Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reflections After Karen

From the ocean to the mountains in a matter of hours.

I may have had to leave the beach, but I had a good time awaiting me at home.

Well, not immediately, since I needed to scrape the layers of beach gunk off my body and hair, but once cleaned up, I had a date to go to Charlottesville for dinner and a show.

If I'm going to give up surf and sand, that's the way to do it.

A few weeks ago I'd seen that the Clientele was playing the Southern and been intrigued by both their sound (reverb-drenched, art and literature-based lyrics) and their story (formed in '97, broke up in '11, back together because Merge re-released their debut album).

I'd invited a date to join me, bought tickets and been looking forward to it ever since.

After failure to find a park (don't ask), we wound up at the C & O for dinner, only to be informed that it was restaurant week. Not our first choice, but not disastrous, either.

To get things started well, we had flutes of Virginia Fizz in the downstairs bar (with the rustically uneven wooden bar surface) where couples were already eating the three-course menu.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

In a fine display of date cooperation while drinking Rose, we would each eat half of what was on our plates and then swap so as to taste two dishes for each course.

That's how marinated heirloom tomatoes with mesclun and pesto complemented by the creamiest burrata atop creamed corn was traded for beef sirloin carpaccio with truffle aioli, arugula and hashed potatoes.

Roasted halibut with ciopinno sauce, saffron rouille and summer herbs got switched with pork saltimbocca with sage and Fontina over a summer panzanella salad.

There was less sharing when dessert came, probably because I scarfed my chocolate gateaux with salted caramel and frozen peanut nougat while he lingered over his cheese plate.

My appetite has been called many things, but seldom ladylike.

Walking out of the restaurant, as if on cue, fat raindrops began falling so we ducked into an alcove to stay dry. After waiting for about ten minutes for the driving rain to stop, we wised up and went inside what turned out to be the Melting Pot.

Since it only made sense to drink something once we sat down at the bar, we did, killing time until the rain stopped and we could make it to the show.

We'd missed part of Borrowed Beams of Light's opening set, but caught enough to hear a definite '70s influence.

Then it was the Clientele, taking the stage in that low-key British way to play music, including a lot of songs from that first album - really a compilation of singles - that's now being celebrated with Merge Records' reissue of it.

The songs are gorgeous (I'd been listening to it all the way to and from the beach) in that smart, yet melancholy way where you love the sound but if you listen closely, it's a tad sad. And very smart.

I don't know about the rest of the room, but I know I was happy when they played "Reflections After Jane," an ode to a woman loved and lost.

Actually, I was happy with the entire evening. It had been a long day, for sure, and driving back from the beach only to hit the road for the mountains may have been a bit ambitious (my date generously let me sleep on the way back), but I had such a terrific time anyway.

Dare I say it? I'm happy to be back.

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