MFSushiBar

In Gourmet Magazine earlier this year there was a supplement listing the hottest and best restaurants in every city. When I finally got to the Atlanta section, I was surprised to see–sandwiched between the Ritz Carlton and Seeger’s–a restaurant Lauren often waxed lyrical about: MFSushi.

“It’s the best sushi ever,” Lauren would say. “It’s amazing. Like nothing you’ve ever had.”

This always seemed suspicious to me. Sushi is sushi. All raw fish tastes the same.

So tonight, when my friend Jimmy and I were making plans he said he was in the mood for sushi and I said: “How about MFSushi?”

Jimmy paused and said: “Yes, actually, that’s a good idea.”

Usually, sushi-goers in my circle of friends will sushi-go at RuSan’s, a perfectly respectable sushi joint with locations in Midtown and Buckhead. But tonight was special. Tonight we would eat the best of the best. I made the reservation for 8:30 and began my preparations. These entailed belting “Old Man River” at my piano and eating some Blackout guacamole.

Finally, the witching hour arrives. I drive down Ponce until I see the awning I have driven past so many times. I turn left and encounter a mess of a valet parking situation. I sit in the car for 10 minutes before someone finally takes my keys. (*As an interesting side bar, I have a weird thing where before the valet gets in my car I turn my CD off or put on the radio so they don’t judge my taste in music. You’d do the same thing if you had my taste in music.)

Walking up to the restaurant, I snap picture of the awning:

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I sneak in the door and Jimmy is waiting inside.

“Were you waiting long?” I ask.

“No,” he answers. “But good thing you made a reservation. There’s an hour and a half wait!”

The hostesss leads us to our table. Here’s what the place looks like:

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As you can see, the interior is very fashionable. Atlanta’s crem-de-crem are noshing on raw fish, and Jimmy and I fit right in.

Well, maybe we don’t fit right in, but we scrape by under the radar. The menus are brought and we begin our gameplanning.

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“Do you want to get two rolls each and share them?” asks Jimmy.

I find this plan rather worrisome since what if I don’t like what he orders? So I ask the waitress for advice.

“Well,” she says kindly, “I suggest that you order two rolls each and share them!”

“Brilliant!” I say.

Jimmy shakes his head.

So Jimmy orders the crunchy roll and the rainbow roll. I order the shrimp tempura roll and the tuna roll. But first, we order a ginger salad.

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I really like ginger salad. Or ginger salad dressing. When my friend Dana and I went to NYU for a summer, we were obsessed with the ginger-carrot dressing at this place called DoJo. So tonight, I really enjoyed my ginger salad.

“This is a good ginger salad,” says Jimmy.

The salads are taken away. Time passes. I think too much time passes.

“It’s been a while,” I say.

“No it hasn’t,” says Jimmy, pointing out that the people next to us, who just got their food, had been there before us. Before I can refute him, our food is brought.

Here is mine:

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Here is Jimmy’s:

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The verdict?

“This is really good sushi,” I say.

“Yes,” Jimmy agrees.

We scarf down 8 rolls from our plates and then swap.

“This is really good sushi,” I say, eating from Jimmy’s plate.

“Yes,” Jimmy agrees, eating from mine.

The sushi is gone.

Was this the best sushi of my life? Yes, most certainly yes.

But, to be honest, after tonight I realize that I’m not so much a sushi person. I like eating it, but I would never go out of my way to eat it. And I would never pay an exorbitant amount of money for the world’s best sushi. I’d rather have a really good steak.

The waitress, reading over my shoulder, begins to cry.

“There there, sushi waitress,” I say. “I didn’t mean it in a mean way.”

She scurries off with our credit cards.

“That was a good meal,” says Jimmy.

“Yes,” I say.

I stare at the empty plate.

“It certainly was.”***

*** Please forgive this strange ending. It is 3 AM and I have no idea how to end this. Thank you.

Blais Restaurant (Atlanta)

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Let me spill the beans right away: after tonight’s 26th course a man with spiky hair and a white soccer jersey came over to our table.

