I've been obsessed with posting my Santa Cruz trip immediately following my sniveling rant about how I didn't want to go. But I haven't had a moment to capture the essence of our voyage and translate them into words that will change your lives, and pop out Jacob's stitches, so I've shelved it. For now. That said, I am totally breaking tradition, and offering up a little dish about an experience I had last night at a new local eatery, hoping it will impress you to no end, grease my wheels for the Santa Cruz blog, and keep Amy alive a little while longer.
A few years ago there was a little house/restaurant called the Dragonfly that B and I used to frequent, and occasionally planned monthly Moms' Nights Out with our home school group. The Dragonfly was Salem's mecca for gays, with AIDS awareness fliers plastered everywhere, notices of upcoming wanna-be Indigo Girls being featured at open mic night, everyone had a crew cut, a minimum of 20 tattoos, Docs up to their knees, and they had the best wrap sandwiches ever. It was great. Then they shut down, inexplicably, for many moons, never really giving a reason, nor a re-open date. Finally they opened their doors to all of us displaced deviants, and then slammed them shut permanently about three days later. It was the end of an era.
Several ambitious restaurateurs tried to revive the little house, in its poor location, with absurd parking, to no avail. One loser named it Cravings, Etc. (sorry if that was your sister), which lasted six months, and was only open from 9-10 M-F, and like 5-7 on weekends. Oh wait, it was closed three days a week too. Needless to say I was bewildered when they tanked.
Okey dokey, that brings us to present time. The house is now called Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro. I pass it almost daily en route to B's house, and refuse to go in on principle because the name is too long and the hours aren't posted on the door. And I don't have time to park my Jeep in their motorcycle-only slots just to find out they are only open on Saturdays from 5-5:30. Recently our broader friend circle has been searching in vain for a venue in which to craft, lounge, eat, sin, and preferably, not go deaf. Oh, and somewhere open later than 7pm. It's harder than you think. A couple days ago Todd read a review of the Neighborhood Bistro, and became somewhat consumed with trying it. Yesterday, when everyone was posting online that there are no suitable restaurants, that Salem sucks, that we're all moving, committing suicide, etc., Todd came bounding in like a labrador puppy who'd been caged for a week, absolutely bursting with accolades for the Bistro, where he had just had breakfast. Most of you know, Todd's a wonderful person, with a heart of gold. (Which he borrowed from the gold paved driveway waiting for him in heaven. I just hope he's not neighbors with Sarah Palin there, because I'm hoping his inherent goodness gets my kids in, and I don't want them getting cozy with her. Are there wolves in heaven? Okay okay, that's a different post.) So Todd is exceedingly conservative with compliments. Truly. If you poured a million dollars cash in his lap he would tell you how filthy cash is, and the statistics on Hepatitis and whatnot. So I was struck by his exuberance. He literally stood over me and forced me to post to everyone that it is imperative that we try the Bistro. So I did. I mean, for all I knew, he'd enlisted in some Bistro militia or some shit, that's what it seemed like. "The biscuits were so light you couldn't eat them with a fork, the gravy, and you know I'm not a gravy person, was divine. It was the best chicken fried steak I've ever had." I was convinced. I posted to the group, and decided I was going regardless. And then B said she'd join.
We arrived around 6pm, B looking quite stunning I must say, quite appropriate for what turned out to be a little higher brow setting than I was prepared for in my faded jeans, pilly, should-be-illegal, pea coat, neglected hair, the way you guys always see me, only worse because everyone there had pearls, Wingtips, Rolex watches, etc. So B was sleek in black, with her hair pinned up beautifully, rosy cheeks, good posture, and I was clearly the vagrant Indigo Girl wanna-be who was hoping to bear my soul and grunge at open mic night. Clearly she felt sorry for me, and in an act of charity, treated me to dinner. So this spritely waitress, the first of many celebrity look-alikes, came over with three glasses of water, and set two down for us. "Um," I started, "Is this deja vu, because didn't you just bring three glasses over and set two down?" She, Natalie Portman, shot B a quick glance, as if to ask "Is she on a furlough from the psych ward?" B, trying her best to stifle her embarrassment for me, sweetly pointed out that had Queen Amidala already brought us water, there would already, ahem, be water on the table. I was off and running. Then another uber-skinny waitress who moved so quickly she was but a streak, brought a basket of bread. Thankfully, she dashed away before I could ask if she'd already brought bread. The slices were so thin, they belonged as a prop in a production of Mickey's Christmas Carol, for it was almost as thin as the wait staff, transparent even. The menu offered frou-frou burgers made of beef, lamb, pork, giraffe, panther, you get it. I have a pretty simple palate, kind of a BLT girl. Yeah, no dice. B suggested the pulled pork sandwich, since it's one of my favourite things she makes. Sounded good, nice and safe. Suddenly were delighted to see Heather walk in, and while I typically malign her perfect figure, quite often in front of her (I don't know what is wrong with me but I'm taking medication), it came in handy last night, as our table was the size of a small chessboard. She fit perfectly, but I hadn't been a nuisance in at least three minutes so I asked if we could have the bigger table in the other corner. The Queen granted this request. She was a perplexing contrast of saccharine sweet, a bitch, and oddly transfixing. So we settled