Monday, March 15, 2010

Cafe Ole and My Friendly Rebuttal

Back when I worked downtown, a co-worker and I made regular pilgrimages to Cafe Ole on Thursdays for fish tacos, which we both loved. The place was always stupidly busy with an endless stream of people coming in to eat or grab take-out. Through my usual nosey conversations with other eaters, I had discovered how many of them frequented the place more than once a week because they enjoyed the food so much. And I hadn't been there in over a year.

With it being spring break this week, my teaching friend was free and asked me to lunch, suggesting Cafe Ole because he hadn't been in ages either. So we braced for the crowds and went off in search of mid-day Mexican. He knows the owner, Betsy, and sure enough, when she saw him, her first question was about when he was going to put up a show of his photographs on her walls. Apparently she's asked him before and he's been slow to respond. Too bad, really, considering how many people frequent this place and would get a chance to see his interesting work, here.

Maybe it was the cool, damp weather or maybe just Monday malaise, but the hordes that usually fill the place at lunch time were quite manageable today. We made the mistake of sitting in the front dining room, though, so with every time the front door opened, the room temperature dropped a little. I had the classic nachos and photo friend had a quesadilla, but helped me a bit with my overly-generous serving. With Cafe Ole, it's their chips that make them rise above the Mexican fray; everyone who eats there regularly mentions their thin, crispy, salty perfection. Buried under nacho toppings, they not only held their own but elevated a pretty standard dish (refried beans, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cheddar).

Afterwards, we went location scouting for a shoot my friend has on Wednesday. It's a futuristic-looking model he'll be using, so he was seeking an unidentifiable and industrial kind of setting. We did endless loops through a VCU building, finding any number of anonymous halls and sterile stairways that would suit his purpose; he did quick shots of each for consideration later.

Meanwhile, I peered into chemistry labs and dreary math classrooms and admired the third story view of Main Street, Harrison Street and the walkways below behind the tennis bubble. I saw giant beakers as tall as my legs and canisters of gas that reached my chest; it all felt kind of scientific and abandoned, like a movie set for a sci-fi film I'd undoubtedly never see.

And speaking of unseen movies, I spent the first half hour of our time together taking abuse from my friend who'd discovered on my blog that I've never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let's just say he was in cultural shock over my oversight and wanted to rub it in for as long as possible. I make no apologies; I am not a fan of adventure films and I know a sufficient amount about it to understand the cultural references. That's enough for me.

When we'd first walked into the VCU building, a flier for a writing class had caught my eye. One of the things the class promised to teach its students was "how to make friends with your counter argument." I'm practically BFF with my rebuttal of his argument that I'm a film cretin for not having seen one of the seminal films of the 1980s.

Didn't want to, didn't have to. Getting along just fine without having seen it. I couldn't be friendlier with my counter argument, but it helps that I know what's right for me.


  1. I'm not sure if I've asked you this before, but would you mind terribly if I added you to the food blog aggregator?

    Feel free to email with your thoughts. But be warned, if you resist, I will attempt to persuade you. Cheers.

  2. And by persuade, you mean debate me?