“How was everything?” he asked.

“Wonderful,” I said.

“Amazing,” said Lauren.

“Good good. Well,” he continued, “I’m Richard Blais.” He shook our hands.

For a sense of how accomplished Chef Blais is, check out his profile on the Blais Atlanta website. He has worked at the finest restaurants in the world: The French Laundry, Chez Panisse, and El Bulli to name a few. Now he was hovering over our table.

“It’s so nice to meet you,” Lauren said.

“Everything was delicious,” I said.

Now up until this point, we had the sneaking suspicion that the restaurant thought I was a food critic. Granted, in a very minor way I am a food critic, but writing a few reviews on the internet seems incredibly minor compared to the work of our nation’s real food writers: William Grimes, Ruch Reichl, John Kessler. We thought the suspicion stemmed from the fact that I was taking pictures of every course as it was brought out.

Lauren continued: “It’s really great how laid back it is here. Everyone is so friendly.”

“Yes,” I said. “Just a few months ago I went to Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and had an awful meal; everything was so formal.”

“Yes,” said Chef Blais, “I know.”

An awkward pause.

“How do you know?” I asked, incredulously.

“I read your review on eGullet,” he answered.

My stomach was in my throat. Say what!?

You see, several months ago–after our Charlie Trotter’s disappointment–I wrote a somewhat scathing review on eGullet–that launched a 12 page debate over the merits of my amateur perspective on fine dining. As exciting as this was, it always seemed a very contained esoteric debate in a cultish foodie world. Now this star chef was saying he read my review?!

“I actually read it to my staff here when we opened,” he continued. “So that they wouldn’t be so formal.”

Lauren burst out laughing.

“We also told the waiter not to follow you to the bathroom tonight,” he laughed, “even though we usually do that, because you wrote about that in your review.”

My ego, at this point, floated out of my body and began dancing the dance of the cocky monkey.

“Stop it, Ego,” I said.

Chef Blais lingered a little more. It seemed clear that he knew I would be writing a review. Was he nervous? Did he fear me? How powerful I had become!

And yet he had nothing to worry about. Lauren and I both found everything up until that point (and after) to be beyond spectacular. Our dinner at Blais was among the best I’ve ever had, and surely the best meal I have had in Atlanta. I say that having eaten at Seeger’s (which was cold and overly formal) and Bacchanalia (a vague distant memory that conjures very little in the way of nostalgia). Each course was a magical sensory experience–the most dazzling flavors melded together in ways so imaginative that each tiny course was an event.

“Well,” I said, “I’m kind of freaked out right now, but thanks for reading my writing.”

“No problem,” he said as the waiter placed down our 27th course.

“I’ll let you finish your meal.”

* * * * * *

So with that ego-trip out of the way, let us shock you with our food consumption. According to our waiter (who, by the way, was also fantastic: incredibly friendly, helpful and informative–appropriate since the chinese tattoo on his wrist is the word for “teaching”) the kitchen was shocked that we ate everything. “They were taking wagers back there,” he said, “as to when you would conk out.”

“Not us,” said Lauren, “we’re troopers.”

And for your visual pleasure, I captured every single course in the 31-course line-up. If you do the math, I think it will fall a little short but that’s only because some of the courses were served at the same time. And to be honest, I could not have put another thing in my mouth if they paid me. Since describing each course to you would take an eon, I will simply label each picture and let you enjoy the visual stimulus that was our meal. Suffice it to say, dining at Blais was an incredible treat and a dining experience that I highly recommend. And I’m not just saying that because I know the chef.