into our new digs and were quickly served our food. My pork sandwich was like a submarine. I immediately grew fangs and tore off a bite. Um, and then sort of choked/gagged/nearly puked. Now, B knows I'm finicky (okay, fucking impossible, if you must know the truth), but Heather doesn't, so I tried to disguise my near death moment, to no avail. Heather was practically calling an ambulance. (I don't hide things well, fyi, except hams--wink.) Oh. My. God. This was not B's pork sandwich. I winced and tried another wee bite, just in case I got a bad bite, but by then, the actual pig that was in my actual sandwich had begun squealing, its tail wriggling out the other end. That's right. It didn't taste like pork, it tasted like I went to Maria's farm and bit into one of her pigs. B, with her tough-as-nails palate, took a bite, as she often does, to determine if I'm crazy or if in fact, I got the shaft, in which case she trades me orders. So I was totally vindicated when she too gagged. She did not offer to eat my gangrenous pig in a bun, but she did offer me half of her sandwich, the name of which escapes me. I tried one bite, and listen, I can fit my mouth around a bowling ball, which I'm sure no one will contest, so this should have been no problemo. Problem was, the bread, and I hope I'm not stealing B's line, was made out of croutons. I sunk my teeth in and immediately began bleeding in my lower gum line. No joke amigos. Actual blood. I had no choice but to complete the bite, which I did, with tears streaming down. It was quite tasty, even with blood as an unexpected condiment. I called Todd and told him my sandwich was too gamey, that I'd bring it home to him. He said "Don't bring that gamey shit here!" This reminded me of the scene in Pulp Fiction when Eric Stoltz' character said, about the OD-ing bitch, "Well don't bring her here! I'm not even fuckin' joking with you man!" Todd didn't actually say shit, but I like to filter dialogue through my heathen lens, so suck it. Heather and B were trying to considerately pick at their food, seeing as how I was reduced to Ore-Ida steak fries for dinner. Suddenly, a new waitress breezed in with a smile that was almost assaulting. B leaned over and whispered, "Jennifer Garner." Right she was! And it was even funnier because B doesn't know who celebrities are. But she got Natalie Portman, and we simultaneously agreed on Jennifer Connelly. But I was still stuck with this $9.00 carcass and no dinner. Normally I waste no time bringing sub-par offerings to the attention of whomever I must, but I was slightly intimidated by the seeming mixture of genuine friendliness and Stepfordness of the waitresses, who all had the same super cute butt in cargo-flap pocket jeans. Alas, I knew I would seethe over my $9.00 forever, so I mentioned to the Queen that, um, my sandwich? Even though you can't see the pig? Well it's there, and I bit into it, and I'm not okay. She was puzzled, I assumed because she's only ever praised for her cuteness and tipped handsomely by the lawyers and dentists who come in to drink wine and hob knob. But she took the swine off my table and said she'd take it off the check.
I was glad not have thrown $9.00 into their Abercrombie jeans fund, but I was hungry yo. My eight fries were cold by then, but I ate them. I wouldn't dare take another bite of B's sandwich, for fear of losing a lip or something. Soon the Queen, accompanied by Jennifer Connelly and the blonde, cyborg version of Jennifer Garner, all of whom were exceedingly interested in my "gamey" sandwich. And the house is small enough that I was basically in fifth grade giving a report on gamey, unacceptable sandwiches, in front of the lawyers, in my tattered clothing, and food stamps. The waitresses grinned as they expressed disbelief about my not making love to the sandwich. I sheepishly said again, it was gamey, and unfortunately, inedible. They kept saying "gamey?" as if they'd never heard the word before. Possibly incredulous? I was really embarrassed. They comped me a salad, which somehow sustains Heather, lol, but just makes me hungrier. Oh well. Everytime one of the starlets passed by, they apologized profusely, though I questioned the sincerity. Then the Jennifer Garner-bot brought a slice of some chocolate-looking bullshit cake out, with three forks, as a peace offering. I quickly discovered I had misjudged. This cake was so stupendous, I would have made love to it, except we ate it too fast. I was pleased with the gesture. As we began to get our coats, and assured the Queen and Jennifer Connelly yet again that I was not going to die from the swine sandwich, Garner-bot approached our table with another piece of cake, and then laughed at us, and twirled away, and took it to another table. That must have been the bot part of her, attempting humour. It just made me feel more stupid. The place is small and overcrowded with tables, and you can hear the constant stampede of celebrities in cute-ass jeans rushing to and fro. One can scarcely eat in time, let alone knit, read a magazine, etc. Our celebrity friends apologized (some conjured up tears it seemed) seven more times as we stood to leave. We finally re-entered the real world, albeit with bleeding mouths, but nothing a little clove can't remedy.
In summation, I can only say that I do not recommend the Neighborhood Bistro, but that the utter and genuine awe expressed by the staff over my displeasure, may indicate that no one has ever sent anything back before, in the Bistro's history. If you like to bleed, pay through the hose, sit on the lap of a strange man in a suit next to you, eat transparent bread, and watch thin gorgeous celebrity look-alikes prance about in their sweet matching jeans, feel uncertain as to whether you are getting the friendliest service ever, or are just being tolerated until wealthier folks arrive, all while trying not to let the cacophony cause a psychotic break, then by all means, hurry on over.
As for me, I'll just go back in disguise, and cargo-flap jeans, to get another piece of the cake.