Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Dinner and a Movie

By Steve Herte

Sully (WB, 2016) – Director: Clint Eastwood. Writers: Todd Komarnicki (s/p). Chelsea Sullenberger & Jeffrey Zaslow (book Highest Duty). Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Valerie Mahaffrey, Delphi Harrington, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Ahmed Lucan, Laura Lundy Wheale, Onira Tares, Gary Weeks, Katie Couric, Patch Darragh, & Jeff Kober. Color, Rated PG-13, 96 minutes.

I never thought I’d be so glad to be in New York.” says Jeff Skiles (Eckhart) after the “Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks) is still disturbed and concerned about his passengers and crew until he finally gets a count of survivors – 155, all accounted for. He calls his wife Lorraine (Linney) on his cell phone to let her know that he’s alright and she wonders why. He tells her to simply turn on the television.

This biopic is only one hour and 36 minutes long, but it is intensely emotional, beginning with Sully’s nightmare of how the incident could have ended. He’s haunted by thoughts of the disaster he averted throughout the movie. If that weren’t enough, the investigative committee led by Charles Porter (O’Malley) is threatening to end his career. After hearing that 20 computer simulations were run and all concluded that it would have been possible to land at either LaGuardia or Teterboro Airports and that one computer analysis stated that his left engine was running on idle and could have provided thrust, he starts to doubt himself.

To the world, Sully is a hero, but not to himself. He was doing his job. The harrowing review process can only be resolved by adding in the human factor of a 35-second delay and locating the left engine, which broke off when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 hit the Hudson River.

Sully is baffled by all the attention he’s getting from the media and even people he meets casually. A Marriott hostess hugs and kisses him. A bartender names a drink after him. “It’s a shot of Grey Goose with a splash of water!” His only relief is knowing that everyone on board survived and from Tom Hanks’ performance, this is palpable. You feel what he feels. A sterling bit of acting.

The crash landing is shown from two different perspectives and both are believably real. I was amazed at how subtly after take-off we heard the word “birds!” before both engines burst into flame. It was a flock of migrating geese, not just birds. I found myself almost on the edge of my seat even though I know what happened that day. Patch Darragh did a great job playing air traffic controller Patrick Harten, who was devastated when the plane dropped below radar and communication, and he thought he’d lost them. Laura Linney, though her part was small, was no small actress. She clearly demonstrated the stress that came from possibly losing her husband and sole source of income and, as a result, losing their house.

Kudos should also go to director Clint Eastwood and the special effects department, who made a flashy news item into a meaningful humanitarian experience, complete with flashbacks to Sully’s early flight career on a biplane and a fighter jet. I enjoyed seeing the background material. It helped flesh out the character and made the story more interesting. There were no dead spots and even young children would like this film. I know I did.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Martini glasses.

Kat & Theo
5 W. 21st St., New York

Kat & Theo proved to be an amazing dining experience from the four young trees on the sidewalk in front of the beautifully etched plate glass window to the dining room with its ceiling of wooden beams and walls of open brick and faux stone, with dark wood tables flanked by bare wood and iron chairs and soft leather banquettes.

Shortly after my server, Mona, arrived with the menus, I chose my drink: the Metal and Dust cocktail – pasilla and mulato chili infused reposado tequila, tempus fugit cacao, merlet crème de fraise, vanilla syrup, dark lager, lime and mole bitters, garnished with somethings called strawberry leather. It was spicy and smoky, and the strawberry leather was like strawberry jerky. What an original concept!

Looking through the wine list I found two reasonable Portuguese wines that showed promise. Mona sent the resident sommelier, who helped me choose a 2010 Quinto de Foz de Arouce red wine made from Baga and Touriga grapes. It was simply amazing. Up until then, my entire experience with Portuguese wines was Mateus and various ports, all sweet. This was a complete departure from that flavor, a rich, medium-bodied red with delicate nose and chocolate overtones. 

My first dish was a plate of homemade chips with olive tapenade and Labneh cream cheese/butter. Soon after, Mona brought my soup. The bowl she placed before me had the “lobster salad” lined up in the center on a diagonal. She carefully poured the local tomato gazpacho around it. It was like no other gazpacho I’ve ever had: no excessive cilantro flavor, just smooth herbal-graced tomato, and of course the lobster with a little dill, delightful.

Next to arrive was potato gnocchi mixed with bacon, shallots and English peas and crowned with a delicate foam. The peas are perfect with the tender potato dumplings, and we know that everything tastes better with bacon.

There were four main courses I was interested in, but I ended up choosing the rabbit crepinette. Arranged on the plate in five pieces, four loin segments and a rib section with yellow and green summer beans and mustard, it was juicy and tender, with the beans and mustard giving it a savory and succulent flavor. As a side, I ordered the summer squash accented with lemon verbena and crème fraiche. The gourds were grilled but still had a crunchy quality and full flavor. I’m not a person who adds lemon to any dish, but in his case, it was fantastic and flowery.

Mona helped me choose dessert. We both agreed upon the market strawberry – African strawberries with salted caramel and the most outrageous choco-peanut butter mousse. It wasn’t exactly like a mousse, fluffy and light, but more like a dense ice cream or halvah. I loved it. Then a nice cup of Darjeeling tea and a thistle glass of port wine finished my dinner.

A little over a year old, Kat & Theo has many more years to come and hopefully, more visits from myself. I thanked both Mona and the sommelier profusely and left happy.

For the Dinner and a Movie archive, click here.

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