Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Dogs in a Day: Don't Judge

I had my second hot dog meal of the day, so I know I'm going to hell in a purple basket, to quote Julian Casablancas of the Strokes.

A friend was just back from two weeks of business travel and insisted we meet at Bistro Bobette for wining, dining and storytelling. Bartender Olivier greeted us with, "Getting an early start tonight, ladies?" It was 6:30.

We lucked into it being a night with live accordion music and had the pleasure of several regulars' company (one of whom said, "After we talked last time, I went and looked up your writing. I like your style!"). A restaurant owner and his love came in for a romantic dinner date.

We started with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc while discussing the new BYOB law with Olivier; it's the source of much restaurant discussion these days. Just how much is an appropriate corkage fee?

The spring menu was out so I ordered the new pink shrimp, avocado, mixed greens and brandied tomato tarragon ailoi salad, betting that it would be a winner.

The greens were a minor part of this outstanding combination bound together with aioli. Big chunks of ripe avocado and pieces of shrimp clung together in the deep sundae dish it was served in. It tasted more decadent than it probably was, a rare combination.

My friend was telling me about the tasting menu she'd recently had in Baltimore, which began with caviar topped cranberry sorbet atop oysters on the half shell, moved through seared foie gras and on to kangaroo steak.

This is a person who won't eat lamb, so the tasting menu had exposed her to all kinds of new foods. I made sure to give her an especially hard time for finally putting on her adventurous eating suit after gasping at so many of my choices when we're out (sugar toads? eww! wild boar? yuck! sweetbreads? never!)

But for dinner I chose a relatively old food, Bob's Dog, the bistro's house made hot dog with harissa mustard and Gruyere on a baguette with a mound of frites.

Sure, I'd had a chili dog for lunch, but there really is no comparison between a regular dog and the Bobette dog, so I didn't feel the least bit redundant or guilty.

Yet another regular came in and joined a woman at the bar. We were intrigued when we overheard her tell him, "I'm so good at my job it's scary."

My friend and I agreed that we now had to know what she did (art dealer) and why she was feeling so full of herself (scored a large-format Sally Mann photograph for a client for $4,000 less than it was listed).

She introduced the regular as her "boy toy." He demurred. "Except I haven't been a boy in a while," he said sheepishly, but with a certain amount of male pride; it was pretty cute.

That exchange apparently prompted him to send us drinks to match his, made with Guatemalan Ron Zacapa rum, creme de gingembre, 151, orange juice and maraschino cherry liqueur. Fortunately, our moms hadn't told us not to take drinks from strangers.

Crepes filled with whipped cream and chocolate required more wine and more interesting details of our unfolding personal lives, but since the chef and the accordion player were still eating dinner at the bar, we knew there was no rush to finish up. So we continued to dish men and drink wine.

A DJ friend recently sent me a video of Ann-Margaret and the Bay City Rollers singing "Saturday Night" in front of an audience of old people (one woman actually had an ear horn; no kidding, in 1977 even?) with a note saying, "I imagine this is what heaven looks like."

Just further proof that I'm at peace with going to hell in that purple basket.


  1. cant wait to see all the discontent that the BYOB policy will bring about in this town. in my opinion all I can say is, its about time VA got with the times. I think it can be a great tool for establishments to use to their advantage if theyre smart about it. just wait for the first time someone is charged $35 corkage fee!

  2. Rob, You are so right! It'll be interesting to see who jumps on board.