Long before I realized what tonight was, a friend had suggested getting together this evening, which worked out really well for me when I got invited to a Superbowl party. Love to; sorry, busy.
Her original suggestion had been to go to Cafe Caturra and sit by the fire, but by the time I got to her house, she was craving a steak and rethinking that plan.
I was willing to go someplace else, but held fast to my only requirement: no TVs. She desperately called Buckhead's (private event), Fleming's (TVs at the bar), Azurro and Bacchus (closed) and Morton's before giving up. Cafe Caturra it was after all.
It turned out to be just what we could have hoped for. Our perky server immediately informed us of the Superbowl specials, probably the last thing we expected at a wine bar.
All wines by the glass were $5, all appetizers $4 and if we both bought a glass of wine (duh; what do you think we're here for?), we also got a free appetizer. Most importantly, as our server said, "I love coming to work here tonight cause there's no TVs!" Amen, sister.
I decided on the Morgadio "Legado del Conde" Albarino now that it no longer had its $9.75 a glass price tag. The wingback chairs in front of the fireplace were being vacated just as our wine was being poured, so we appropriated them.
It wasn't long before a staff member came over to rebuild the fire for us. Then the braised short ribs, caramelized onion and Gorgonzola cheese crostini arrived. Wine, check. Fire, check, Food, check. Super what?
The crostini were difficult to eat because the short ribs were piled so high that there was no ladylike way to bite them and shoving the whole thing in our mouths resulted in chipmunk cheeks. We managed for the sake of that trio of flavors, though.
We followed with the least Superbowl-like thing we could possibly order: salads. Mine was a mixture of chopped Romaine with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and Gorgonzola in a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette (which left the oddest color tinge on the greens, but tasted great).
Not knowing whom to expect, we were pleased that we weren't the only football refugees. There were a half dozen couples, several female duos, two guys deep in business talk and working on a computer the entire evening (at least they were imbibing) and a family with a toddler and baby.
The music was pure baby boomer, with a strong emphasis on 60s and 70s rhythm and blues: Al Green, Jackson Five, Bill Withers, Temptations, O'Jays. We had to laugh when the baby got to squalling because the music's volume was immediately raised in an attempt to drown him out.
Since we hadn't seen each other in a few weeks, we did the girl talk thing, me with my recent forays into meeting guys and she with her tales of her new relationship.
Even with some of my more amusing anecdotes and filling her in on some of the most interesting people I've met (she wants to call them PMs, for practice men), neither of us could compete with the story she'd recently heard from a friend in California about her love life adventures.
Let's just say I'd never heard of making love while you're on a conference call, even if the mute button was on. I'd even say I was a tad envious, except that I don't want to be on a conference call, with or without the extracurricular activity.
Our server seemed surprised at our staying power because we'd arrived before kickoff, but with the roaring fire and the deal on wine, it made no sense to go anywhere. Hell, after a while, the fire stoker knew us by name and we him; he seemed to enjoy the audience.
Periodically our server would come by and ask if we wanted more wine, her tone clearly anticipating that we'd decline, except that we always accepted. No doubt she was regretting ever telling us about the Superbowl specials.
As opposed to my friend and I, who didn't have a single regret between us about how we'd spent the big game night. Go, team.