Sunday, January 23, 2011
It was the kind of meal by which I fill up a short list of favorite restaurants.
No restaurant is likely to become a favorite of mine unless a conversation takes place there that has stopped me in my tracks. I can easily forget an entrée, an appetizer, a specialty cocktail. I cannot easily forget the news about a son who is in trouble, the silent exclamation of a friend unwrapping a gift she had not expected, the update on someone long vanished that starts “Well, you do indeed have a good memory.”
Nothing matches the simultaneous lifting of heads and meeting of eyes over a first bite by which two friends corroborate the other’s instantaneous conviction: “We ordered the right thing.”
That happened last night.
The restaurant chosen for our visit belied the common wisdom of a Zagat’s review. On the other hand, neither of us felt the need to take on the reviewer’s role or prepare a sage critique to serve up on Monday morning to colleagues apparently ready for the scoop.
My friend and I had gone to be together. We had gone out for a meal to let the efforts of others provide us the time and space and energy simply to be company for a friend. We had gone out precisely to see the other across the table.
Oysters? They were a bit briny but nothing, we found, that the mignonette did not make more interesting. Memories? They surfaced with every stage of the meal. We named other restaurants, other meals, other years.
When you have a habit of honesty with a friend, you find the attention something that lets you forget why some things don’t work out, why some people can’t fathom the simplest things.
Like two friends at a meal who look across at the other.