Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dinner with Friends

Last night, we met friends for dinner who were visiting from San Francisco. That is, we spent a lot of time trying to meet friends. The rendez vous was arranged for 6:30 at a restaurant called Country on Madison Ave and 29th. The food was great, but I'll get to that later.

We get to the restaurant. It's off the lobby of the Carlton Hotel, but even better is that two really nice guys offered us chocolates on the way in. I mean, not only offered, but literally shoved these classy European squares into our hands. Staving off temptation, I neatly tucked them away in my purse, realizing that I haven't been offered chocolate with this much enthusiasm since I was like six. Even at a recent stay at the Doubletree this winter, I had to practically beg for their famous chocolate chip cookie! We walk into a split level situation - more casual cafe downstairs, fancy dining room upstairs. Both have lounges, bars, etc. We admire the groovy lamps, (pieces of linen enclosed with glass?) and, after checking in with the host, are told to sit on the couch. Our party is apparently not here yet. Being big drinkers, I order a ginger ale and my husband orders an iced tea. Both are delicious - bubbly, frothy, refreshing. We check out the crowd, a mix of singles and harried after- workers. Ten minutes pass, twenty minutes, then half an hour. We don't see our friends, nor the other 8 people we're supposed to be meeting, but then again, we've never met the other 8, so how can we look for them?

My husband springs into action, and immediately calls the couple on their cells phones, describing our exact location like we're on a spy mission. First Bill, and then Amy. "We're here," he says. "We are sitting on the brown leather couch in the foyer, just below the stairway. Please let us know where you are."

"Maybe they got stuck on the train," I offer, remembering they are staying in Westchester.
"Their cell phones would still work," my husband says.
I think I see Amy walking through a side door and into the dining area. She is blond, with fair skin, and has on a flowered blouse and skirt.
"That's her!" I mutter, realizing I am borderline famished by this point.
(The food was really good, I'll get to that later.)
"That's not her," he says, watching the woman as she disappears down the bar. "Amy would never wear floral anyway. She works for Armani."
"So what would she be wearing?"
"I don't know, but not flowers."
A few minutes later, I think I see Bill - a tan youngish man in a button down shirt with black curly hair waltzes through. I nudge my husband.
"Nope," he signals. "Bill would never wear a tie like that."
"Why not?"
"I don't know, he just wouldn't."
"Well, I'm going to take a walk," I announce, feeling adventurous. I polish off my ginger ale and take a walk down the bar, where everyone is wolfing down tasty looking salads, cheese concoctions, beef and vegetable sautees, swirly vertical desserts, etc. No sign of Bill or Amy or people we never met before loking like they are looking for people they never met before.
(The food was really good, I'll get to that later.)

By 8 pm, we're about to give up and go find a table for ourselves before we pass out, or at least score a basket of bread, when another host comes over to us and tells us our friends are upstairs in The Champagne Lounge, like it's old news.
"Really?" we say. "No one told us."
We had gone halfway upstairs at one point, but this was the fancy section with the prix fixe and the live piano player, and why would they be upstairs when we were eating downstairs?
Anyway, upstairs is literally one minute away. We rush up to find Amy and Bill mildly jet-lagged, settled with drinks on a large leather couch similar to the one we were on, along with six other of the people we never would have recognized anyway. The six other people were told to proceed directly to the Champagne Lounge, but we were not!
We relate our story. Everyone seems to feel bad, and then we collectively all head downstairs together at the same time, like a herd of sheep. It's all fine now, we are in the same place at the same time and can finally eat!
An hour later, we order, and four hours later we say our goodbyes.
"I wonder what eating upstairs is like," I say to my husband on the way out.
"It's like downstairs, only harder to find."

The food was really good, I'll get to that in my next blog!

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