I remember restaurants. Sitting at a table and waiting for food. Surveying the other tables and imagining their life stories: whether the middle-aged couple were discussing the benefits and drawbacks of redrawing on their mortgage in order to buy an investment property in the city; the young lovers who caressed each others’ hands in a spiritual fashion, as if they were transferring currents of energy between themselves; the gentleman sitting alone, who was enjoying the cuisine and his privacy in a public setting. I remember these experiences vividly because it is a true rarity to dine in a restaurant these days.
Parents out there will know what I’m talking about; you want to go to a restaurant, but it’s way too much hassle. Admittedly, we’ve managed a few trips to restaurants. Mostly low-key dining. There’s a great Vietnamese place that we go to that is relatively quiet, so we can manage that with the pram and everything. The kind of place where your food appears within ten minutes, so you can wolf it down before it’s your turn to mind the baby. There was this one rude guy at the Vietnamese restaurant who was giving my partner a ‘greasy’ (dirty look) because she was breastfeeding, despite the fact that she was using a feeding cape. What a bastard. Sadly, I didn’t give him a ‘greasy’ in return. I really could have because he was as ugly as hell and his face alone was ruining my meal. Sometimes there’s no reward for taking the high road.
Above: a prime example of a ‘greasy’. If you receive one, be sure to return the favour.
Another recent paradigm shift is that the concept of a ‘hot’ meal has taken on new meaning: stone cold has been upgraded to ‘warm’. I was eating some steak the other day for a special birthday occasion and I was minding our daughter, whilst my partner took her turn eating her meal. The wait-person asked if I’d like the food to be warmed up under the heat-lamp, but I was fine with my cold steak and mash. You just get used to it. Cold is better than going hungry.
As a result of these largely unsuccessful dining experiences I now get excited by take-away. Whether it’s MSG-laden Chinese food, a gourmet pizza with so much topping that you can barely hold a slice without a landslide occurring or even run-of-the-mill Thai food; I don’t care, I love it. This is the closest I can get to a restaurant experience. I haven’t gotten to the stage of playing shitty smooth jazz and putting bad art on the walls of my apartment while we dine on our re-heated take- away….yet. I’m this close to ordering a butter chicken and buying Harry Connick Jr’s Greatest Hits.
At the lunch table some of my colleagues were waxing lyrical about the latest new restaurant, Chiswick. Apparently the décor is ‘Hamptonsesque’ and everybody who’s anybody is dining there. Clearly, I am ‘nobody’. I wasn’t offended or even jealous when this colleague was talking about the nouveau cuisine that is dished up at the restaurant du jour*. In fact, I’m glad other people can enjoy these culinary delights, I really am. The difference is that I’m a death row inmate when it comes to dining and I’m aware that like an inmate, my last meal will be take-away.
Above: A photo of Chiswick, a restaurant I hear about every 19 seconds.
*Good restauranteurs that run/own Chiswick, I’m sure your restaurant lives up to the hype. I will arrange a baby sitter and eat at your restaurant if you would like to give my partner and I a complementary meal, in return for the shameless (albeit satirical) plug I have provided. All seven of my readers (yes, I am one of them) will mention your restaurant in a water-cooler style context.