Friday, June 15, 2012

Let It Bleed

Call me a killer queen.

I drank my Moet et Chandon in front of a pretty cabinet.

Actually, it was a giant safe made over into a wine cabinet, but you get the point.

I was at the new 525, the restaurant in the old Berry Burke space catty-cornered from Center Stage.

Turns out it was their first night of official business and it's where I was meeting a dapper couple for dinner.

I arrived to find the bar in complete disarray since their first liquor order had just come in so they were busy stocking the back bar.

No matter, we took a bar table in the window that faces Grace Street.

Friend suggested the Moet et Chandon Imperial Brut Reservet to keep us occupied until his beloved arrived and who am I to argue with dry, French bubbles I can't afford?

We sipped while checking out the new restaurant, him noticing the absence of art on the walls and me commenting on the music being played (Maroon 5, Norah Jones).

The space is packed tight with tables and banquettes, so it looks to be noisy when full. Menswear accents aside, the design is spare.

Once we moved to a table, we were fronting 6th Street, with a picture perfect view of CenterStage's impressive facade.

A bottle of Rooiberg Sauvignon Blanc was a thoughtful concession to my fondness for South African wines.

The menu made it clear that it was an opening night menu only, so we chose from what was available.

A shrimp cocktail sauteed in butter and garlic came with tartar sauce and was a generous six pieces.

Asparagus with crawfish and shrimp salad followed and then an obscenely rich cream cheese/red pepper shrimp dip with crostini.

Beef medallions ordered medium rare came out well done and just as we finished them, our server arrived with another round of them, these medium rare.

Clearly someone had caught the error, 'cause we hadn't said a thing.

Scallops with pea and lobster risotto got mixed reviews; one hated the green color (and peas) and the other thought it lovely.

Fried green tomato Napoleons with a layer of crabmeat had a corn and pepper relish that was my favorite flavor combination of the evening.

We finished with an array of desserts: chocolate molten lava cake (I know), caramel ice cream and apple crisp a la mode.

The dense, buttery caramel ice cream got the biggest thumbs up from me.

We were on the dessert course before anyone else sat down in the dining room and the absence of humans had made the air conditioning feel excessive, but when I mentioned how cold I was, our affable server made it stop.

By the time we left it was going on 8:00 and the dining room was still filled with light but not yet people.

But it was almost curtain time for the three of us.

Over at Richmond Triangle Players, we got the last three seats together for "8," a play about the suit filed against the state of California for banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The performance, a staged reading, was a benefit for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, so we were also doing good.

The story centered on the closing arguments of the trial, particularly poignant when it dealt with the two women who'd brought suit and had their two sons at the proceedings.

There's really no way to prepare kids to see their parents in a courtroom arguing for the right to be legally married.

Some moments of the script were basic truths, like "Marriage is hard work" and others were laugh out loud funny.

Wait, that one was both.

The reading was short, the actors were strong and the audience receptive to the message, making for a satisfying evening of theater.

After I left the boys, I beat feet to the Camel for the sold-out Jonathan Richman show.

How RVA ended up with the godfather of punk and founder of the Modern Lovers on a Thursday night, I have no idea, but I wasn't missing it, either.

The Camel was packed to the rafters and the room was incredibly hot without air-conditioning.

I'd begun the night shivering and ended it with my dress stuck to my sweaty body.

Even so, I wedged my way up to the second row center, the better to experience this man.

Richman was performing, as he has since 1993, with drummer/percussionist Tommy Larkins and the two were like an old married couple they were so in sync.

After a brief intermission so Richman could go outside and cool off, he did "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar."

Well, in the first bar things were controlled
But in this bar, things were rock and roll.

And they were most definitely rock and roll at the Camel tonight.

The people there were fans: dancing fans, singing fans, cheering fans, all thrilled to have Jonathan Richman so up close and personal.

When there were issues with his guitar mic, he came down off the stage and into the worshipful crowd, strumming his guitar and singing "Santa Lucia."

Allow me to state the obvious. It was frickin' awesome.

I was one person away from him then and could make eye contact as he sang.

What female doesn't want a man to strum his guitar and sing in Italian in her direction?

When he began an extended "Bohemia," he insisted we join in for the chorus and the adoring audience obliged.

"They showed me the door to Bohemia," we sang again and again.

And isn't that a door many of us want to be shown?

Between songs, someone near me lost control of his glass and it crashed to the floor at my feet.

"You okay?" Butterfingers asked.

Looking down at the glass surrounding my sandals, I saw blood on my ankle.

I raised my leg to show him and a nearby artist friend took note.

"It's so Jonathan Richman of you to bleed," he said with admiration in his voice.

When the show ended with a children's song comprised of foreign words of multiple languages sung a capella, the crowd moved outside, gasping for cooler air like fish in a scummy pool.

Outside in the light, I got a few more comments on my blood-stained leg before saying my goodnights.

Sometimes a little blood is the price you pay for having walked through the door to Bohemia.

Fine. I'm completely okay with that.


  1. GREEAAATT blog!!!
    OMG what a life you have discovered!!