So, the academic year is over, the grades are in, the galleys are in, and though there is still lots to do, there's time for a bit of relaxation. David surprises me with reservations at La Grenouille, a venerable mid-town restaurant. We rarely dine out, in part because I love to cook and we have crazy schedules but also because we both watch our weight and because in this town even a casual meal in a local spot can be expensive.
The dining room is elegant, the patrons are attractive and smartly dressed; the recession seems not to have reached this oasis. We are well cared for by the attentive but not overbearing staff. The food is spectacular (duck breast with rhubarb sauce for me, halibut with olive oil and artichokes for him and ouef a la neige for dessert (a classic French dessert that I haven't had since I bicycled through France a gazillion years ago). A glass of Pinot Noir for me, Sancerre for him. Not to mention a glass of Pol Roger champagne to accompany our appetizers: sweetbreads for one of us, "choix des hors d'oeuvres" for the other. Divine.
As we took our seats on the banquette, we noticed the table of three to my left. The gentleman had before him a large roasted chicken with a side of asparagus. "Why order chicken in a place like this?" we wondered. Well if you're a regular, sometimes you want the chicken. Besides, a perfectly roasted chicken is no small accomplishment. Soon, our fellow diner had reduced his chicken to a pile of bones. The plate was whisked away and replaced by a entree sized serving of two plump juicy rare tournedos of beef with more asparagus. There was bread. There was wine. He tucked into his beef and polished it off with dispatch. He signals the waiter. Away goes the plate. Moments later, another serving of the beef is placed before him. He makes fast work of that too and signals the waiter. Time for dessert. Let's see, what'll it be? Ahh, more beef! In the span of an hour (we had barely finished our appetizers) he'd eaten a chicken and three servings of filet mignon! Where did it go? He was a slender man, mid-forties? nicely dressed and coiffed and in the company of two attractive women who picked at their meals. He paid the check. (I should hope so!)