It’s been virtually half a year since I sat indoors at a restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal, but lest I get overly nostalgic, let me walk down memory lane and share with you a few not so good memories which all took place at restaurants.
When I was in my 20’s, I stupidly asked my Mother to recommend a restaurant in New York City to take a blind date. As my date and I sat down at our table, I took one look at the menu and almost passed out. The name of the restaurant was “Laurent,” and God only knows what my Mother was thinking!
The prices were astronomical. What turned out to be one of New York’s finest restaurants would have been a perfect location were I to propose marriage to the young lady, but I had never even met her before. I ordered the tomato juice, the least expensive item on the menu, and prayed my date got the hint. She most assuredly did not. She ordered the shrimp cocktail.
This pattern continued throughout the meal. I ordered chicken and she had the filet mignon. Quite frankly, she devoured each course as if she had not eaten a meal in days. When it came to dessert, things got worse if that were even possible. She actually ordered two desserts, which is when I had enough. “You order one dessert at a time, and if you are still hungry, then you can order a second dessert,” I explained to her as if she were a toddler.
Of course, she polished off the first and then the second dessert. I barely had enough money in the bank to pay the bill, and you needn’t ask, I never saw that woman again.
Years later when I was married to my bride, we went with our dear friends Charlie and Carol Stolar to Le Bernardin, one of New York’s finest restaurants. As I recall, we were celebrating our wives having just graduated with advanced degrees. Charlie is a true gourmet (I am not), and so I thought it would be a good idea for Charlie to order dinner for me. I had not eaten anything all day in anticipation of this feast. Charlie ordered a martini for me to be followed by a multi course dinner.
I am not a big drinker and had never had a martini before then or after, for that matter. I took a sip and did not like the taste one little bit. Now for those of you who think that any person who went to Harvard is some kind of genius, let me set you straight, because this Harvard genius decided the best way to get rid of the martini was to chug it like distasteful medicine, and on an empty stomach to boot.
The first course was absolutely divine and the second course was equally delicious. By the third course I noticed a strange sensation. I distinctly remember entering the restaurant with two legs, but no matter how hard I tried, I could only feel one of my legs. Where the other leg had gone beats me. I needed to go to the bathroom and hopped there on one leg because the other leg was missing in action.
I don’t remember much else about that night other than my bride drove me home after seemingly hitting every pothole on the West Side Highway, and I collapsed on my bed without ever removing my jacket or pants.
And then there was the time only a couple of decades ago when my bride and I went to an up and coming New York restaurant known for its creative food presentation. Dessert arrived, and I remember it looking distinctly like a bird’s nest with a scoop of orange sorbet resembling the yolk of an egg. I tried the sorbet which was scrumptious, and then took a bite out of the egg shell wondering what it was made of.
Actually it tasted more like an egg shell than any food I had ever eaten. Curious person that I am, I asked the waiter what the egg shell was made of. He looked rather perplexed, “Sir, that is an egg shell you have been eating.” He could not rush back to the kitchen fast enough trying discreetly to control his laughter, and from the depths of the kitchen I distinctly heard somebody shout, “Schmuck!”
So you can understand that although I am looking forward to returning to the world of restaurant dining, I do so with more than a slight amount of trepidation.