who lives in a gorgeous house in the Hamptons and finds herself caught in a love triangle between a man of her own age who is the ultimate modelizer (Jack Nicholson) and a younger hot doctor who is completely enamored with her (Keanu Reeves). Nancy Meyers, the writer and director of the film, didn't make it difficult to see why these two polar opposites were clamoring for her attention.

Erica Barry possesses a sparkly independent spirit, but is also a creature of comfort. She's complex but not complicated. And she's nurturing but not in a trite way. She also makes things like blueberry pancakes at midnight and eats scrambled eggs straight out of the pan on rainy evenings.

I recently watched Something's Gotta Give again the other night. OK, so there are some similarities. There's the writing thing and the sweater thing, for one. But, geez, her hairstyle and my hairstyle? (I swear, I feel perpetually stuck in this mid-length layered haircut.) Then, there's her easy-going nature that makes her so approachable. And the fact that she has no problem spending time alone. Oh, and how she romances Paris... Although what woman doesn't?

I adore Diane Keaton in general, so I'm very pleased to know that there are at least two people in this world who associate me with her character in this movie. I hope I live up to it. Like Erica Barry, I hope I produce some great piece of writing, find someone who gets me, and own a fabulous home in the Hamptons.