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On dining.

June 17, 2009

Lunch in Ireland. +10 points for the view.                   From Eire

Food is one of those things that I have trouble reviewing objectively.

For me, dining is so much more than just items on a plate. It is an experience. Where every last detail matters. On any given night, my scale could go something like this:

+2 points if the light fixtures complement the table.
+10 pts if the background music adds to the evening, -15 if it detracts.
-5 points if there is an intimidating number of forks on the table.
+10 For a helpful, patient waiter. Bonus 10 points if they speak English. Bonus 20 points if they don’t make you feel badly for knowing only English.
+ 2 points for free refills. (+20 for that in Europe…)
-50 points for rude, dismissive and condescending waiters.
– 5 points if there are no carbs on the menu.
+ 5 points if there are several chocolate options.
+1 point for comfortable seats.
+1,000 points if those seats are filled with friends.

All in all, these personal metrics lead me to having a very skewed perception of restaurants. What is a Michelin star meal for one person can rank below the kebab stand around the corner for me.

For example. My favorite dessert of the past few years? Not the Sacher torte in Austria. Nor the special Michael Symon tiramisu at the original Lola’s in Treemont. Not even the Grand Marnier souffle in Paris. No…

My favorite dessert was the chocolate lava cake at Applebees circa 3-ish years ago. It was lovely. Just the right proportion of cake to warm chocolate goo. But it wasn’t the way the pool of hot fudge mingled with the cold vanilla ice cream that earned it the top spot.  It has that distinction because of the circumstances that surrounded its consumption.

Let me set the scene. We were in the corner booth in the Cranberry Applebees. “We” equals Kels, Drew, Audra, Zack, mom, dad and myself. It had been an evening of hilarity. We may have been celebrating something but I can’t be sure. Perhaps a basketball win? All I know is that when dessert came, Kelsey was talking so much that Drew and I, sitting on either side of her, managed to eat 75% of her lava cake – with everyone but her noticing.  When she finally took a breath from whatever ridiculous story she was telling and looked down to find a near empty plate, her face(s) were classic. First confusion then dismay then irritation and, finally, amusement. Everyone just started cracking up. I think I spilled my drink on my pants. Or it squirted out my nose. I have no idea. All I know is that the whole evening was delicious.

And all together worthy of the top dessert spot. At least for me.

See what I mean about objectivity? I simply cannot separate the overall feeling of a dinner from the food that… well.. makes up a dinner.

So. How did the meal on Friday stack up against my exacting and totally biased scale?

Eeeep! Do you know what time it is? I have to go to work. Stay tuned, details to follow in the next post…

girls sushi rock 22 bday

[one of my favorite dinners of all time. @ Sushi Rock in Cleveland for my 22nd bday. +5 points for the sushi, +2 points for restaurant design, +1500 for the company. 🙂 )

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