THE 31 FLAVORS MENU

Quail Egg, Maple Flavor

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Crispy Chicken Skin, Gravy, Pickled Collards

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Shrimp, Polenta, Amaretto

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Asparagus, Parmesan, Caramel

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Sweet Tea in 3 Textures

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Caesar Salad

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Salmon Eggs, Vanilla Caviar

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Oyster, Cocktail Sorbet

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Tuna Belly, Frozen Wasabi

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Veal Jelly, Vermouth, Horseradish

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Sweet Potato, Ranch Ice Cream

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Fried Squid, Smoked Paprika

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Sangria

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[Not exactly sure. The menu they gave us says “Inflated Salt Cod” but I think this is a clam.]

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Barely Smoked Hamachi, Yuzu

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“Vitello Tonnato”

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Sea Scallop, Edamame Ravioli

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“Impasta”

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Turbot, Almond Gnocchi, Orange Rind

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Wild Striped Bass, Short Ribs

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“Pink” Duck Breast, Aromatic Vapor

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Slow-Cooked Lamb Loin, Cashew, Coconut

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Cheeseburger, Foie Gras Milkshake** (This was the highlight of the meal! So funny and absolutely delicious.)

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Egg Cream, White Truffle/White Chocolate, Sesame Creme Brulee

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Olive Oil, Lemon Sorbet

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Warm Parsnip, Ginger (Sorry, I started eating this one before I realized I hadn’t taken the picture yet)

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Oozing Chocolate, Black Olive, Red Wine (and Birthday Well-Wishes)

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And, the final note struck was perfectly charming and perfectly funny. A square of gelled Tang floating on a white plate.

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Thus ended our birthday meal adventure. Excuse me now while I keel over and die a happy death.

Atlanta Farmer’s Market

“I can’t believe you’ve never been to the Farmer’s Market,” says Katy. “You’re the Amateur Gourmet!”

Her husband, Josh, agrees. “It’s really embarssing for you,” he says. “It’s like this horrible secret that no one knows about.”

Chris expressed similar sentiments last night. “It’s like you’re living this big lie.”

So today I finally broke and called up Josh and Katy and said: “Fine! Fine! I’ll go with you to the Farmer’s Market!”

Granted, I said this while the phone was still ringing. When I finally got through I casually mentioned a possible Farmer’s Market visitation, and Katy immmediately jumped.

“So you’re saying you want to go to the Farmer’s Market?” she asked enthusiastically.

“I guess that’s what I’m saying,” I replied.

“Well well well,” she said proudly. “Our little boy’s all grown up.”

So I made my way–ah, let’s do this in present tense–I make my way over to Josh and Katy’s and they are outside waiting.

“He’s here!” they sing in unison.

“I’ll follow you guys there,” I say. “I want to go to Border’s afterward.”

“Ok! Ok!” They get into their car. I get into mine.

We begin driving. The weather is rainy. I begin to wonder if today is a good Farmer’s Market day and then I remember that, according to Chris, the Farmer’s Market is indoors.

Here’s a picture of the drive:

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Finally, we get there. Josh and Katy point the way:

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“It’s over there!” they inform me.

“Can you guys stop talking in unison?”

They nod together.

We make our way over. Here is the last picture I’m officially allowed to take:

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After that, there is a sign that says “NO PHOTOGRAPHS! NO VIDEO RECORDING!” I find this rather odd for a Farmer’s Market, but I don’t say anything.

So we begin walking the aisles. Josh and Katy have an agenda: groceries to buy, things to plan. I am just there to watch.

“Aren’t you going to buy anything?” asks Josh.

“Nah,” I say. “I’m just here to look.”

“Ohh, come now,” says Katy. “Surely there must be something you want to buy.”

They lead me over to the spices.

“Look at these spices!” they say. “Look how cheap they are! And look how much you get!”

“Yes, they are cheap,” I say. “And you do get a lot.”

They lead me down the produce aisles.

“Look at all this produce!” they cheer.

It is true: there is a lot of produce. And the value is great. There are many people there scooping up produce by the armful.

“Ahh!” says Josh. “I know!’

He scampers off and returns with a yellowish ball with five fingers coming out of its head.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a hand of Buddha! For your website! A strange fruit!”

