The last 48 hours have, at times, sped by and, at others, crawled along. No great newsflash there; it just seems like time sort of evaporates when my other half and I are together, and the antithesis thereof when we're not. I'm guessing that's a good sign ;-)
Wednesday night was to be a special night; Kaia arranged a special surprise. She wouldn't tell me where we were going, only that we were going someplace where I could go in slacks or jeans, no jacket, and that we'd have fun.
We headed back to the apartment by cab and she was refusing to tell me where we were headed (even after I threatened her with BedShark -- it's a long story), so we both showered and dressed quickly, and were out the door and in a cab, when the suprise -- when she told the driver where we were headed -- was finally revealed.
We pulled up to 72nd Street at Central Park and began walking for about five minutes when we came upon the surprise location: the Central Park Boathouse. The restaurant is situated within the park, so we had no trouble walking the five or so minutes, and it was really a great surprise, because each time we passed it on the to or from the apartment, I kept telling Kaia I wanted to take her there. I had no idea she'd made the reservations prior to my confession thereof, so it was no surprise -- and typical for us -- that we both really wanted to bring the other to this place.
The quick description of the restaurant is, essentially, old Adirondack decor mixed with a touch of New England. Essentially, the highlight of the locale is its on-the-water expansive view of the inside of the Park itself. And on top of that, the restaurant features gondola rides before and/or after dinner. We didn't partake because we were both dressed a bit more formally than the 80-degree weather would have dictated, so we opted not to hit the water. But we each sipped an ice-cold Grey Goose Orange and Tonic prior to dinner, then sat at our table right on the water.
It was really a pretty setting; I don't know how many times I thanked my other half for thinking of this (ie surprising me like she did), but I hope I did so to sufficiently communicate to her how nice it was.
Dinner itself -- ie the food -- was only so-so. We started with crabcakes and tuna tartare, the former very good and the latter tasty but not quite cold enough. To follow, she had grilled chicken and I had monkfish and salmon roe. Unfortunately, when they brought our dishes, her chicken appeared almost pink, and as our waiter served it, it seemed to have a salmony odor. After confirming it was indeed chicken (despite its color), it turns out the scent of salmon was coming from the salmon roe paired with the monkfish. Quite understandable, except I don't recall ever having a dish where salmon roe were served where they emitted an odor.
They placed my dish in front of me and we did a quick look-see to see if everything was okay. Her chicken, it turned out, seemed to be prepared properly -- but not grilled. It looked, smelled -- and most importantly, tasted -- like it had been poached. So neither of us was too thrilled with her dish. On to the monkfish; I've had monkfish a bunch of times, so I was expecting something that was a bit chewy like lobster with some softness and little, if any, "fish" taste. The monkfish, however, tasted more like cubed trout than monkfish. It was a bit fishy and not very properly prepared. So neither of us were too thrilled with the eats. The other thing that wasn't too wonderful was our waiter: he seemed to be gifted with the personality of a doorknob. But the one saving grace, other than us enjoying one another's company, was -- after dinner -- we peered over the side of the railing into the water itself and saw two baby turtles swimming along, bobbing with the slight current. We took a couple pictures and were just watching them when Kaia, out loud, said "I wonder where their mommy is." Almost on cue, a large brown head popped up slowly from the water and mommy turtle -- who was about three and a half feet long -- appeared. I instinctively reached behind me to our table to grab some bread to feed them, but our waiter -- who really should consider a career change -- managed, in his one solid move all night, to clear the table before we were completely finished with dinner. Thanks, garcon.
We spent a lot of time laughing and decided the next time we visit the Boathouse we'll just do drinks. Even if the food was less than stellar, we had too nice a night to be disappointed by the food. Finally, after we left, we were making our way back to 72nd Street and the park's exit when we heard a huge boom and turned to see a flash of sparks overhead. It turns out we forgot -- and quickly remembered -- there were fireworks in honor of the concert in the park that night. So she whipped out her cellphone and I whipped out my Nikon and between the two of us we took about twenty pictures. So it was a really wonderful night, despite the food. Fireworks and sea life and the one you love: what could be more romantical? ;-)
By the time Thursday morning rolled around, we were both so tired that we were late getting to our respective offices. On top of that, we made plans with a couple of friends to hit Acme, a bar & grill downtown that features rockin' New Orleans cuisine. Unlike their motto "An Okay Place to Eat," we really enjoyed it. Our friends arrived prior to us -- not unusual, given our proclivity for being ten to fifteen minutes late (especially due to a smashed-up Saab and another indescribable accident we saw on the way), and they were enjoying the A/C and some cold drinks when we came in. It's a homey, smallish kind of place, but it was a lot of fun. We ordered and enjoyed some cornbread. My one and only alcoholic drink was a frozen watermelon martini, and though no one at the table chided me at all, I couldn't care less that it was pink. I just wanted something cold, sweet and tasty, and it arrived quickly. The food, incidentally, arrived not long thereafter; shrimp platters, chicken and my dinner (seafood jumbalaya) were all solid and tasty. By the time exited -- sans dessert -- we were all stuffed and happy campers. The only negative -- if there was one -- was that the bar was so loaded with people that the entire restaurant was loud, to the point where we had to shout at each other in order to have a conversation. I'm not sure if it was the Thursday night-before-Friday-out-of-town crowd or what, but the noise was really something. We still had a lot of fun, and we all agreed that the next time we visit Acme we'll sit up front, away from the bar. We all cabbed uptown soon afterwards and we each went our separate ways. Kaia was so tired that she nearly immediately fell asleep after we got into bed. We went to bed happy and smiling, which -- for the past two weeks, has been the norm.
It occurs to me that you never quite know how good something is until it's gone. And, of course, the converse is true as well; you never know how bad something is until you've experienced greatness. Well, I can say that I've experienced both those extremes, and I'm glad I'm on this path. And -- for a few more days, and for the rest of mine -- I'm looking forward to continuing on this path and smiling every night and every day.