Thursday, July 13, 2006

How to dine out

When I came in from the field on Tuesday afternoon, I noticed the distinct accent of mid-America coming over the cubicle wall. It happened to be complaining about what sounded very similar to my living situation, and so I met Carrie. Carrie was here this week (from Columbus, OH- more on that later) checking out the Melbourne office and interviewing and deciding if she should move her family overseas. In the mean time it gave me someone more clueless than I am to entertain. So, I gave her a ride back to the flats and we went out to find some dinner.

We (I) decided to walk down Toorak towards the city and see if there was anything good along the way, since I was sure that I'd seen some Italian places along that way, and that sounded pretty good. So, we got to the place I'd remembered and it looked a bit bare, actually, so we kept walking until Carrie spotted Cosi, another Italian restaurant. In we went and we even scored the good table by the fire.

Unbeknownst to us, Cosi was a bit upscale, but I decided I could take home whatever I couldn't finish and get two meals out of it, and so the cost wouldn't be quite so bad. Wrong. Once we finished, I asked to have it for "take away" (if you ask for a box, they laugh at you apparently, a lesson I'd previously learned) but the waitress said it was against the law to take away food from the restaurant unless it was for your dog. Surprised, I assured her it was for my dog, and she whisked it away, never to be seen again. Forty five dollars for pasta and you'd think they'd let me take the leftovers to my "dog".

Wednesday evening Carrie was feeling a hankering for pizza and as I was just about to explain that pizza is not what she would be getting, even if she ordered it- Ric commandeered me to explain where his favorite pizza place in town was, and it was just in our neighborhood. Since if the boss tells you it's good, you'd better try it, we headed down Toorak again this time away from the city, and found Gallery 324. As we were perusing our pizza choices, I warned Carrie that when you order pepperoni here you ended up getting little peppers instead of meat. Appalled at the notion, she called out to the barista/host/owner and asked. He proudly told us that yes, the pepperoni on his menu was actual pepperoni and not vegetables or some crazy salami as I'd had before. What did I learn from this? Nothing. I will still have to ask and look dumb 80% of the time because now I won't be sure if pepperoni is really pepperoni. Jeez. Oh, and we were allowed to take the leftovers. (The pizza was good by the way. A bit floppy in the middle, but the best so far.)

Thursday. I'd finished my field work (finally!) and so I was in the office. Since I'd promised a lunch date with Tara, we took off down Burwood Rd. in front of the office and she knew a cafe that was good. I was surprised to find that we were going into the cafe that I'd passed many times with watering mouth thinking that it looked way too good to be cheap. One of those places where they make everything and then put it in the window all dressed up and garnished and pretty. I was happily surprised to know that my shepherd's pie was cheaper than the subway I'd choked down while working on site, and now I have a good place to go if I "forget" to pack my lunch.

OK, so Thursday night was Carrie's last social night and I'd been able to get Sally to plan for dinner with us since they do about the same thing (Carrie would be Sally's new senior project manager). Unfortunately, a ghetto worthy fight broke out in our little complex late Wednesday night and Carrie had very little sleep to get her through the day. This meant that by our planned dinner excursion, it was me and Sally alone to brave through. (This was OK, I like Sally, or I wouldn't have invited her in the first place, but I was sad they didn't get to meet.) Sally was keen on this Mexican (!) restaurant called Fiesta Mexican Restaurant (creative, no?) and since I was up for a laugh, I agreed. The margaritas were strange, the salsa on my burrito was stewed tomatoes, and the shredded beef was actually carne accidentally secado, but you really can't screw up a beef burrito, so it was good. Turns out that this restaurant (this neighborhood) is somewhat close to the tennis courts where they play the Australian Open, and so they had a Lleyton burrito (chicken and sour cream- how boring) and a Agassi special (somewhat spicier), and a couple more that I didn't recognize.

Over dinner I asked Sally about the take away vs. not problem and she said it was something to do with people leaving them in the fridge for a week, getting food poisoning and then suing. Sounded strangely American. She instructed me that the best way to go about it was to simply ask if you "could take it home" and that usually worked. And it did.

Side note 1- Sally also commented that her favorite show, "The West Wing" was on. I said that it surprised me how the British and Australians seemed so into that show, since it is so American. She said "If John Howard was your Prime Minister, you'd prefer Martin Sheen too!"

Side note 2- When chatting with Carrie about whatever, we figured out that her husband worked for Ashland, at the very same office (Dublin, OH) where I was offered a job by a client after my lay-off in 2002. She said that the environmental group there was a complete cluster, (her husband is not in the environmental group) and it's a good thing I didn't go. Snaps for good decision making on my part, eh?


Grahmanda said...

I hear Martin Sheen is looking for a job. Maybe they could hire him for Westwing Priminister in Australia.

Trina said...

Next time, just walk out with the plate!