There is a smell - a sense, really - of wet summer nights that is quite unlike anything else.
It wasn't present when I walked home from Dinamo after a fine dinner with a birthday celebrant set to - wait for it: Christopher Cross' so-called masterpiece "Ride Like the Wind" not once but twice consecutively - nor was it in sight when I headed to Saison by myself for tonight's late night brunch with chef Mike Braune.
But, man, by the time I killed my cocktail and bade farewell to the familiar faces at Saison, cars were wet, streets were slick and the air was heavy with dampness. It was enough to make me wish I was at the beach.
As if I don't often wish that.
I slid into one of the few open bar stools, conveniently near a familiar musician and his date, to see what was going on with tonight's late night brunch, ordering Another Sunrise to keep me occupied. The cocktail of vida, Espolon Blanco, orange juice, lime, Grenadine and (I kid you not) Hellfire bitters fit the bill nicely for jumping into the lively room.
I chatted with the J-Ward restaurant owners out for a post-shift meal (but of course he wanted a shot and a beer) about their impending closing and renovation plans, with the blond bartender who thought I looked vaguely familiar but mostly admired my sass, with another bartender reveling in her new gig and with the wine rep I've known for ages.
He's become my go-to for where to eat in Norfolk/Virginia Beach now that it's one of my regular destinations.
Off the chain food-wise was the fat foie gras and chocolate chip deep dish pancake, especially after a slather of vanilla butter and a dunk in smoked maple syrup (which, I won't lie, tasted a lot like licking the interior of a chimney) before landing in my mouth.
Almost as good was lamb and avocado Benedict with za'atar Hollandaise, an obscenely rich offering considering it was midnight.
Helping the cause was great conversation about the development of the scene, beer versus door prices at shows and why some of us prefer to be renters rather than homeowners given our lifestyles. We might have even touched on my questionable introduction to tequila.
Somehow, by the time I emerged several hours later, rain drops covered windshields, streets emanated steam and there was the satisfying smell of wet pavement in the air. Late summer, ahhhh....
I was only sorry I'd been so busy blathering with friends that I hadn't seen it happen.
Hellfire, those were some powerful pancakes.