Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Steak and Eggs

Already I have written about various types of food but I have not specifically mentioned restaurants. I imagine that many of us - if not all - have dined out and enjoyed - or not! - what has been placed before us.

I am not a gourmand (nor do I enjoy cooking) so this is a reminiscence of noteworthy meals eaten elsewhere. 

The fifth anniversary of Ric and my nuptials was June 28, 2008 and, as Ric was here for Gay Pride, he suggested a '5-STAR' restaurant for our dinner. He looked into a Toronto restaurant guide, found three places thus designated, read the menus and we opted for Scaramouch at 5 Benvenuto Place.

Having not heard of that restaurant before I dug out a Toronto street map and found the address. Benvenuto Place is a small street that goes west from Avenue Road between Davenport and St Clair Avenue West. The dining room occupies the main floor of a condominium building and the south wall of the facility is a plate glass window which affords a magnificent view downhill to the core of the city. Ric sat facing in that direction so admired the skyline outlined by the setting sun and then watched all the lights come on.

I do not remember specifically what we ate but do remember that the food was exceptional. At the price that Ric paid it had to be!  We enjoyed a fine wine with the meal and a rich dessert afterwards.

Now on to other dining experiences.

A Swiss chef lost his sight and then (in Paris, France) he dreamed up a unique dining experience - a restaurant where the waiters are all sightless and the patrons eat in total darkness. Now there are restaurants  following that pattern in a number of cities including Toronto. The dining room is named 'Noir' and it is located in the basement of an apartment hotel two blocks from where I am living.

The entryway is reached by descending a flight of stairs off of Charles Street East at Church Street. Going through the door one enters a dimly lit foyer at the far side of which is a counter with menus. There are only two entrees listed each evening so the choice is simple and the woman behind the counter notes the choice. A little further along is a bar where alcoholic beverages can be ordered and the drinks will be brought to the table after one is seated.

Shortly a waiter will appear in the foyer and announce the name of the party. Once identified he will approach and ask the members of the party to follow him across to a closed door. Upon the door being opened he will ask the diners to enter into the dimly lit room behind him, place the right hand upon the right shoulder of  the person in front (i.e. waiter, guest, guest and so on).

Proceeding on, the party passes through yet another door into total darkness. Remember - the waiter is totally blind but he has memorized the layout of the room and he winds his way through the tables until he reaches the designated one. As I was walking behind Ric the waiter told me to reach to my right and find the back of my chair and then to sit. Once I was comfortable he led Ric around the table to the opposite chair and asked him to be seated.

Once settled he asked each of us to explore the table with our hands to find our place mat, napkin, cutlery, bread and butter plate and water glass. Once that was accomplished he left us to chat and to listen to the voices of other diners whom - of course - we could not see. The drinks that were ordered at the bar were delivered shortly after we were seated. During our first visit we were amused by hearing the strident voice of a woman who loudly complained that, while she had ordered the beef dish, she had received something else. Our experience told us that the reason the menu was simple was so a mix-up was not likely to happen!

It was not long before our food was delivered. How does one determine what is on the plate? By touch! The second time we were there both of us ordered the steak. I ordered 'medium rare' and it was 'medium rare' but already cut up into bite-sized pieces. The interesting task was to discern by touch what was the vegetable (the potato was obvious).

We enjoyed our meals while quietly talking. No - I did not knock over the water glass but carefully searched for it to my right.

While we knew what the entree was to be, we had no idea about the dessert. I remember that - on our first visit - it was a deliciously moist piece of chocolate cake with icing.   How was I to eat it? With my fingers - including the wonderfully gooey icing! I cannot recall what was the dessert placed before me on our second visit.

I was so impressed by our experience that I told a number of friends about the restaurant and a birthday celebration was in the offing for one of them. As he was intrigued by my description of our meal, he suggested to the lady who was to treat him that they dine at Noir. When I saw him again I asked how the celebration went. He told me with a chuckle that his hostess had quite a sense of humor and, while they were eating, she exclaimed, "It is so dark in here I could go topless!" Immediately the waiter appeared by her side and said, "Madam, my loss of sight is made up for by an extremely sensitive ability to hear!"

If you live in or near Toronto - and you are adventurous - give Noir a try. If you don't live near here, perhaps your nearest large city has a "Noir" too. If so - try it!

With traveling to San Francisco to visit Ric, we have eaten in many different restaurants  In previous blogs (see "Food") I have mentioned the restaurant a few blocks away from where Ric lives that was owned by a black gentleman who was originally from Louisiana. The cuisine proffered reflected that culture and it was extremely good. 

Also I  have mentioned Pasta  Pelican - a restaurant near where Ric used to work. The menu offered various pasta dishes and the sauces which went with each dish were exceptional!

At the foot of Market Street in San Francisco is a seafood restaurant where we have dined on more than one occasion. Very expensive but very delicious.

Ric's best friend discovered another restaurant which was on Market Street west of Van Ness Boulevard and about half way between there and Church Street. The restaurant was Brazilian owned and operated and was fashioned upon a type of eatery that is very popular in Brazil. The food - which consisted more of meat than anything else - kept coming and coming and coming. I do not remember what the signal was for us to stop the interminable string of meat dishes from coming. Aptly the word 'Carne' was in the name of that eatery. It is suggested that Vegetarians NOT eat there!

I felt bloated when we left but the food was most certainly good!   

Perhaps you have been wondering why I chose "Steak and Eggs" as the title for this blog? Well - in Brisbane there  was a restaurant on Queen Street which specialized in steaks. One evening I decided to eat there before going to a theater. I had eaten there before and thoroughly enjoyed how my steak was cooked (the restaurant specialized in the best steaks cooked as chefs in the fine restaurants of the world cooked them).

After I was seated another fellow was seated at the table behind me. When the waiter came to take his order the man said "Steak and Eggs!" This is/was standard fare in many eateries in small outback towns but this restaurant specialized in Filet Mignon, Steak Tartar and other fancier steak dishes. The waiter suggested that the gentleman choose one of those dishes but No! He wanted "Stike and Aigs" and nothing else.

I enjoyed my Filet Mignon! 

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