Thursday, January 12, 2017

Let's Go in the Talking Room

The time to make up your mind about people is never.

The time to make plans to see one of the pithiest romantic comedies of the past 75 years - and make reservations at Spoonbread - was weeks ago. Pru and Beau collected me shortly before sunset and we navigated around VCU because of tonight's basketball game, of which we were all completely unaware.

We landed upstairs at Spoonbread this visit, sipping Left Coast Pinot Noir and eating ourselves into a stupor with the aid of an affable server who lavished attention on us, including crawling under the table to wedge folded paper to stop the table from doing the see-saw.

Talk about clever, an amuse bouche of especially decadent pimento cheese rested in an edible cracker spoon with swipes of spinach aoili and tomato fondue for dipping. "If we used edible spoons all the time, we'd never have to wash silverware again," Pru noted with delight.

I got to hear about one of Beau's Christmas presents to Pru, a laser-cut listing of all the rules of the house (hers, that is), all of which he's gradually learned over the course of the relationship, stipulations such as "don't bring up a topic unless you can go deep on it." True enough.

The most succinct: "Mix wit, sarcasm and profanity. Shake well." This is one of those house rules that follows us wherever we go, so it's actually more of a lifestyle rule, just as applicable in situations far from home.

Meanwhile, the menu had fresh appeal. Not going to lie, this frequent diner was terribly impressed to see changes and tweaks to the fish and seafood-heavy menu since we were last there in November.

Much like then, every dish succeeded splendidly tonight, not just in execution but in sheer over-the-top largesse, whether it was the killer South-meets-Asian pork sriracha collard green rolls (more, please!), a repeat from last visit of the completely obscene foie gras over spoonbread or tonight's special, bouillabaisse with an Old Bay broth.

I could have mainlined that broth, so of the Bay it tasted.

While originally billed as having John Dory along with shrimp, lobster and mussels, our server was mistaken, but since the kitchen made up for the missing Dory with a lobster tail and rockfish, no one was complaining, although even with Beau's help, I couldn't finish the bowl.

Now, the chocolate mousse tart, that I managed to polish off while the happy couple downed caffeine and our server belatedly showed up to advise us of the after-dinner offerings - Sauternes, Madeira, Port, Chartreuse, Fernet - which spawned a discussion about places to go after a film or play for drinks and discussion.

While they have some fine late night choices, Spoonbread only stays open till 10 during the week and 11 on weekends, which might not be late enough to really dig deep, depending on the subject matter. Nevertheless, we added them to our list of possibilities for the future

At the Byrd Theater for "The Philadelphia Story," I found us seats in my favorite row (no visible springs in the seat), immediately spotted two women passing a silver flask back and forth two rows back and heard my name called by a theater critic in the row right behind me.

Turns out his girlfriend had never seen "The Philadelphia Story" while her friend considers it her favorite movie. The minute Pru sat down, I introduced the two of them, since it's also her favorite film. Naturally, a film discussion group sprung up immediately, with Beau doing his best to listen in and grin.

In short order, we discussed the gender issues of "The Apartment," Jack Lemmon's limitations as a dramatic actor and why "High Society" should never have been made. My contribution was telling everyone about the upcoming Fascist mini-film fest at the Bijou, two can't miss weekends for film and democracy fans.

The course of true love...
Gathers no moss.

While Pru can recite the script along with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, it had been a couple of years since I'd seen the classic comedy of remarriage from 1940 with its non-stop wittily romantic script and the added bonus for me of a 32-year old James Stewart, lanky, full of attitude and, as usual, achingly sincere (no one says "doggone" like he does).

Whiskey is a slap on the back and champagne's heavy mist before my eyes.

Besides, I have to love a film showing a party where the band is still playing while people are still dancing and talking and it's 4 a.m. Can I go to parties like that, please?

You have unsuspected depth!

Knowing we'd want to end the evening on a conversational note, I'd made sure to have wine in the house and a fresh stack of newly-acquired records for the turntable in case we opted for here over a more public gathering spot.

We did and while the two of them prefer '70s (Roberta Flack, Art Garfuckel, CSNY) over '80s, I slid in both because the pithy dissection of male and female behavior, traditional gender roles versus expanded and Beau's passionate prosecution of marriage meant that half the time they were arguing their points, not paying attention to the music.

Except when Gladys Knight and the Pips came on, at which time Pru was visibly dancing in her chair.

Nearly three hours into our conversational soiree, Beau reminded us it was a school night for him and we wound down our closing topics, making up our minds about absolutely no one.

As is to be hoped, nothing had been brought up that hadn't been examined in great depth using wit, sarcasm and profanity. That's just how we do.

Oh, dear, is there no such thing as privacy anymore?
Only in bed, Mother, and not always there.

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