I accept the Hand of Buddha, despite my Jewish upbringing, and begin to have fun.

“Whoah!” I say. “Look over there! Fish!”

Josh, Katy and I run over to the fish section. There are live crabs snapping at children, lobster tanks, and giant glass aquariums with huge fish floating sadly in limbo.

“Oh my God!” I say. “Look how big that fish is!”

“You see!” says Josh.

“You see!” says Katy.

“The Farmer’s Market is great!” they say in unison.

“I know!” I say.

“Hey!” I add. “Let me take a picture!”

“But…” says Katy.

“I’ll do it covertly,” I promise.

I sneak the camera out of my pocket and snap this shot as Katy and Josh scout out for the fuzz.

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“Quick, run!” they say, and scurry off with their wagon.

I watch them scurry into the parking lot, tying the wagon to their car with rope and hopping in like Bonnie and Clyde. The speed off as the Farmer’s Market police chase them, sirens blaring and bullets spraying.

I sigh with gladness. I have been to the Farmer’s Market.

Taqueria Del Sol & Star Provisions

If there is one area of conversation, one facet of communication that I would extract from all future interactions it would be politics. My friends might find this strange because I am often puffing heatedly about affirmative action, gay parenting and abortion (I often play the devil’s advocate, rousing great venomous passions over dinner) but I never do so gladly. If I could, I would be done with it: leave the politics to the pros, and let me worry about food.

That was my mindset today as I made my way down 14th Street. (Cue Rufus Wainwright’s “14th Street” from his new album, which is such a good song). “Ahhh,” I said to myself. “What a lovely day. I shall go to Taqueria Del Sol and Star Provisions and record my experience for my site readers.”

And then I saw a vision out my window:

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I found this vision disconcerting because after my journalistic endeavor, I planned to kill my baby.

“Oh well, baby,” I said. “I guess you’ll live after all.”

Then I parked my car at Taqueria Del Sol.

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Did I think about the exploitation of Mexican iconography and food in maintaining the sustinence of rich white people? No, reader I didn’t. I ordered three cheaply priced tacos ($1.49 each): a fried chicken taco, a brisket taco, and a fried fish taco.

I sat at a table and read a New Yorker article about John Kerry. Damn politics!

Then my food was brought out:

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Did I see in my tacos metaphors for capitalism (brisket = beef industry), religion (fish = sticker on Christian cars) and cultural hegemony (fried chicken = mainstreamed version of the real deal). No! I just ate them and they were delicious.

Then I made my way over to Star Provisions, which–after severe protests from the S society and R-wingers–is now simply TA Provisions:

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In all seriousness, Ta Provisions is probably the most respected, most accomplished and most expensive “supermarket” to be found in Atlanta. It is housed right in front of Bacchanalia, often cited as Atlanta’s best restaurant. Inside you will find:

A bakery:

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Today they were selling these amazing look S’Mores:

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But I didn’t buy one because I’m a Democrat.

There’s also a kitchen equipment section:

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A meat section:

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And a candy section:

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Finally, after a trip through the wine section

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I made my way home. In the car, I noticed a mini-van in front of me with a large fish labelled “TRUTH” eating a smaller fish labelled “DARWIN.” The license plate said: “Support Our Teachers!”

The baby said: “Kill me now.”

The Varisty (Atlanta)

Last semester I worked at Atlanta Legal Aid. My boss, an amicable sort, had many convictions, the most prevalent one being: “There is no onion ring better than the onion rings they make at The Varisty.”

Now I’m a reasonable man. I believe that reasonable convictions maintained by reasonable people should be viewed reasonably. However, something here seemed awry.

“You mean to tell me,” I said, “in all the world, there are no onion rings better than the ones at The Varsity?”

“No sir,” he said. “Definitely not.”

