I know it’s been a while. Sorry ‘bout that. I get busy. I know, I know. It isn’t an excuse. That’s why I’m going to make it up to you. It’s time for a girl’s night out! Even Kirsten said she’d come—her hubby will watch the kids while we frolic! Go ahead, get gussied. I’ll wait.
Surprise! We’re heading to Holland for dinner and a show—Kirsten is meeting us there for a Saturday night on the town! Can you believe it? Hang on. “Hello?” (It’s Kirsten.) ” Holland Brewery is overflowing? No problem!”
Kirsten suggests Butch’s nearby—so convenient as it is one block west. We whisk off for an alfresco dining experience at Butch’s Dry Dock. You’ve a perky step that wasn’t there earlier in the day.
Have I told you how nice you look? The earrings are a nice touch.
You saunter through the sublimely bland concrete exterior, pretending to belong. The interior hallway displays expensive looking clothes—a well-heeled, faux brick shopping plaza.
The host leads you to a patio where giant sunscreens shade quiet, well-dressed patrons. Kirsten ‘Woo Hoos’ for you to join her; it’s a bit noisy with the rustle of seating and umbrella adjusting to keep us from drowning in the sun as we eat. You can tell middle-aged moms don’t get out much—we laugh as we decipher the cryptic menu. The rest of our meal we are the table to be! Laughter races from topic to topic. Our neighbors’ conversations never rise above a murmur the whole evening! How do they know when they’re having fun?
This is the fine dining portrayed in rich television dramas. The menu offers carpaccio ‘dusted with cocoa nibs’. Confit, chutney and cipollini are scattered on the menu in the same casual manner a fast food worker would ask, “Do you want fries with that?” The napkins on the table are cloth, lovingly scrolled in their own holster mid-table. No more McDonald’s cubed food for us! Now you can say you’ve risen to the hoi polloi at least for one meal!
Kirsten orders probably the sunniest looking martini you have ever seen—the Sweet Georgia is a slice of pink-orange froth accented with lemon. It tastes like a promise of eternal youth, almost masking the sticker shock of $11.00 with each tangy swallow. One sip is your reward for eyeing the drink like a thirsty spaniel. Kirsten is such a marshmallow!
Our waiter is sufficiently aloof to make a British butler proud, we warm much faster to red-haired Jack (of our hearts) who checks to see our glasses never empty. We dub him the ‘water boy’ as he obviously isn’t a waiter. He fixes our wobbly table and, with a furtive look, first left, then right, promises to provide a diversion so you can steal the menu.
The meal arrives in stages. We share the most exotic spinach salad ever concocted. Spicy bites of candied ginger pair with the grapefruit—but do challenge the palate with pepitas and a rough-ground mustard vinaigrette. The avocado is neutral and balances the whole. The table votes that it is a winner! Huzzah!
The meals arrive just in time to keep us from hunting down our waiter—though we do dragoon Jack into getting us some salt and pepper.* The verdict on the entrees is mixed. Kirsten braves the ethnic dish ‘Bahn Mi’ and concludes that, “It’s a good pork sandwich, but it doesn’t taste as good as the Bahn Mi served at the more authentic Huyen’s.” Even a dash of balsamic doesn’t fulfill the umami bite she’s looking for.
“You got the best dish of the three of us.” She says, eyeing your flatbread a little wistfully.
Go ahead gloat, I know you want to.
The brandade is good, but a tad salty. The brandade….you know, the smoked whitefish topped with bread crumbs served in a ramekin on a gold-edged plate? What? Ramekin.
R. A. M. E. K. I. N.
No, it’s a little dish to serve small souffles or dips like this one in. Why would you think I’d be talking about a Norwegian elf? It sounds Norwegian? Just eat your flatbread.**
So the banh mi that’s not a banh mi and the white fish are a smidge disappointing but the flatbread rules. The real draw is the bonhomie, under a hot sun, inviting warm exchanges.
“Will you look at the time!”
We’d better hustle if we’re going to make the show. But of course, there’s always time for a little detour…
I see you! You’ve spotted the candy store next door. So that’s why you skipped dessert! Okay, one…maybe two truffles, but then we’ve got to go!
Nibbling our chocolate, we head to the Holland Civic Theater for live entertainment in a new production: The Lies the Bind.
Kirsten warns us, “It’s a tearjerker.”
I know, I know, I should have checked with you, but I wanted it to be a surprise. Okay, so it’s a drama. I know, you like comedy, but a little drama never hurt anybody, right?
The Holland Civic Theater is located in a corrugated gingerbread house of a building. It even has the curlicue decorations along the eaves.*** It looks like a former church and we, the penitent, file into the pews awaiting the Southern discomfort to come.
Turns out the small venue is perfect for the family on the brink of tragedy. The space is intimate—you are knees to neck with the audience member in front of you. The line of sight is a bit awkward.
“Someone should tell management to stagger the chairs.” What do you mean, shush? You shush. Oh right, the show is starting.
TWO HOURS LATER…
Okay, so next time, we do comedy. No, I know you don’t like it when bad things like that happen…especially to children. Yes, yes. You get to pick the next one. A musical? You know how I feel about musicals! Okay, Galavant was an exception; who doesn’t love a good spoof musical? What about Ella? You mean the movie based on the book Ella Enchanted? That wasn’t really a spoof musical, now was it! No, it wasn’t good either. But you’ll admit, Anne Hathaway did her best to save it. Yes, yes. The book is turning over in its grave. Right, no more theater tickets without your express approval.
What? Yes. You can use my hanky. I’m sure you just got something in your eye.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*The subtle hint by condiment omission is that everything the restaurant serves is delicious without question. Only a hairy-knuckled troglodyte would add a thing!
** This is why we don’t go out for fancy dinners—one sip of martini and we’re lost.
***Alright, alright. I don’t know architecture terms. What do you call that bric-a-brac found along Swiss chalets?