Friday, February 8, 2008

Out of my league...

Every day, I wake up, take a shower, brush my teeth, then go find a place to have lunch. This gives me a chance to explore the city on my own and figure out where places are. Usually, I walk through campus to Northumberland street, the shopping district, to find a place to eat. Yesterday, however, I decided to walk in the opposite direction and go to Quayside. I almost immediately became lost and started wondering down river in search of a restaurant. I passed many, each displaying a menu in their window. All of these restaurants looked quite nice, but upon viewing the menu, I realized that they were way out of my price range. So I kept walking...

After about an hour, I came upon an older looking building with a bunch of chalk scribbled menu items out front. At the top of one of the chalkboards was "Lunch special 6.95". It wasn't lunch time, but I figured that the dinner prices must be in that range. So I walked in, then down two flights of stairs to the main entrance door. I walked in, and found myself surrounded by fancy schmance...

It was incredibly dark in this basement room, the only lighting coming from small candles on the tables and fiber optic lights on the ceiling meant to simulate stars. I was seated before I could turn away by a host dressed in a full tuxedo. I look around at the other customers, all in slacks and button down shirts, some with ties. The women were in fancy dresses. I'm wearing my three year old zip up sweatshirt, the one I wore every day freshman year of college. This sweatshirt had more beer spilled on it than I can remember, plus I'm pretty sure the weed stench is embedded in the fibers. It has various permanent stains, and the zipper has been broken for ages.
Complete with old tattered jeans, the ones with that nasty rip at the end of the pant leg and clear signs of too many washings...

So I'm sitting uncomfortably by myself in this restaurant surrounded by rich fifty-somethings all dressed up drinking their 25 pound glasses of wine and giving me "the eye". I give a halfhearted smile and take a look at the menu...


It read something like:
"Lobster Cocktail with Pesto Mayonnaise

Escargot Pot de Crème

Twin Beef Tournedos with Port Wine, Stilton Cheese and Green Peppercorn Sauce

Veal with Blackberry Sauce

Rack of Lamb with Sauce Paloise

Homemade Orange Ice Cream with Bittersweet Chocolate bits

Lavender Crème Brulèe"

That wasn't the actual menu, I got that here, but you get the idea...

The waiter in the tux approaches me and says, "Sir, what may I offer you to drink this evening, sir?"


"Sparkling or still?"

Shit! Now I have to pay for the water.


"And your wine for this evening, sir?"

Do I look like I can afford a 30 pound glass of wine!?

"No wine for me, thanks."

So he leaves, and a waitress approaches me with some bread in a basket. I'm expecting the whole basket, but she uses some fancy fork/spoon/robot arm mechanism to grab me a single piece of bread and places it delicately on my just-big-enough bread plate...

Two bites later, the tuxedo waiter returns with a glass bottle of Voss and small glass with lime atop a silver plater. After filling the glass and placing it on my table with perfect symmetry, he asks:

"And what shall we be having this evening, sir?"

It's 5:15 PM...

"Um..let's see. The 'Golden Encrusted Chicken on a whipped bed of Sweet Yams with a White Wine Honey Glaze'."

The cheapest thing on the menu. A mere 15.95.

"Ah, good choice, sir. I'll have that out for you as soon as possible, sir."



I sip my water slowly, knowing that another bottle might cost me the plane ride home. A few minutes later, my food arrives...
To be fair, it tasted really good. About as good as that steak and ale pie that I had at The Goose for 2.99, but that meal filled me for hours, and this took about 90 seconds to finish. When tuxedo waiter noticed I was finished, he approached and said:

"Would you like a sweets menu, sir?"


"No thanks, the check will be fine."

I paid 22 pounds for the meal (15.95 for the chicken wing, 2.25 for the deluxe artesian water, 4.00 tip), and got the hell out of there. I can only imagine what both the management and the other patrons thought of the experience, but as soon as I stepped foot in the place, I immediately thought "blog entry"...


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