Tonight, I had to grab a quick dinner between class and rehearsal for The VD Show; a Valentine’s Day show I’m doing with Out of Hand Theater featuring a musical I wrote called “The Boy Who Went Blind” and a musical piece I wrote called “Women Outside The Bakery” to be performed at CJ’s Landing in Buckhead February 12th to the 14th; live music, prizes, and I’m playing with the band (I hope they let me sing “Hey Ya!”). I decided The Varisty would do the trick.

The Varisty is an Atlanta staple. You just see it and think “Atlanta” in all its good and bad connotations. I walked in and saw three white men eating alone in trucker hats. The counter was dead; sleepy black women in visors stood sullenly on the other side.

“A #1 please,” I said.

“You want onions?” asked the woman.

“OK,” I said.

I paid and received my tray.

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The chili dogs? Well they were good. I really like chili dogs. It’s my vice. Some people smoke cigarettes; some people do drugs. I eat chili dogs. Though, it should be noted, the chili is rather–umm–well it kind of tastes like cloth ground up and soaked in beef juice. I mean that in a good way.

The onion rings? They were the best part. The best in Atlanta? Surely. The best in the world?

Well, boss, maybe. Just maybe.

Gourmet Dinner, Thumbs Up Breakfast, Horrific Epilogue

Last night the culinary muse descended upon me and whispered into my ear.

“Challenge yourself, my boy!”

I rose to the challenge and whipped out three cookbooks: Mario Batali’s “Simple Italian Food,” Alice Waters’ “Chez Panisse Cooking” and Sarah Moulton’s “Cooking With Sarah Moulton.”

From the first, I made a bizarre salad of fennel, blood oranges, pomegranate seeds and pecorino cheese.

Here are the ingredients, pre-slicing:

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Strangely enough, my favorite element was the pecorino cheese. This is strange, you see, because I come from an anti-cheese family and have spent many an hour struggling to outmaneuver the shadow my family’s anti-cheese stance casts upon my appetite.

The cheese purchasing was strange too. The cheese woman at Whole Foods was incredibly kind and incredibly helpful but also, apparently, incredibly inept. When I asked for pecorino she said: “Well, unfortuantely, all we have is pecorino studded with peppercorns.” I tried a sample (which I enjoyed) but then almost died when a peppercorn exploded in the back of my throat and made me reevaluate my belief in a heliocentric universe.

“Well,” I said sadly, “I guess I’ll take it.”

She chopped me off a chunk, packaged it, labelled it and handed it to me.

“Thanks,” I said, and as I walked away I noticed a stack of cheeses on top of which was one labelled Pecorino without peppercorns.

I bit the bullet and bought the peppercorn one I was holding.

So, anyway, I still enjoyed the nonpeppercorn parts of the cheese as did other participating cheesetasters. The salad, though, was a bit of a dud.

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Next, it was time for a second crack at risotto. My first crack went incredibly well, as documented in my eGullet submission: My First Risotto (A Young Man and His Arborio Rice).

That first risotto, from the Chez Panisse book, was a wild mushroom risotto and so this time I thought I’d attempt the saffron risotto. Did you know that saffron is the stamen of the crocus flower? Forgive the sentiment, but that’s like putting an actual penis or vagina in your dinner.

“How delightful!” sings the muse.

The ingredients this time out were more basic: onions, pancetta, saffron (which is pretty pricey for the little envelope you get of penises), rice, chicken broth, butter and paremsan. The end result?

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At first I thought I ruined it by adding too much chicken broth at the end (which, according to the cookbook, creates a severe risk of broth / rice separation) but after some frantic stirring and soul-searching, the risotto came out fine.

How did it taste? Risotto-tasters seemed to enjoy it, though I felt it was lacking in flavor. I much preferred the wild mushroom one.

And then, as if we weren’t full enough, I chopped up a block of chocolate, added simmering milk and made Sarah Moulton’s decadent hot chocolate. (NO PHOTO AVAILABLE) How was it? Very chocolatey. Too chocolatey, in fact. I felt sick afterwards.

Then this morning, Chris and I trekked to a place he declared the best breakfast in Atlanta.

