Please Don't Tell
It’s no secret that I love New York City, and it’s because of places like Please Don’t Tell. A speakeasy nestled inside a hotdog shop, only accessible through a phone booth, PDT is a hidden gem in the East Village. From the front, Crif’s looks unassuming, but the cluster of young professionals dressed up for a night out standing outside will let you know you’re in the right place and don’t worry, they’ll look just as confused and lost as you do. Once you enter the restaurant you’ll find picnic style tables, retro games, and a long line of people waiting to use a phone booth. Inside it, you’ll find yourself face to face with a red phone and instructions on how to call.
While anyone can grab a hot dog or use the phone booth, entry into the speakeasy is much harder to come by. Most nights you’ll see people walk out with disappointed looks on their faces, muttering about a three hour wait. So how do you get exclusive access? Reservations are your best bet. Every day at 3:00 p.m. PDT starts taking reservations. If you manage to get through you can snag a table for your preferred time, but call even a minute late and you’ll be out of luck.
By some miracle, I managed to get through and made a reservation for me and three friends for 10:00 PM last Saturday night. We went through the usual protocol; waited in line to get into the cramped phone booth, dialed the number, and when asked how many were in our party mentioned our reservation. They weren’t ready for us yet, so we sat outside and watched as people came and went after putting their name on the two-hour waiting list. After a long thirty minutes our name was called. We entered through the side door of the phone booth and found ourselves in a very quaint lounge. There were maybe 4 booths total and seats along the bar. We were directed to a back table. It was dark and quiet but very cool and a very different experience from all the "intern" bars we had grown accustomed to. While we looked at the expansive drink menus our waitress brought us complimentary tots and fries, a thank you for our patience and apology for keeping us waiting so long.
The drink menu was almost overwhelming – there were so many options, most of them mixed with things we’d never even heard of. We disregarded the menus and opted to ask our waitress for suggestions instead. She asked what types of alcohol we preferred and what flavors we liked and recommended drinks both on and off the menu. We were so impressed by her knowledge and all loved the drinks we got. Mine was the only one from the menu - the Paddington, made with rum, Lillet Blanc, lemon and grapefruit juice, Bonne Maman orange marmalade, and absinthe. Under each drink was a little description of how the drink got it's name or how the ingredients came together. "After working a few nights under Paddington, our taxidermied black bear, David Slape created his namesake cocktail prepared with orange marmalade (his favorite) to balance the citrus".
If you’re in New York and can get a reservation I highly recommend it; it's unique, exclusive, and by far one of the coolest things I’ve done this summer. But remember, please don’t tell.
P.S. The hot dogs are pretty good too!