Singer-Songwriter Vanessa Carlton Indeed Loves Ruby's in the Afternoon

Vanessa Carlton

"I went to Ruby’s and had another espresso."Photo:Melissa Hom


In her single “Nolita Fairytale,” Vanessa Carlton sings about her love of “Ruby's in the afternoon”— a reference to her favorite neighborhood hang. “It’s the best people-watching,” she says of Ruby’s. “Everyone looks like they’re out of an editorial shoot for some hip magazine. But it’s not posey.” Other favorites near the “Nolita flat on rent control” she famously exalts? La Esquina (“I love to get takeout or to just sit at the front taco bar”), Freemans (“I think it wins the devils-on-horseback competition with the Spotted Pig”), and N (“the best chorizo I’ve ever had”). We asked her whether this week found her at any of the above.

Saturday, November 24
I was in Montreal — it was the last show of the tour. I got this baked rotisserie chicken and pomegranates and a chickpea salad with some herbs. It was all fresh and organic. The star of the cuisine on the bus is — I’ve started infusing my own vodka. I’m quite a vodka drinker — my Russian-Jewish roots are basically saturated in it. I have this container, and I infuse it with pomegranate seeds and raspberries. That’s my post-show reward. And I had two chocolate-chip cookies from Subway.

Sunday, November 25
Every morning when I’m home I have a double espresso from either Balthazar or Starbucks depending on which line is shorter. I don’t care what it tastes like; I just prefer the effects. And I’ll get Stonyfield yogurt with an amazing granola, Kingslake & Crane, that they sell at Dean & DeLuca. It has a burgundy ribbon around it — it’s a whole ceremony. It’s chock-full of nuts and cranberries, and I’ll put pomegranate seeds in there. Having yogurt every morning makes my skin better — it’s super-healthy.

At 2:30 p.m. I went to the gym and came back and had wasabi peas and whole-wheat Finn crisps with Gruyère three hours later.

I met friends at the Strip House. I had a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir and a tomato-red-onion salad followed by a porterhouse steak (I was experimenting). I realize that I'm not much of a steak-on-the-bone eater (chicken on a bone is a different story, however). The sides were extraordinary and so extravagant: potatoes fried in duck fat and creamed spinach with truffle oil.

Then I went to Beatrice Inn as usual and had two Little West 12th drinks. They are light and cucumberish and deadly.

Monday, November 26
I had a double espresso at Balthazar and then my granola. Café Fanny in Berkeley makes her own granola mix as well, and I mix it with the Kingslake because there are more sunflower seeds in hers. I’m very finicky about this.

I worked all day and at 3 p.m. I went to Ruby’s and had my favorite chicken-pumpkin salad and another espresso. My girlfriend came over — it was her birthday — and we had some vodka before going out across the street to Mexican Radio— it’s low-key on Monday. I had two margaritas, their good guacamole, and chicken fajitas with pinto beans.

Tuesday, November 27
I had the same breakfast. (I need the morning thing to be the same even if it happens in the afternoon.) I had grilled salmon at 3 p.m. when I got hungry again (I had picked it up from Dean & DeLuca the day before) and some artichokes — it’s like $10 for four of them, but it’s worth it.

I met my friends for happy hour on Aurora — it’s this secret because they always put out all these hors d’oeuvre for anyone who sits at the bar. They’re so yummy. They had a grilled pita with white-bean dip. I got minestrone soup (it’s pretty hearty because there are noodles in it) and their artichoke salad with Pecorino shavings. And I had two martinis.

Wednesday, November 28
I’m on my way to the airport now. Something very colorful is going to happen today because I’m going to Vegas. The one redeeming quality about Vegas is that they do have good restaurants. I’m doing a showcase for Pepsi and meeting some of the executives — I’ll try to squeeze some absurd vintage wine out of them.