“Better than the Crescent Moon?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said confidently.

“Better than the Flying Biscuit?” I persisted.

“Yes, yes, yes,” he answered.

“Better than–”

“Look, it’s good all right, let’s just go there.”

So we went to the Thumbs Up Diner near Inman Park in what Chris called the 4th Ward section of Atlanta. (Apparently, this is where MLK was born).

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We waited a scant 15 minutes and were seated at a table by a window. I was slightly tormented by the menu (in a good way). Should I have the sassy scramble or the french toast special?

Let me tell you about the french toast special: two slices of french toast, with CARAMEL, apples, cranberries and powdered sugar. How amazing does that sound? But it seemed too desserty for breakfast. I would feel guilty all day.

So I ordered the sassy scramble: eggs, smoked salmon, herbs and cream cheese; side of potatoes and a biscuit. Here it is several minutes later:

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Chris ordered something whose name I forgot but that consisted of sausage and eggs over some kind of garlic-tomato concoction:

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Chris enjoyed his and I really enjoyed mine. In fact, I can safely say that it is the best sassy scramble I have had in Atlanta (including Crescent Moon and Flying Biscuit).

Here, by the way, is what the place looks like inside:

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A GRAPHIC, UNHAPPY EPILOGUE

Here’s where our story grows grotesque. I suggest that you stop reading here. No, really, please: stop reading here.

For while food writers concentrate on the orifice above the shoulders through which food enters, very few food writers–in fact, NO food writers–concentrate on that other orifice, the one from which food exits.

Oh, God, I’m ruining my blog.

Suffice it to say that on the car ride back my stomach began doing Mary Lou Retton’s winning routine from the 1986 olympics. I began employing severe lamasse techniques–hoo hoo hoo, ha ha ha–opening the window, fanning myself, all the while attempting to drive and carry on a conversation with Chris.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I chirped, “doing great.”

Was it the sassy scramble? Probably not. The risotto? The pecorino? The crocus penises? I think it was the hot chocolate. Whatever it was, though, it was enough to make this food writer consider an alternative career in astrophysics. Or law!

Nah.

Fried Chicken at Watershed (Atlanta)

Tuesday night is fried chicken night at Watershed.

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Watershed is a Decatur-based establishment dedicated to Southern cooking and owned by (depending on who you ask) either one or both of the Indigo Girls. The executive chef is Scott Peacock, whose “Southern Cooking” is a recent cookbook bestseller, available at your local cookbook dealer.

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Yes, Tuesday night is fried chicken night–as long as you arrive by 7:30.

For those of us who have a Negotiations class from 6 to 8, this poses a problem.

“What time are you coming in?” asks the reservationist.

“8:30,” I reply, gingerly.

“Oh,” she says with concern in her voice. “There probably won’t be any fried chicken left.”

“Can’t you save us some?” I ask much like Oliver Twist asking for more.

“I’m sorry sir,” she says. “That’s impossible.”

So Chris and I arrive at 8:26, prepared for disappointment.

I ask the hostess with the same reserve the parent of a dying child questions a doctor as to their offspring’s life expectency: “Any chicken left?”

She smiles. “As a matter of fact.” Dramatic pause. “Yes.”

Woohoo!

We are shown to our table in a room that looks a little too industrial to be serving Southern food. Yet, the room has a pleasant quality to it also: a sourceless radiance that makes the temperature outside a distant memory. Our waiter approaches us with aplomb.

“What’s that?” we ask.

“A plomb,” he answers.

We wait for this awkward moment in the narrative to pass and order drinks.

“Sweet tea!” I say.

“Me too!” says Chris.

“Ah ah,” says the waiter. “No sweet tea. Just unsweet tea.”

What kind of Southern dining establishment is this?

“Two unsweet teas, then,” we reply.

He returns with our drinks and we order our fried chicken.

“Okey doke,” says the waiter, and scurries off to the kitchen.

