by Neal Rubin

Friday, 3:30 A.M.:
I'll Have the Steak, Fries and Yada, Yada, Yada

   For most of us, the meat district is two aisles away from the eggs-and-milk district. Manhattan's meat district has bars, a bagel shop and Florent, a sort of low-priced, high-toned, everyone-and-no-one French diner. A trifling $13.50, my splendid flank steak in mustard sauce with even more splendid french fries was the most expensive item on the menu. In much of New York, $13.50 is a down payment on the parsley.
   Florent is known for its jarring brick-red banquettes, long hours, eclectic crowd and sense of humor. A helpful message board behind the counter offered a list of nearby nightclubs and, at the end, an option: "Or stay home and read to each other."
   Ten of the tables were busy when we ordered. Our dining companions included a man with a David Niven ascot and dreadlocks and a couple of faux furs. His was a leopard vest. Next to us, a woman with a sunburst tattoo on her wrist was in deep conversation with a man in a leather jacket.
   She looked up as two tall, slender, perfect women and a tall, slender, perfect man walked in, all dressed in black. "Ugh," she said. "Models."