What kind of idiot thinks she can park near the Jefferson during holiday season? Me, but after fifteen minutes of driving around, I realized the error of my thinking and just accepted the endless loops around the blocks.
I finally found a space on Grace Street, only to discover once I arrived that I could have used the valet parking since I was having dinner. Live and learn.
The holiday diners were crowding Lemaire when I walked in, but luckily two bar stools opened up when party-goers departed the bar for the dining room. My friend and I swooped in, claiming the stools in time to qualify for Discovery wine prices ($10 a bottle), easily the highlight of Wednesdays at Lemaire.
I decided on the jumbo lump crab cake sandwich on an English muffin with remoulade and tomato. When offered my choice of sides, I originally asked for fresh fruit, but my friend insisted on fries so I changed my order. She went with the Berkshire pork chop and grits, so you can see why she wanted fries.
My sandwich arrived with fruit, but my server graciously agreed to go fetch the missing fries, but not before instructing me to eat the mistaken fruit (melon, cantaloupe, pineapple and blackberries) in the interim. Okay, if you insist.
The crabcake passed this Maryland-raised crab lover's standards, with hunks of lump crabmeat falling out with each bite. That's what we're talking about when we say jumbo lump in Maryland.
When my fries arrived, they were well fried and fairly large (almost steak fries), tasting of potato and not just crispiness. I traded some for two bites of her porkchop.
For those who may not know (and that would not be most of the people at the bar around us), the secret to Discovery wine night is to order the second bottle by 7:00, whether you're ready for it or not. Or so I've heard from wine lovers, so we did.
Tonight's occasion was hearing about my friend's recent weekend in NYC with her new paramour and she did have tales to tell, all good. You'd think that listening to anecdotes from a romantic weekend would be like forcing a starving man to listen to tales of a feast, but I actually enjoy hearing about the possibilities of romance (you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one).
Dessert was Humbolt Fog, fruit and crackers, as fine a finish as I could have wanted. My friend went with a last course of lentil soup (don't ask), but by the time we both finished, we were full and decided to call it a night.
Just as we were paying our check, I noticed the bright red drinks going to the two guys next to us and made a suitable holiday comment, only mildly derisive. Little did I realize that that was the invitation the two guys from Ohio needed to join us.
They turned out to be delightful company, one a basketball player turned psychiatrist and the other a business owner. Before long, they knew way too much about us and were psychoanalyzing my friend (I escaped due to my absence of a love life) and her relationship with her ex.
I was at least able to join in on the discussion of the word smitten, a favorite of mine for its specific connotation (and personal history). We moved on to what is allowable outside a relationship in terms of male/female ties, a subject which turned out to be quite emotional (except for those of us not dating).
At one point, I quoted my friend Danny ("Men are simple creatures"), a point with which both the Ohioans agreed. One told us that men want to be asked about their feelings, a fact which surprised both my friend and me. Sometimes you can glean the most interesting information from strangers.
Eventually, one of the guys excused himself (they had a 6 a.m. flight) and told the other guy to sign for their bar tab ($189) and he'd see his friend in the morning. The remaining visitor finished the analysis of my friend, looking to me for backup now that his partner in crime was gone.
Hey, I don't know nothing about sustaining no relationships. You're looking at the wrong backup, friend.