Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fine Dining

Bet you're expecting something about grilled cheese sandwiches and spilled milk. Wrong! This is the Real Deal. A caregiver friend had been given a $125 gift certificate last Christmas to a local very nice local restaurant. She had long decided that the best person to share her largesse was a woman who would fully understand just how very much it had been earned, and who needed the taste of civilization as desperately. So off we went to Beckta. Click the link, click it right now!! ..... .... There. Wasn't that lovely? Don't you feel calmed and relaxed? Did you see that bottom picture, the one with the vase lit from underneath? See that table just behind it? That was our table. We were seated - servers pulled out the chair and pushed it back under you! But we are careful not to look too delighted by this, as this would prove us to be unsophisticated, which we are not. Actually, we dress up pretty nicely. She was wearing very cool maroon pants decorated in an indian pattern of stitchery and some glittery bits, and an understatedly sexy black blouse. I was in a curve-hugging brown nicely scoop-neck dress under a watered silk blazer just about the same length as the dress: shortish. Heels for both of us: brown boots for her, black suede shoes for me. We're a nicely balanced pair: she's as blond as I am brunette; she's as willow-thin as I am curvy; I go for dark lipstick, she's a pastel girl. And she's my very best friend. We share a sushi appetizer, which was amazing. And which we both ate with chopsticks, because we are Sophisticated. My friend very sophisticatedly smeared a liberal layer of wasabi all over her first piece, and then spent five minutes removing her eye-liner from her streaming eyes with the thick white linen napkin provided for just such an eventuality. Very sophisticated. She had the BC Halibut, "just for the halibut" she says, a very classy joke, suitable for such a high-toned establishment. I had the chowder. (Read the menu!! You can be there, too!) The chowder came in sections! The server placed an assortment of seafood and delicately sliced spring potatoes artfully arranged in a wide shallow bowl in front of me. The he left. Hmmm... maybe in truly high-class places, chowder isn't soup? And then he returned! Bearing a large stainless teapot affair in which was the broth for my soup! Coconut based broth. Ummmmm.... And she ate with her fork in her left and knife in her right, and I tipped my bowl away and scooped my soup away from me, and sipped delicately from the side of the spoon. See our good manners and natural elegance? Dessert: creme brulee for me, tiramisu for her. Melt in your mouth goodness. The coffee was too strong for my taste, but I am a coffee wuss, I admit it. It did balance the sweetness of the creme brulee very nicely. And neither of us licked our plates. Which was a shame, really. These are the sacrifices one make for elegance. Not the complete lack of any mention of alcohol. She did have a glass of wine; I stuck to tonic water. Not because I feared the demon alcohol would summon up my inner table dancer, but because we were making sure our gift certificate lasted the whole meal. She got the wine because this meal out was her Christmas present - but don't tell her that: She thinks it's because my trick stomach was acting up. I am such a good friend! Oh, and did I mention the "gifts from the kitchen"? Before we'd ordered, two little espresso-size cups of squash bisque with provolone cheese were placed in front of us, on their signature plain white, square plates. Oh, but it was good. After dinner, two teeny pieces of fudge and a couple of "ben-somethingfrenchsounding"s, which turned out to be teeny-weeny deepfried pastry balls. An awful lot like quarter-sized Timbits, truth be known, with a crustier outside and way more sugar. Truly sophisticated people don't know what a Timbit is, but we didn't say the word out loud in the restaurant, so I don't think we blew our cover. Everyone knows "ben-somethingfrenchish" is much more Sophisticated than "teeny timbits". We sat and we talked, we savoured, three hours flew by. And the bill? $124.32 Man, are we good: 68 cents to spare! A gorgeous meal for the price of a tip. (Generous - we are too unsophisticated, I confess, to take this kind of "dining experience" for granted) If that blew our cover, too bad. Now I'm off to write my friend's clients a thank-you note!

16 Comments:

Blogger Anon said...

It sounds nice, but does it measure up to the "Nandos Experience" (http://www.nandos.co.uk/). Granted it sounds a little more sophisticated though :-)

11/16/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger LoryKC said...

Sounds perfectly lovely!

11/16/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Anon said...

ooh, "Mariposa Farm Raised Duck Breast" sounds nice, now I feel extra hungry and its >2 hrs till dinner :-(

11/16/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

Dear Lord! I was wondering how the $125 was going to be used up between two people. You both did so well. No mention of calculators under the table, huh?

I have a friend in Japan that says she goes out to eat almost every night and the bill is always around $100. So this is how they eat...

11/16/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

Remember, everything's a third off in Canada. I had a long period, a few years ago, here at work where I was in Toronto at least every other week for about three months and that was the advice on understanding the exchange rate. Assume everything is a third off.

11/16/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger ~Lil Nance ;> said...

