Friday, October 12, 2007

Blind Date and Cucumber Cafe


Kampei! Well, I'm home at 8:45pm after my first blind date. I was off work early again, which I can't really afford to do anymore, but in this case it was probably a good idea. I went home and changed what I was wearing, as I had decided late last night after trying on numerous casual outfits. I messengered him saying we can meet earlier since we need to have dinner by 8pm according to the invites. He told me that 5:30pm would be good, so I ventured out by foot to the Broadway and Laurel Earl's and got there a half hour early. No problem because I'm always early and I could read my Bourdain book while having a beer.

A half hour passed and he walked in. Recognized me right away and sat down. We shared small talk and it seemed he was a bit uncomfortable but the conversation was good. Hard to hear because of the loud bar at Earl's, with the hockey game crowd coming in to watch the game. The banter was not what I expected as it was on the phone, friendly though and not bad. After a couple of beers, we hopped in his "burple" truck, Barney, and he drove by the hospital where he showed off his handy work where he had spent a good portion of his past 10 years, building the new buildings. After a long drive out to Richmond, and stories of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, we finally pulled up to the Cucumber Cafe.

Now he invited me because he wanted to meet me and also because of my restaurant background. I guess he thought it would be interesting as I scrutinized the newest Gilardi creation that he had worked on for quite awhile. We were greeted by our server with Mimosas (I'm absolutely sure there was no champagne in them) and some information about the restaurant happenings of the evening. The lighting in the dining area was shockingly bright for a restaurant, similar to Denny's times 100! Whether it was to show off the decor or the food was questionable but certainly not restaurant dining. The manager then appeared and we had to pull our selection of entree out of a basket. We didn't get a choice from the actual menu which was on the table to peruse. No alcohol was being served either, just coffee, tea, pop or juice. I chose a breakfast item, and secretly giggled to myself as I know cooks hate slinging out breakfast after dark---Crepes Lorraine. He chose an Italian Panini. While we waited and told more stories, giggling about the lighting, orange micro-suede booths and gaudy wallpaper, the server came by with a plate of freshly in-house baked muffins with Butter...a very important focal point of the letter left on each table, as if other places serve margarine. Why highlight the butter when the muffins were the important part?

Our entrees appeared, they were mediocre and nothing special. We ate without any enthusiasm for the chef, while I studied the menu for any ideas for my own work. We both wondered why the Gilardi Group would make a restaurant chain with this concept as there was nothing to do with cucumbers and the focus was Denny's food without the "Gran Slam" in-your-face trademark. It was as if they were attempting to make Denny's into Cactus club or Earl's without the decor and atmosphere of a fun party. Overall, the experience was disappointing as the lights seem to get brighter by the minute.

He drove me all the way home, very nice of him, since driving in and out of the city is quite chore on any night never mind Friday. As we drove up to my apartment he patted me on the back of my head and told me not to work too hard. He was sorry but he was tired from work. I felt no really physical attraction to him but a nice man none the less. I will go out again with him, if he asks to seem me again, and hopefully the banter will pick-up like our fun phone conversation the other night.

Was I a bit disappointed? Perhaps, but hey, ...

You cant hurry love No, you just have to wait She said love dont come easy Its a game of give and take You cant hurry love No, you just have to wait You got to trust, give it time No matter how long it takes

Now I am home sipping sake and smokin' a cigarette. Lookin' to go out to my "livingroom" to have some real fun....:)

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