Friday, July 26, 2013

Cloud Song for Bivalves

Today had to be the most exquisite weather Richmond has ever presented us with on July 25th.

So naturally my first thought was to go someplace else.

With a willing companion, we headed east to Merroir and a leisurely meal by the riverside.

Yesterday, Merroir had posted a picture of the view with an impressive looking water spout straight out from the dock.

We didn't require a water spout, just sustenance, libations and a scenic place for sustained conversation.

My first stop on arriving was necessarily the ladies' room and as I made my way there, a large party began greeting me, calling "hello" and "glad you're here" as if they knew me.

When I inquired if they were the welcome committee, they answered in the affirmative.

Turns out they were actually celebrating a birthday and doing so with lots of alcohol, making for a noisy, garrulous group for several hours to come.

Not that it mattered to us because we knew we were going to outlast them.

I have a long-standing record of closing down places even when I don't have good company, so I felt pretty sure they'd cave long before we did.

An unexpectedly beautiful Thursday afternoon at the river surely merits bubbles, so we began with Gruet Brut under a sky packed with clouds and promising spots of blue.

Our server, Ford (short for [and much cooler-sounding than] Clifford, a family name), was ever-present, checking in frequently to see if we were ready to order.

With a view of masts bobbing at the marina, the tempestuous-looking sky and a continuing stream of new arrivals, it seemed a shame to hurry.

I just don't have any trouble making the shift to river time.

But you can only send a nice boy away so many times before agreeing to order oysters to give him something to do.

We tucked into buttery Rappahannocks, mildly salty Stingrays and killer Old Salts, while discussing the difficulty (at least for me) of ordering only one type rather than a variety of all three.

I say why limit yourself when you can savor the fruits of three different parts of the river?

Others might say I'm just greedy.

The party table continued their greeting of every new arrival, pretty much drowning out the very '90s music emanating from the porch, not necessarily a bad thing when a decades-old Counting Crows or Third Eye Blind song is playing.

With bubbly and oysters behind us, we moved on to the next course.

Young Ford looked relieved.

Pan-seared scallops with crab slaw, Prospect Farms beef sliders with roasted garlic and herb aioli and the signature crabcake accompanied a bottle of Cave de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet, a lovely, acidic default to go with our seafood.

And may I just say what a good idea putting crab into slaw is?

Of course, with my Maryland roots, I probably wouldn't object to putting crab in much of anything savory.

One of the evening's specials was a flat bread "pizza" of butter-poached oysters, bacon, spinach and Parmesan on flat bread, which we'd both seen on Facebook earlier and discussed on the drive down.

But with our lackadaisical ways, by the time we got around to asking for it, we barely made it in time.

Ford put our order in, returning with a grin to inform us we'd gotten the last one.

Well, that was close.

Munching on the coveted final special, we discussed our next move.

Since my last visit to Merroir in late April, they'd greatly enhanced their little piece of riverside heaven.

Besides fancier picnic tables and more metal table and chair sets, there's now a landscaped area down by the dock.

Merroir, we hardly know ye.

Crushed oyster shells defined paths for Adirondack chairs and other seating so that the dock was no longer the only option for sitting.

Not that there's anything wrong with dock-sitting.

We'd already seen the birthday boy from the loud table head down there with a bottle of wine, so why not us?

After informing Ford of our intentions, he informed us that he'd have to be the one to carry our wine to the dock for us.

You just never know when the Virginia ABC will rear its useless head.

Pulling two big chairs side by side, we settled in to enjoy more Languedoc loveliness mere feet from the rippling water.

Uranus was the first arrival in the night sky but we sat there long enough to watch others join it overhead.

Call me old school (or worse), but eventually the big Adirondacks lost their appeal and we moved down to the end of the dock to hang our feet off the edge and admire the fuzzy lights across the river.

Being severely directionally-challenged, I had no idea from where they emanated and even my navigationally-savvy companion could only hazard a guess.

Irvington? White Stone? Smoldering meteorite?

But when you're sitting on a dock drinking wine and listening to fish jump, who really cares what's on the other side?

And just for the record, we did outlast everyone except the staff, who were politely waiting on the porch railings when we finally made our way back.

Say goodnight, Ford.

1 comment: