Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arguably My Favorite Restaurant Memory

     Everybody should have at least one outstanding restaurant story. It could be a meal, a location, a particular group of people that made that story happen. What's important is that it did happen and provides endless smiles at the memory.  Those who were in on this particular story will remember it fondly. The names will be changed to protect the innocent. Details are as accurate as I can remember, but it's been a dozen or so years.
     It was a fairly large group. If I recall correctly, it was myself and six or seven other people. We were going to dinner at Cucina Bella in Chicago. Somehow one of the group had arranged for us to have the "kitchen table."  What this meant was we had a large table in the actual kitchen of the restaurant. We would have a first hand view of the cooking and would be completely at the chef's mercy for our menu. Whatever he felt like cooking for us is what we would be eating.
     Here's the problem. Apart from dessert, I don't remember what we ate (more on that later). I remember heat and noise, and loud voices. I remember clanging cookware and the rattle of plates. Mostly I remember laughter. There are a number of reasons why I can't remember what I ate. It was chaotic in there. Plates came and went from our table at an alarming rate. I was watching the chef and his staff at work. We were laughing with each other and everyone else. We had a lot to drink.
     This drinking played a large role in the evening. We didn't get out of hand or stupid, not by any stretch of the imagination. However, we did have A LOT to drink. I know the girls had three or four bottles of wine. I know we all went through probably a half dozen bottles of Sambuca, easy. We were pouring shots for the waitstaff and kitchen staff. It was a complete blast.
Had someone lit a match around us after all that Sambuca
it would have been a literal blast.
     I do remember dessert. It was a bunch of red, seedless grapes encased in frozen dark chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar. It was simple and wonderful. The same of which could not be said for the check.
     The check was placed at the table and I don't recall who was the first to look at it, but I do recall the response:
There's a good chance this is what they were wearing.
     The bill was over $800. Keep in mind that this was in the early 1990's so adjusted for inflation, it was like  a $1252 bill in today's dollars. We were looking at just shy of $100 each with tip. Naturally, nobody had more than fifty or sixty bucks each. My buddy's girlfriend did, however, have a credit card which we promptly shanghaied and used to pay the tab. We then proceeded to find the nearest ATM and get the needed cash to reimburse her. We also needed to reload our wallets to go to, if I remember correctly, Club Octagon. That portion of the trip would lead to the Great Scotch and Water Argument. That's a story for another time.
     In the end, was it worth nearly one hundred bucks for a meal that I don't even remember? I believe it was. Sometimes a meal isn't just about the food you eat. It's about where you eat it and the people you eat it with. 

Good times!

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