Feeling a tad nervous tonight, I figured a stop for a bit of food and wine in familiar environs would be a good way to relax into the rest of my evening.
So I went to Six Burner, also the destination for an awful lot of other people tonight. I did get a chance to see Beth Marchant's show of works after Picasso; they were uncanny for their similarities to the originals. We'll call them cover paintings, like cover songs.
When I was asked what my wine preference was, I asked for the Warwick Pinotage, only to be told that it was no longer the featured red.
It was a good time to put on my pouty face because the wine rep who carries it was sitting at the bar. More is on order, I was told.
A zinfandel was suggested, tasted and rejected and I ended up choosing the Concannon Petit Syrah. Not nearly as good a pairing with springbok as the Pinotage would have been, but then I wasn't having springbok tonight.
Enjoying the roasted beet salad with goat cheese and pistachios in balsamic vinaigrette, I considered the sugar toads, but went with the fluke sashimi (with chicharron, ponzu, red plum, horseradish and bacon powder) instead.
The dish demonstrates why I want talented people to cook for me. The fluke and pork rind combination came together on the plate as if they were meant to be partnered, with the ponzu positively sop-worthy. I savored my first bacon powder, wondering how in the world such a thing is conceived of, much less made.
Tonight it was the staff who kept me entertained because there were no other bar sitters. It worked out well because I got to hear about a breakup that resulted in a reunited couple and who doesn't love a happy ending story?
The owner was telling me about some of the Picasso specials various restaurants have come up with and I had to wonder how many blue drinks Richmond will have for the next three months. Just a thought, folks, but it may have been more appetizing to focus on the painter's Rose Period.
I got to hear a long-time service industry employee get on her restaurant soapbox and tell me her interpretation of how things should be in terms of menus, staff and ambiance. She thanked me for listening and I thanked her for sharing her informed opinions; it's how I learn things.
From there it was on to Patrick Henry's to meet a recent acquaintance for some extended conversation. When he'd suggested it, my first thought had been that it would be perfect in that we could be alone in a roomful of people I wouldn't likely know.
Wrong. Ten minutes in and we had one of my music buddies stop by the table to say hi. My new friend's neighbors came in. Forget discretion in this town because there is no privacy when you're out and about.
But that's fine because the visitor returned to his table, the neighbors ignored us and we had the rest of the evening to discuss all kinds of things amongst ourselves.
It went so well that I wondered why I'd ever been nervous about an evening of talking. Or maybe I mistook anticipation for nerves.
Look at me, actually anticipating. That's progress with a capital P.