Sounds wonderful! I love the part about your "inner table dancer"... gotta watch out for that!! Hehehehe!!

Nothin but class honey!!

11/16/2005 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger aaron said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think you're as sophisticated as you think you are -- surely sophisticated people would use sophisticated/unsophisticated more than seven times in a description of a meal.

Mmmm sushi!

Simon -- check out the exchange rate these days, and you'll see it's nearly 84 cents on the dollar. Canada's not quite the bargain for Americans that it used to be.

11/16/2005 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

Can I just say---I *heart* Timbits!

I know that makes me un-sophisticated but that's ok.

We're all friends here right?

It's good to know you ladies get to splurge once in a while and not have to dine on Mac 'n Cheese all the time. Good for you girls!

11/16/2005 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Si: Mine is more sophisticated. But that place has a fabulous website! I'd go check them out for no other reason than that. But not this weekend, I think...

Crayonz: Japan is expensive, but if your friends are eating out like that every night, it couldn't be expensive relative to their income. There is no flippin' way I could do that every night!!

There are places more expensive than this one, I know, but when I take my family of FOUR out, the bill is usually half that. And I couldn't afford to do that every night. This was a treat of treats.

Simon: Er, Simon? It's *cough* not "a third off" if you're paid in Canadian dollars.

Nancy: My interior landscape is well populated, and I give pretty near all of them an airing from time to time. But yesterday evening was NOT her time!

Aaron: No? I could've tried harder, you're saying? Didn't quite pull it off? Well, poop.

But I looked damned fine, if I do say so myself!

And I still remember the time (it probably lasted about ten days) where the Canadian dollar was worth $1.03 US. Heady times.

Kimmyk: Psst. (Looks furtively about her.) Sour cream, unglazed, my absolute favourite.

11/16/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Amuse bouche and beignets.

The amuse bouche is often my favorite part of the Fancy Dinner, as you never know what you're going to get, and it's the chef's opportunity to "show off".

And were they teeny tiny beignets (I don't know if this is the French pronounciation, but in New Orleans they say "ben-yay")?

11/16/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

It sounds lovely, and a really good night out.

I'm still living off my evening out a few weeks back (although it was only with Mr A), but my birthday meal is coming up this weekend at the same restuarant. Yum.

That's a really good price for a nice restuarant meal in a city compared to here. I'd expect to pay £200 minimum in Bristol or bath and probably anywhere up to £400 in London for similar quality!

Of course, out here in the sticks we can do it for about £50 without alcohol, but that's still more than you paid! Uk food prices are horrendous!

11/16/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

True, but I am paid in US dollars, so for me it was a third off.

The fanciest dining that I experienced in Toronto was when IBM bought me dinner at the 360 restaurant at the top of the CN Tower. I don't know what the final cost was, but I figured that I was into triple digits by the end of it, for my contribution to the final bill. So, given that I don't drink alchohol and there's only so much they can charge for my after dinner large expresso, I'd say that was on the expensive side.

11/16/2005 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Misfit: "Amuse bouche". What a great expression! I wonder why he didn't use it? Ottawa has enough of a French presence to get away with using French expressions - particularly in nice restaurants.

I thought the word I heard for the little pastry balls had three syllables, but now I think you must be right: beignet is pronounced much as you indicate, and would certainly describe the teeny "beigne" folded into the napkin.

MrsA: "Only" with Mr A - for shame! You're speaking to a woman whose first husband was loathe to take me out to McDonald's. (I've traded up.) :-)

I honestly don't know how people can afford the prices you cite. There must be huge numbers of people who simply never go to those places. Of course there are - I should know, I'm one of those teeming masses of culinarily deprived! Astonishing.

Simon: I lived in Toronto for ten years and never once went up there. Not because of the price, but because I am a) claustrophobic, and b) afraid of heights. So the thought of shooting up a million miles in a glass elevator held no appeal to me whatsoever.

11/16/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger McSwain said...

Sounds like a smashing evening. I was spoiled with this kind of eating back when I worked for Wolfgang Puck, but never, never would take it for granted. It's dining, art, & entertainment all wrapped up in one package.

11/17/2005 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

The vast majority of the British public never went to restuarants until about 10/15 years ago when prices fell slightly & wages rose, and a whole batch of "cheaper" eating out experiences were invented.

Now most people will manage an occasional trip to a Harvester/TGI's etc, but real restuarants are still beyond the masses except for very special occasions - or if you live in the sticks:-)

11/17/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

What a wonderful time! The last time I had dinner with my best friend, we went to a Japanese restaurant where you sat around the grill. The chef mistook me for SoNotMartha's MOTHER (we are 3 years apart). This was even before kids.

P.S. I would kill for a Timbit right now!

11/18/2005 09:54:00 AM  

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