First of all, we had the sweetest and most adorable server, like, ever. His name was Dan and he gently and patiently guided us through the restaurant's over 120 different teas. "We do tea tastings as well. If you're interested, I can take your email and send you information about it". Well, yes, I was interested. We chose a tea called Tropical Escape - a blend of black and green teas, pineapple, papaya, and kiwi bits and marigold. It was presented in a beautifully hand-painted kettle and cups and was playfully fruity and complex. I had a fresh avocado, asparagus, tofu, and shittake mushroom salad and Hiatt munched on perfectly prepared vegetable dumplings. The thing that became apparent was that the hustle and bustle that occurs in most restaurants was completely absent here at Radiance. The servers and people preparing food behind an open counter moved quickly, purposefully, and most astonishingly, practically silently. I noticed that Hiatt and I were speaking in slightly hushed tones to accommodate our surroundings and that I could still hear the tinkling music and (somewhere in the distance) running water. I looked across the room at a wall of kimonos, tea kettles, and other intricately crafted things for sale. I read that they hold private Chinese and Taiwanese tea ceremonies. This place was, in a word, precious. I felt like a little girl having tea with her dolls. Except Hiatt swears more than my dolls ever did.
We finished eating and I found myself longing to linger. I could feel the stressful pulse of the city encroaching upon me. Much like a last day in Bermuda or a kid in bed on a school day morning, I wanted to roll over, turn off the light, and pretend I didn't have to go anywhere. A call from my agent broke my stupor and Hiatt and I headed out into the fray. I said goodbye to our new friend, Dan, and hustled out into the mess of 55th street with a full belly and a slightly calmer disposition. I headed south, passed Elmo, and gave him a "wassup" nod. You never know, maybe that was all the action that costumed character would ever get. You know? It's amazing what a civilized cup of tea can do to one's perception of this raucous place.