Since tonight was the Richmond Forum, I knew in advance that most of the decent restaurants within a two-mile radius of the Landmark would be mobbed until 7:40 and right I was.
Accordingly, I made plans to meet a friend at Bacchus at 7:30 (which to her means 7:45). I arrived a little early to an overflowing restaurant, most of whom exited stage right within ten minutes.
I sat down at the bar nearest the heater, shivering and waiting for my friend to arrive. In no time at all, the restaurant completely filled up again.
The two guys sitting next to me genially engaged me in conversation.
They had just come from seeing Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" at the Westhampton.
Since I was already considering seeing this movie, I asked how they'd liked it (greatly) and commented that I was a big fan of Almodovar's films.
"Like what?" one of them asked. "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down," I responded.
"Would you like to see more of that sort of thing?" one of the guys suggestively asked.
At that moment my friend arrived, effectively ending a potential discussion of bondage with a complete stranger.
We had a lovely meal.
I had white beans with pesto and mixed greens, followed by wild boar meatballs with mushrooms over white beans.
Yes, it was more white beans than I probably needed, but the subtly seasoned meatballs were absolutely delicious, not that they screamed wild boar (or wild anything for that matter) for the gastronomically timid, like my friend.
By this time, friend was ready for a change of scenery, so we headed up the block to Rowland for dessert.
Seating ourselves at the bar near a lone bar sitter, we were surprised at how full the restaurant was.
It didn't take long for the bar sitter to join us in conversation and merrymaking, making for a most enjoyable shift in dynamic for the evening.
A Philly native, he told us where to find the best Philly cheese steak in RVA and friend told him where to find the best rotisserie chicken in Arlington.
We ordered desserts (tiramisu and hazelnut chocolate torte) and liquid refreshment and proceeded to fill the next three hours with mutual getting-to-know-you-superficially conversation.
At times fast and furious and at times teasing and jocular, we inadvertently delayed our new friend from his intended plans for the rest of the evening.
He didn't complain about it and seemed strong enough of character to have left if he'd really wanted to.
I will give him credit, though; he stayed consistent with his story (his claim, not mine), quoted Shakespeare and complimented my smile.
Bonus points for all three.
Shortly after 1, the owners remembered that they had brunch coming up in too few hours, so we bundled up against the cold and started down the sidewalk.
Across the street, groups were still heading into Sidewalk, but we adjourned for the evening with our hunger and humor satisfied.