Of Friendship and DinnerMy friend Adam is wonderful for more reasons than I can count. When I told him that I was moving, he not only offered to help, he insisted upon it. "I'm great at moving," he said. "You absolutely must let me help."
Considering the fact that 1) I'm NOT great at moving, and 2) Adam has an SUV, how could I refuse?! And so it was that we ferried countless bags and boxes across the Golden Gate Bridge in his aforementioned vehicle, which seemed to mysteriously expand each time to hold far more than I expected.
One afternoon, hot and exhausted from the loading and unloading, we went on a mission to find some food in downtown Novato. It was about 4:30, and we were famished. We walked up and down Grant Avenue, past antique stores and coffee shops, hoping to find something interesting. Keep in mind that Adam and I are both in the restaurant biz, and both of us are OCD about food. One of my greatest worries about living here is the apparent dearth of good restaurants.
And then: we spotted a little place that looked promising. The word "Kitchen" was scrolled across the front in red letters, and the menu, posted outside, looked like something one might find in my old 'hood in the City. *sniff*
Alas, it wasn't open until 5:00, and so we decided to get a beer while we waited. Across the street and up one block, we found a bar with darkened windows and an unlit neon sign. "Go on in," drawled the man smoking on the front step. "It's allll-right."
We took deep breaths and stepped inside, darting worried glances at each other, as the smell of old beer assaulted our nostrils. Be brave, I mouthed to Adam. We each grabbed a stool and waited for our eyes to adjust to the dim light. On tap: Budweiser and Bud Lite. When Adam ordered a Guinness from the girl behind the counter, she looked confused. "It's my first day," she explained. He pointed to the cooler, where beer in bottles hung out. I chose an Anchor Steam.
To our left, a threesome was playing dice. Every few seconds, a terrifying cracking sound announced the slam of the dice cup against the wooden bar top. The stools to our right remained empty until two men strolled in and sat down. One ordered a Kahlua and cream. The bartender looked dismayed. "There, honey," the man coached, pointing at the display of liquor bottles behind the counter. "Over one and down. That's right. Now pour some of that into a glass with ice and add some cream." She looked relieved.
We gulped, rather than sipped, and were delighted to exit back into the natural light once again.
We strolled into Kitchen at 5:02pm. We were a pathetic sight: crumpled and limp, our skin coated with moving grime. I could tell that the nice man who approached us felt a bit apprehensive. He might have pegged us for the type who sit down and whine to each other about the prices and leave. "Time to show him that we know a thing or two," I whispered to Adam. And so we deliberated over the wine list, secretly gratified to see his expression change ever-so-slightly when we chose a nice bottle.
Disclaimer: given the fact that it has been a couple of weeks since this meal, during which time my head has been abuzz with moving boxes and organizational systems, my descriptions will be far more vague than is my custom.
We began with an appetizer of warm almost-melted cheese - a type of brie? perhaps a camenbert? - I don't remember exactly. It was warm, it was soft, it was delicious. There were some nice olives with it. I felt myself start to relax.
A spring risotto was next, a palette of white studded with the vibrant green of freshly shelled peas. The rice grains were soft and tender; unlike heavier risottos that are rich and creamy, this one was brothy and light.
We shared a pork chop entree. I'm not a huge fan of pork for the reason that good pork - raised by Niman Ranch, for instance - is generally so lean that it tastes dry and muscle-y. While Adam polished it off, I attended to the enormous pile of crispy-fried onions that we had ordered as a side. Mmmm. For desert, we clashed our spoons into a butterscotch pot-de-creme. It was just enough; light and caramel-y, not overly sweet. We walked out pleasantly sated, with enough energy to remove the rest of the boxes out of the vehicle.
A few days later, I did some browsing online and found that Kitchen got a review from Michael Bauer! Who knew that his royal highness would venture up here to dine and dish?!
Now I have hope. A thin strand at best, but better than none at all.