Okay, where did we leave off. Oh, that’s right. We were brusquely greeted by a waitress who was not at all pleased by the fact that she was serving two young Americans, who were not only fifteen minutes late to their reservation, but also seemed unable to focus their eyes…
Disclaimer: Portland is an incredible restaurant with a chef who does culinary magic, an atmosphere anyone with even half a design brain would fall for, and a wonderful waitress who we’ll remember forever. It is not any fault of this establishment that we two dinguses made a mess of it all.
Keep in mind, this is a high-end restaurant, beautifully decorated and curated to the last detail. Now, picture the two of us sitting there staring blankly at the one page menu they’ve brought out for us.
On it, each item was listed beneath its corresponding category: starters, appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Looking up at our waitress, we naively asked if we could order a starter and appetizer and then see if we were hungry enough for an entrée. The look she gave us made it seem like we’d asked to burn the place down. Like, “hey, would it be cool if we poured kerosine everywhere and lit the shit out of this place?” She was (to put it mildly) pissed off.
“No…” she responded tersely, “the kitchen’s going to close. You need to order all courses now.”
So, we revisited the menu and placed our order. We’d begin with the cheese macarons, then we’d have the *lobster rolls…
*Okay, folks this is where things get a bit hazy. All I can say is that we chose an entrée that was some sort of fish. Halibut perhaps? I think it came with seasoned asparagus and the dessert was probably a chocolate cake of some sort. I’m vaguely remembering eating chocolate cake. Oh, god. I hope it was chocolate cake…
Moving on, we gave our sunny-dispositioned waitress these requests along with, of course, a cocktail and wine order, because we needed more alcohol…
While waiting for our first course, we received our beverages and talked (god only knows how loudly…) about how hungry we were. Now, first world problem jokes aside, we were really fuckin’ famished.
As our drinks slowly dwindled and our heads got even cloudier, out came our starters. I don’t believe at this point we noticed that our first waitress had abandoned us.
Chewy, cheesy, savory macarons, those little morsels didn’t stand a chance. I’m pretty sure we swallowed them whole. And, as you can imagine, we looked classy AF as we shoveled those little circles of joy into our mouths beneath the twinkling, atmospheric lights. Someone really should have taken our picture.
Then, of course, we just had to sit there twiddling our thumbs while we waited for those thick lobster bodies to be our next victims. I’m not even sure we talked to each other while we waited. I think we just stared down at the emptiness that was our plates and tried not think about how it matched the emptiness of our souls without the joy of food. And then we tried not to think about the food and then tried not to think about trying not to think about the food and then… YES!!! Our appetizers were coming our way.
Two things happened at this point:
First, we realized that we had a new waitress who did not look like she wanted to recreate a Guy Richie fight scene with us in the alley outside.
Second, the “lobster rolls” that were placed in front of us were not really fucking rolls at all. What do I mean by that? Instead of the thick, rice paper wrapped, sustenance-providing dishes you’d find in your average sushi restaurant, these things were TWO slivers of, I dunno, a lobster’s oblique maybe? Seriously, together, they might have equaled the size of a pencil. A FUCKING PENCIL. A #2, not a sumo grip for you ’90s kids, fucking pencil.
At the sight of those rolls, my stomach gave a lurch, and I was lost to a fit of tears and laughter. Here we were, a couple of the hungriest little piggies I’ve ever known, and this bougie restaurant was serving up lobster PENCILS. It was too much.
I scooted back my chair and went downstairs to use the restroom. I’d love to describe it for you here, because I’m sure it was lovely, but let’s be real. I don’t remember it.
Meanwhile upstairs, Cienna was chatting with our new (and may I say much improved) waitress.
“What are you girls up to tonight?” our waitress asked, “It’s Friday so you must be going out to get drunk.”
“Well, we were across the street…”
“Oh!” the waitress exclaimed, “then you already are!”
That’s when Cienna said she noticed it (though I still can’t testify that it’s true). The woman had six fingers on her right hand.
I came back upstairs and joined in the conversation with the waitress and Cienna. Did she have other tables to take care of? Thinking back on it, I can’t quite figure out how she spent so much time shootin’ the shit with two wasted Americans, but I’m so glad she did!
Sitting down, I finished my drink, and the entrée arrived. The rest of our evening was a blur of chatting with our waitress about her children, what she does in her spare time, shoveling some sort of wonderful fish into my mouth, telling our waitress about our travels, eating chocolate cake? and listening to some sort of story that I’m sure was far too intimate, but felt totally appropriate at the time.
Then the bill arrived. A good ol’ £95. Not that I was shocked. Honestly, through the happy and hazy lens that I was seeing the world, it was the most perfectly reasonable cost for a meal. It’s funny to think about how little a part reality played in that entire euro trip…
When we’d paid our bill, we stood from the table, suddenly aware that there had been quite a few other diners enjoying their quiet meals in the restaurant. The giggles hit again as I thought about the role we’d played in their evening. They had probably been racking their brains, trying to figure out how two obviously hammered twenty-year-olds had gotten into a place like this. We’re rish bishes! I wanted to yell. Thank god I didn’t. We’re not.
We walked (not so steadily) toward the door. Our waitress friend followed and told us how nice it had been to meet us. She asked if we knew our way to the Underground Station.
“Yep,” we said with confidence!
We had no idea where the station was.
She pulled out her phone and pulled up maps, showing us where we needed to head to catch a train. I should have noticed Cienna staring madly at her fingers as she typed in directions, but I think I had been more interested in the way the streetlights were blinking or how I was swaying every so slightly.
We said goodbye and started our jaunt toward the Underground.
“Did you see??” Cienna asked with wide eyes.
“See what,” I responded, because I’ve never noticed anything in my entire life and wasn’t about to start then.
“She had fucking twelve fingers. SIX on each hand.”
“I KNOW!” she countered, “that’s why I fucking counted them again. I was like, Cienna, your drunk. Count again. And I DID. 1..2…3…4…5…6…1…2…3…4…5…6…1…2…3…4…5…6″
“Okay, okay!” I still didn’t really believe her but we’d arrived at the Station.
We walked inside and I pressed my little card down onto the button to open the gate, but the gate wouldn’t open. I tried again. And again. Omg. My little card was broken! What was I going to do? Did I have to buy another one? Where would I buy another one? This was terrible. I tried again. It still wasn’t working.
I looked up and spotted two officers standing together chatting. Cienna took off toward them with a confident march.
“Excuse me,” she said with authority, “my friend’s card isn’t working.”
The men stared down at us and blinked.
“That’s because it doesn’t have any money left on it…” he replied and turned back to the other officer.
Red with embarrassment, I simply reloaded the card at the kiosk, pressed it down and we were on our way to the platform to catch the train. Back in the hotel room, we drunkenly tried to prepare for bed. In the morning, we would be catching a train to the airport (or so we thought, but that’s a whole other story….).
In the morning, we awoke to hangovers that were made a tiny bit better by a delicious breakfast downstairs and then went on a wild goose hunt for H2 Brun Sauce to take back to the States, like the good yankee girls we are!