August 31, 2007
Packed a winter coat and braved the Arctic chill of Amesbury in Northern Massachusetts the other night.
What an unexpected delight! The center has all the charm of a coastal town without the pretentious sweater-over-the-shoulders crowd.
Word of warning to out of town folk, the Amesbury rotaries are absurd but they do have a street named Powow.
Went to Flatbread, a local pizza joint. It was wonderful. Granted they are a bit touchy feeling when it comes to their mantra - their printed materials should lose the words sacred, spirit and imagination. And honestly I suspect that pepperoni tastes better with nitrates.
The pizzas were great, as was the beer, as was the brownie dessert, as was the company. Laura just had a baby and this was one of her first times away from the kid, so she got to choose what we ate, drank and talked about and she was up to the task in hand.
Waitress was good, and nobody seemed to mind that our table was cursing like a bunch of sailors.
I was expecting polar bears, Aurora Borealis, igloos and eskimos but damn me if Northern Mass is only an hour from the People's Republic.
Went to Radius during restaurant week. No clue why, considering dinner for two ended up costing approx. $180 more than it should do during the aforementioned restaurant week.
Love their set up. You walk in and the maitre d is the gatekeeper to the restaurant. If she deems you worthy she opens a gate for you to enter the 'Kingdom of Radius'.
We get in!
Shuffle to our table and a few minutes later our extraordinarily tall dark and handsome waiter shows up ... with a reserve waitress stood behind him.
Knowing nothing about posh restaurant etiquette Anne and I spend the night supposing she is essentially his bitch. He asks what we want and she scurries off and writes it down. Survey says "Ugh Oh". I'm told she was probably in training. Ah well. Much prefer my option. A master waiter and a pimp.
This all happened a few weeks ago so forgive me if I don't remember the food details. During the time we were ordering, a train nearly hit us. The figurative wreckage ended up on the table next to us.
Saving the best for last I'll start with the guy. Badly cut but vaguely expensive suit (come on, if you're going to wear suits, just buy a few expensive ones and have them tailored to fit), the frames of his glasses looked a little headmistress-like to me, but also said "I like coke". Finished it off with a finely trimmed goatee.
Let's cut to the chase, the chick-ee-dee accompanying him had freakish breasts. Not 2 guys at a bar saying "check those out" breasts, but the kind that even my demur and proper wife said "Holy Jesus Christ those are massive tits". Of course she chose to reign them in with a bra 8 sizes too small and an ill-fitting spaghetti strap bingo* dress
* From the start of an English game of bingo, when the caller says "Eyes down and look in".
The waiter asked the 'lady' what she wanted to drink and the guy chimes in "We'll have Champagne". With few exceptions this is a douche move. He then requested a bottle of red for their main course. After the waiter and his white slave moved away, the guy tells his lady friend that Bordeaux is a place in France famous for its wine. Wow, we're sat next to a sommelier!
We had an amuse bouche, as a welcome from the chef. We felt special until we realized everyone got one.
Before our apps came out, the bread guy rolled into town. Talk about quick on the draw, the food wasn't even at my esophagus and there was another roll on the plate.
I started with rabbit. Inspired by Anne's course at Rendezvous. It was delicious until a day later when I found myself in the Liberty Tree mall pet shop looking at cute bunnies.
Anne began with warm foie gras. Don't know exactly what it is, but she was in a happy place while eating it, so must have been good.
I had filet mignon. Usually I order steak when I can find nothing else on the menu, but I was in the mood. Anne teased me because I ordered the meat on the rare side. I prefer well done, but I think when you are in anything higher than Fuddruckers it is offensive to the chef to order it too well done. That's me ... sensitive to the needs of the chef.
Anne ordered the $30 vegetable plate. I think we were both curious just how much veg you get for 30 big ones. It was cool, lots of varied veggies prepared in an artistic manner.
Meanwhile next door, we discovered that he was some kind of combination doctor/weapons expert, and she was not. They spoke as if it was a first or second date, and once in a while held hands across the table. She periodically giggled at the right spots in his conversation and all was going well until she blathered out how much she wanted kids, and a stoney uncomfortable silence ensued.
Not surprisingly the table on the other side was dysfunctional too. The woman ordered a bottle of wine but added "Although one of us has to drive home". The waiter (when not whipping the shackled wench behind him) suggested they order just a half bottle, at which the woman replied "Yes, and then we can order another half bottle later".
I turned to my darling wife and said "She's just effing stupid". As if to further my elucidate point wino woman spent the next 30 minutes
reading the wine list like it was some James Ellroy page turner.
We had dessert. Because why the hell not?
Anne ordered a cookie platter - the menu stated it was 'for one'. After the previously small haute cuisine portions she was suddenly faced with a platter that would not be out of place at an Italian wedding. Six cookies! Hey, six cookies are great at night when you are under a blanket watching the tube with a glass of milk, but shoveling down six cookies in a fancy restaurant is a bit much. So I finished them for her. After my cheese platter was taken away. Note to all: The Greeks makes sub-standard cheese.
Over at the first date table, the guy disappeared for 10 mins. I presumed 'coke run' but apparently his credit card did not work. It got to the stage where I nearly asked the circus freak if she was OK. I thought he had done a runner.
All in all a great night. A full belly and some great people watching.
August 7, 2007
It's a bistro!
A bijou spot on a Harvard back street. We chose it for a couple of reasons.
Monday was my birthday, and it's restaurant week.
We did not spend $30.07. Instead we went à la carte as English people in French restaurants like to say.
The greeter was very pleasant. We showed up 10 minutes early but she still showed us to our table. That's how it should be done Daedalus.
Our waitress was a little cold at first, unlike the Perrier on the table, but not to worry because she switched it for a chilled bottle.
Next she struggled with my syllable perfect pronunciation of the wine we ordered. My finely honed French led me to regale Anne with a story of Mrs Wallage my middle school French teacher who was smart enough to send her kids to the local Catholic school where they no doubt got a better education.
Regale? To entertain sumptuously! Fine wines and etymological feasting. Phew.
Anne started with a green salad that frankly had too much dressing. Two seasons of Top Chef and a handful of Gordon Ramsey shows and we think we're Zagat now? I opted for a Maine Crab Cake, because the French are famous for that. The accompanying slaw was wonderful. What an inane sentence.
Mains: Anne had a Lobster risotto which she said was perfect. I had chicken with Provençal herbal goodness.
We tidied off a choc dessert too.
We noticed the head chef was mingling with the clientele. His name is Raymond Ost. His business partner is Gwen Trost. I write this purely to illustrate that their names rhyme. (Apologies if one of them has a soft sounding "o").
Overall, excellent food and at $180 expensive enough to make us feel exceptionally guilty.
Well done Sandrine's