Many a time in the course of our 10-year marriage — which we’re celebrating this evening — my beloved and I would split a bottle of wine for dinner and then fall asleep before 9 p.m. so we could be up when the babies started to cry.
But tonight we feast, and not at the kinds of places we usually frequent during these child-rearing years. There will be no coloring on placemats or tableside magic, no sneeze guards or spilled juice. Not tonight.
Tonight we want to have a dining experience of the kind we enjoyed in our past life together, when we were cosmopolitan and urbane, and fancy dinners were things that came along as often as shopping sprees, mornings spent in bed or spur-of-the-moment vacations.
We want a menu, designed by a real chef. We want a server who actually knows something about the food and can answer rudimentary questions about it, who can sincerely recommend a dish and not just push whatever’s about to go bad in the kitchen. We want white-linen tablecloths, yes, and hand-polished, heavy silverware. We want restaurant theater, just one more time.
There are many options in town for a couple like us, but we go all the way: Print Works Bistro in the Proximity Hotel, an oasis of sustainable goodness, just a couple days after the president of the United States saw fit to spend the night here.
So we’re at a table amid the long, white drapes, looking into each other’s eyes as we drink the wine, savor the musky truffle fries and peruse the menu. Print Works is not cheap, but tonight, for a change, we don’t care. Appetizer. Salad. Some more of that bread with soft, roasted garlic and salted butter pats. The lady will have the quinoa, and I will have the duck.
Who orders a vegetarian dish at a four-star restaurant? Not I, that’s for sure, but the wife is pleased with her whole-grain dish, laced with goat cheese, tomatoes and other forms of Mediterranean goodness. The beet chips, flour-dredged and then deep-fried, are delicious, and something I believe I can re-create in my home kitchen.
The Overnight Duck Confit, however, is a work of mastery: two whole legs and thighs, braised slowly in their own fat until the meat slips off the bones like the garments of an eager lover, rich and succulent, luxurious, wonderful with the Poilly-Fuissé. There are Brussels sprouts on the plate, a nice piece of greenery, and in its own little skillet what appears to be cauliflower au gratin, though I’m sure it has a much fancier name than that. It is a tremendous serving of food.
And because it’s our anniversary, we get a free dessert plate, with samples of four popular dishes. We love the warm gingerbread crème brûlée, almost as much as we love the toffee cake with brûléed banana, but more than we like the lemon merengue cheesecake. But nothing tops the profiteroles — basically cream puffs with ice cream instead of custard. They are the one thing we’ve eaten that does not pair well with the Poilly-Fuissé, but by then we do not care.