At a table at Balthazar, with T across from me, we enjoy dark-roast coffee, bread, and warm butter before ordering brunch.

T ordered scrambled eggs in puff pastry with mushrooms and bacon lardons.

I opted for steak frîtes, of course. After all, who knows when I will be back? These fries are to die for.

We sit at our small table with the frenzy and energy of the city crowd swarming around us: Servers in constant motion and conversations in unfamiliar languages pervade, creating a roar that is Manhattan.

T’s eggs looked wonderful, and my steak was just right, the frîtes may have sealed the deal. I have the Balthazar cookbook and have read how they are prepared, so I understand why they’re so good. Hand-cut potatoes are soaked overnight to release their starch and are fried at an exact temperature in lard (yes, lard). Who could say no to crisp, golden-brown potatoes? Not I!

Next up: dessert.