Friday, February 15, 2008

Isn't It Romantic

The title refers to one of my favorite piano pieces, "Isn't It Romantic" from the movie Hannah and Her Sisters. I placed the mp3 in my Music Box widget which is located on the RH side of this blog below the archives (look over there ------>), so you can take a listen. (Yes, I know the widget is all screwed up looking, I'm working on that, but in the meantime you can still play it)

That song always makes me feel a little nostalgic for the Good Old Days...I don't know why but there is definitely a poignant longing in the way he plays this very beautiful song. I have probably listened to this song a bazillion times but I never tire of hearing it.

The song matched last night's experience at Stark's restaurant. I did take a little movie of the place with my cell phone but it was so dark in there, hardly anything can be seen. It's simply a gorgeous restaurant, a real labor of love by the owners, very 30's or 20's feeling. A tribute to the era before WWII, before the stock crash, before we lost that sense of late 1800's opulent luxury we once took for granted and hardly ever see today, especially here on the West Coast. Rich, dark hues everywhere within to match the incredibly rich, but delicious, food.

Heidi greeted us and showed us to our table. Apparently we were lucky to get it as patrons had been fighting over our table not ten minutes before we arrived, despite the large "RESERVED" sign clearly displayed. The joint was hopping, there was that great "buzz" inside fun restaurants have; people milling about at the bar, or sitting at cozy tables for two, or grouped in the leather booths. Laughing, chatting, sharing food and drink, celebrating the evening while music fitting both the occasion and the style of the place played gently in the background.

I was a little disappointed that there was not a live piano player sitting at the baby grand but I got over it once Heidi brought us our drinks. Daws had his usual Jack and Coke but I went for something new Heidi had recommended; a "Sidecar". Friends, have you heard of this "Sidecar" drink? If not, order one next time you're out; you won't regret it. Heaven, ambrosia in a glass! I kid you not! Orange and cognac, god knows what else, served in a martini glass rimmed with sugar.

A girly-girl drink. I was surprised it didn't have an umbrella sticking out of it.

Drinks in hand, sitting side-by-side against the booth side of our table, watching the scene, we felt very decadent indeed.

I'd dropped by earlier in the day at VJB winery near Kenwood to pick up a bottle of Sangiovese Cab blend for Dawson since he's such a Sangiovese Hound. Heidi opened the bottle to let it breathe while we sipped our cocktails. (Yes, you can bring wine as long as you pay the $20 corkage fee.)

Daws ordered Lobster soup as a starter and invited me to share with him. OMG! It was fabulous. Although I had said I'd only have a few bites, gradually I started spooning more and more until finally I growled at Daws threateningly and yanked the entire bowl away from him, tipping it up to my chin and chugging it all down before he could take it away from me eat it all.

Okay, not really.

But I wanted to. Oh yes.

Then we opened our cards to each other. Dawson's made me crack up:

(Note: There was also copious mushy stuff written by my husband for me on the LH side of the card but I'm not sharing that you guys since One: you'll make fun of us and Two: it's none of your beeswax what he said to me privately. Not that you lot want to know, anyway. So there.)

My card to him had cats on it too. SURPRISE! Yes, case you didn't know before now, we are a tad "cat obsessive". Okay, let me amend that:

We're just obsessively nerdy altogether. In almost every way. But that's okay, that's why we match each other so well!

Daws ordered the New York Strip for him and the Kobe Beef for me. We debated being sensible and sharing a side dish but succumbed to the temptation of getting our own, so I got the Potatoes Gratin Fennel and Daws got the Mac-n-Cheese.

It was all fantastic. Heidi poured wine and we ate and drank and shared bites of each other's foods and drank and ate and drank some more, and...hooo boy. We tried to slow down but it was all so good and far too soon my body said, "ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME OR WHAT?" So I had to stop. Heidi is so sweet; when we asked if she could please box the rest of the food to take home, she looked concerned lest we feel faint from malnutrition.

"You really didn't eat that much, you know," she said with a puzzled look. "Are you sure you don't want to finish?" We just stared back at her with owl eyes, feebly waving at the food.


You know, I honestly never ever thought I would be in a position where I didn't want more wine. But I didn't. That's how full I felt. Yeah. Enough to make one weep.

So of course, Dawson ordered coffee to help "perk us up". Hey, that makes sense! COFFEE! My savior! At Stark's, the coffee is brought in individual silver carafes and poured by your server; you're not allowed to touch the coffee urns yourselves. A good thing as I found out after Heidi left; those suckers are HOT! OW! Yes, I'm still a little kid inside sometimes..."now, whatever you do, don't touch that..."

wait for them to leave

touch touch TOUCH! "Nyah! NYAH! You can't tell me anything, I'll do WHATEVER I WANT TO!"

Ow. :(

Yeah, I'm the customer who, when the wait-person cautions, "these plates are HOT; don't touch!", I touch it once they leave. (How hot can it be? I wonder to myself...AUGH! That's really friggin' HOT!)

Yeah...I was never a particularly bright child.

Of course, you cannot have coffee without a dessert, right? I said, RIGHT? Right-o. One cannot possibly.

So of course we ordered the creme brulee and oh good god! I think that was the hit of the night. Srsly. Perfectly browned, so the crust was yummy tap-able and they had used salt of all things for a wonderfully dichotic flavor! The salt was the perfect counterpoint to the sweet and washed down with the hot coffee...superb.

Kudos to Chef!

As we got up, hugged Heidi and thanked her for such a wonderful experience and rolled ourselves Weeblestyle to stuff our bloated bodies into our car left the restaurant, sated, happy and filled with bonhomie for each other and the entire world, we agreed it had been a magical night.

Then we drove home, walked in the door, collapsed into a heap together on the couch in True Heart-of-America Couch Potato fashion and watched "Survivor"; our bodies still a tad overwhelmed by the massive amounts of food and drink, then stumbled blearily off to bed.

Where I dreamed incessantly that I'd insanely agreed to go on Laura's canoe trip in May. I kept saying to everyone, "No! No, I can't go, I have no bathing suit, no, I can't go, no, I have my CAMERA, no, I can't do it, no no no I DON'T WANT TO..."

But nobody listened.


Here's the vid I took, remember, it's really dark so don't expect much:


Daws said...

I'm STILL weebling around today.

But G-ddamn, that steak was GOOD. Cooked perfectly, too. And you forgot the sauces! The Bear-i-naise sauce!

Annie said...

I think a few lettuce leaves and some water is in order for tonight's dinner. And that's IT! SRSLY!

Laura said...

Sounds like you two had a fabulous time! :)YEAH Canoe trip!! ;)

Kela said...

Sounds glorious! We tried many of those things too and just loved them!!! Wanted so bad to try the creme brule (yeah I can't spell) but we were just too full! Seems a little goes a LONG way at Starks!

Funny - My family and I are planning a rafting trip this summer too!!! :)

Since you and Laura and putting me to shame with all this blogging greatness - I gotta get on it!