I had not intended a fancy dinner when I suggested going for a bite to eat. Brenda proposed an alternate to our crossing-paths-at-Chai-Shai so we went to JULIAN, even though you can’t get out of there for less than thirty bucks, water included. My favorite restaurant hits the high-end of upscale casual on any day of the week.
I chose the “vegan / vegetarian” option and asked for a certain Main Plate with vegetarian protein substitute. The waiter had no clue what I meant. I showed him the line-item, $18 for a vegetarian version of your preferred main dish. He fussed and scurried to the kitchen. When he returned, he admitted that yes, they had tofu; and yes, I could have it as my protein.
Done and done. No hope of a glimpse of Chef Celina but Brenda told me a story about the Chef and her husband catering Brenda’s brother’s birthday dinner. I shared one about meeting the husband at one of my art events and — heart a-flutter — getting photographed with her on my birthday three years ago.
I’m a huge fan.
The tofu came. Four uncooked slices sitting on my plate next to the polenta fries and sauteed asparagus. The edge had a thin layer of herbs. Raw. Raw tofu. With no sauce. I complimented the seasoning, ate half of the asparagus, and nibbled a few of the delectable rectangles of polenta. I did create a minor stir by asking for something to drizzle over the tofu — aioli perhaps? Gravy, even? Eventually I got a little pitcher of vinaigrette, brought by a different server, held aloft with his little finger arched. The staff could be seen murmuring to each other in the kitchen, glancing towards me. They did not seem to understand why I might not enjoy plain, raw tofu, however attractively arranged.
The waiter plunked the check on the table without inquiring about dessert or coffee. I had wanted a warm mug of perfectly brewed French press which I happen to know JULIAN serves. I said as much to Brenda, noting my dismay that perhaps the waiter for some reason found us annoying. We hadn’t sworn, or grumbled, or knocked over the water glasses. Don’t assume it’s us, or you, Brenda encouraged me. He seems scattered to me.
I asked for coffee and got it. I enjoyed every single drop of its ebony deliciousness, which I found to be as silky as I remembered from my last visit.
When we opened our respective checks, I saw that I had been over-charged. Rather than the fee for a vegetarian plate, I had been charged the full price for a meal with meat.
Brenda said I should complain, but, well, this, so I couldn’t. What good is a resolve if I just throw it to the wind at the first chance? It’s not worth six bucks to cause a fuss in my favorite restaurant, I decided. So we paid, and home we went, Brenda dropping me in my driveway where I crept around her car, avoiding the ruts in the neighbor’s yard and the divots in the settling asphalt.
A small victory for my determination to live complaint-free. Every place has a slight off-night and to be quite honest, other than serving me raw tofu and assuming that neither of us wanted coffee, the service was spot-on. So I’m putting a tick in the W column. I know Jane might say that I just wrote a blog entry about a situation that bugs me about which I am pretending not to complain. But that’s not it. In case you missed it, I wrote about the folly of assuming.
It’s the fourteenth day of the thirty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Dinner for breakfast, with the tofu hard-seared on both sides and the polenta warmed in the toaster oven. Yummmy.