Since this review concerns Southern dining, I will make this mid-section Faulkneresque.

My mother is a fish.

Twenty minutes later (or maybe even sooner), the waiter returns with two piping hot plates that he sets down before us. Their contents are as follows: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans and two biscuits. He brings us a side of butter and honey and we are set.

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The chicken is wonderful. The outside is not greasy at all, just perfectly battered and seasoned and fried. The inside is moist and flavorful; probably from soaking in buttermilk, as the Southern Cooking book suggests. The star of the side dishes are the green beans: crisp, succulent, and garlicky–their greeness counteracts the richness and whiteness of the other foods. The biscuits are yummy (though not as good or buttery or light as the Silver Skillet’s). The mashed potatoes are fairly forgettable.

Overall, we are sated, but I insist on dessert.

“What do you recommend?” we ask the waiter.

“The chocolate cake,” he says, as if letting us in on a secret. “It’s the best.”

We take his advice and he returns bearing chocolate cake.

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The cake is good. We eat it.

The check arrives. We pay it.

We rise to leave, and do what any self-respecting Southerner does when leaving a fried chicken dinner: shop for shampoo.

“Excuse me?” your thought bubble declares.

“Yes,” my fingers answer. Watershed’s lobby, rather incongruously, sells bath products to departing guests.

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I smell several varities and decide that my current shampoo–Aveda’s Blue Malva (why does Malva sound sexual?) (oh, I think I know)–works fine.

We exit into the cold and declare our Watershed fried chicken experience to be as soul-warming as light in August. Absolutely, absolutely. As I sit here typing, my dinner memories fill me with sound and fury.

My mother is a fish.

New York Prime (Boca Raton, Florida)

“Don’t write anything bad about New York Prime,” my mother warns. “I’m serious, Adam. Don’t.”

New York Prime is my parents haunt; it is their Cheers, their Casablanca. We go there every time I come home and we are treated like royalty.

“Mrs. Roberts!”

“Dr. Roberts!”

The entire room shifts with excitement. New York Prime is a scene, and my parents are a vital part of the scenery.

Tonight, though, began in our house. Grandma and grandpa came over for drinks and to hear me play the piano.

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After a rousing rendition of “I, Don Quixote” from “Man of La Mancha” we piled into the car and journeyed to that eternal beacon of my parents’ gastronomical gratification: New York Prime.

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A young bombshell opened the door for us and eager hosts and hostesses led us to our table.

“Right this way, Mrs. Roberts.”

We stopped to chat with the regulars: a judge, a publisher, a supermarket baron.

Here is a look at the scene:

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Finally, we sat, and were treated with one of the many perks of being a regular: a plate of olives and orange slices.

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Mo–my parents’ regular waiter–came with their usual drinks. After several minutes of menu perusal, he returned to take our order.

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Several interesting things happened while we waited.

A lobster was wheeled around the restaurant in a wagon:

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A lounge singer sang a Neil Diamond medley:

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Grandma and I traded glasses:

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Soon, the appetizers arrived. I had baked shrimp with garlic, parmesan and breadcrumbs:

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Then, the entrees came. I had a petit filet:

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Grandpa had the sea bass:

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Dad had a stone crab claw:

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We all had sides of mashed sweet potatoes, creamed spinach and onion rings:

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After consuming enough calories for the next several years of my life, I made my way to the bathroom. I thought this sign on the inside door was worth taking a picture of:

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[For those who can’t read it, it says: “If you have any problems with our restaurant, ask for our customer service representative: Luca Brasi.”] [For those who don’t get it, that’s Godfather humor.]

Finally, for dessert, the table was treated to a surprise celebration for my grandparents’ anniversary. A gigantic chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and berries. Here’s Moe lighting the candles:

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And here’s the cake itself:

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And that’s it. Three gigantic meals consumed in 36 hours. Tomorrow morning I’ll be on a plane back to Atlanta, where normal calorie intake will resume. The weekend of gluttony is officially over.