Allow me to acknowledge that I can be bought.
Granted, bought by a friend, but bought. A friend who hasn't seen me in several weeks, but bought.
Me: Where do you want to eat?
Friend: How about Bouchon? We always meet interesting people there.
Me: No, I just ate there less than a week ago.
Friend: How about if I buy the wine, then can we go?
Friend: Oh, come on.
It's not that I don't enjoy Bouchon; I do.
And last week's visit had been to experience the early prix fixe menu and tonight's plan was to sit at the bar and enjoy the frugal bar menu.
At least that's the rationalization I was working off of. I had to justify revisiting a restaurant so soon after having been there in a town rife with excellent and varied choices.
Bouchon was crawling with Gen Ass types when we arrived around 7:45; I mean suits as far as the eye could see.
We even had to wait for three of them to vacate their bar stools to even sit down ("I kept it warm for you," one of them told me, patting his stool).
So that you know, the wine for which I sold my preference down the river was a Lauverjat Sancerre Moulin des Vrilleres and I only had one glass.
As soon as the bartender saw me, he placed the framed bar menu in front of me, saying, "I know you like the bar menu."
It's true, the prices are the draw but the food always delivers.
Splurging on three $4 choices, I got the Bouchon salad, the quiche du jour (sun dried tomatoes, Swiss cheese and mushrooms) and the Croque Monsieur.
I've had the salad before and knew it was well done and found the quiche to be the deep-dish variety and full of flavor.
The Croque Monsieur was the highlight, thick with French ham and melted Gruyere on brioche. That was three very different tastes, more than enough food and all for a mere $12.
I patted myself on the back for a job well done.
For the same $12, my friend got a personal favorite there, the Coq au Vin, but then also splurged on pommes frittes (an itch I had scratched at lunch) and the speck tart (easily my favorite thing on the regular menu and one I've ordered far too often).
I think she was just jealous of my multi-tasting and couldn't settle for just one dish after all.
A nearby bar sitter was celebrating his birthday with some wine tasting with the chef once things settled down.
We toasted him and I asked if he wanted to tell me his age; he wound up as if to deliver the magic number in a big way and then said, "No."
His pregnant pause was so beautifully done that we both laughed out loud; I even felt it worthy of compliment.
The couple next to him, port drinkers, consisted of a guy raised in South Boston ("That's tobacco country, you know!") and his gal pal ("I was not a home wrecker. I am not the other woman.") who talked loudly and to anyone who would listen.
My friend, who travels constantly for work, gravitates to Bouchon because "it doesn't feel like it's in Richmond."
I don't know, with Gen Ass suits and tobacco country refugees, it certainly doesn't feel far off to me.
Not that it matters, what with the gift of wine and a $4 menu.
Some of us are just so easy to please.