Saturday, January 2, 2010

Middle-Aged White Couple Out on the Town

Gentle Reader. Friend.

Please, sit down for a moment. Perhaps take a few yogic breathes and enjoy a sip of chamomile tea. Grounded? Calm?

Here's the punch line of this blog post: on New Year's Eve, the Matron and her husband went to a very well reviewed St. Paul restaurant and paid $12 for ONE CRACKER.

A $12 cracker with some kind of bland spread.

The restaurant is Heartland and because the place was supposedly full (lots of empty tables) and the Matron and her spouse were sorta Mary & Joseph-like, with no reservations at any Inn, they dined at the wine bar. Or rather, dieted.

Here is the wine bar menu.

The unsuspecting duo had a glass of wine apiece. They ordered the "Wisconsin parmesan cheese-pumpkin gougere with haralson apples, wild mushroom mousse, DragSmith Farm microgreens and Montmorency cherry-port wine syrup."

This was the cracker with spread, a dollop of some sort of sauce with a few sprout-like spiders on top. ONE CRACKER FOR TWELVE DOLLARS. And an uninspiring cracker to boot! The Matron figures that the capital S in DragSmith added a good ten bucks to the cost. Really -- just the word DragSmith must be worth a Hamilton.

Now, the Matron just about fell off her pretty stool, rendered instantly hysterical at the actual bona fide experience of seeing, eating and otherwise being confronted with the bland cracker that would cost her twelve bucks.

Then came the $24 lake trout -- a nondescript hunk of flesh on top of TWO parsnips and TWO carrots. John enjoyed the Iowa chestnut-sheep milk cheese ravioli for the ten seconds it took to eat: Baby Raviolis. That $22 price tag must be a dollar per second for the time it takes you to swallow and wipe the lips. Imported from IOWA and all that.

John: "But it's the artistry of the food we're paying for--the synergy of ingredients, eating space, lighting, flavors, texture and quality. The experience. This is a tasting menu."

Matron: "Good God man. We're talking about a cracker with sprouts and a flavorless hunk of fish. There's no artistry involved other than old-fashioned con artistry. Tasting menu? There is no taste! This king has no clothes, darling."

While she was scraping her insulted sensibilities off the ceiling, she also noticed that the restaurant was populated entirely by middle-class, middle-aged heterosexual white couples. Who probably read all the restaurant reviews and were all agog to eat in a place that supports "food artisans who employ sustainable agricultural practices." Food artisans? Give this girl an old fashioned cook.

Not two people in that place were touching. No sirreeeee. . . . . this was button-the-collar-sex-in-the-dark-twice-a-year-raw-energy. Sturdy shoes were had by all and everyone appeared to enjoy the expanse of table between them.

The Matron has more of an appetite. She and her husband were knee to knee at the bar, which made them, well, nearly naked.

But still. .. . she strangely fit right, being a middle-aged white heterosexual middle-class unit.

After spending a much regretted $77 before tip on about six ounces of under-examined food (yes, Heartland, she hopes you have tracking software and find this review which is also going to an online magazine next week) she and her husband continued on their middle-class, middle-aged white heterosexual journey by catching It's Complicated, the latest Meryl Streep flick also starring Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin.

Where they sat in the midst of an entire theater full of middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual white couples barely touching shoulders.

And guess what? The Matron fit right in.

John: "I guess this sort of tells you about our place in the Universe."

That's right, honey. Either here or behind the wheel, driving Scarlett. At least the Matron's five bucks got her a BUCKET of popcorn, a full belly and a nice palm oil buzz-- a way better deal than a TWELVE DOLLAR CRACKER.

Wonder what Heather Armstrong -- who single handedly brought down Maytag and got herself some fine new appliances to boot -- would do with that!


MidLifeMama said...

I hate when that happens. The restaurant experience that is. You live in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Isn't that place by definition kind of...white? I will have to ask my friend who lives there if he and his wife have tried that place. Better luck with the new year!

Grumpy Momma said...

I used to go to school at the U, and lived right next door to Matt's Bar on Cedar AVe in Minneapolis.
I forget how much they cost, but the Juicy Lucy was great, and truly no artistry in sight! (And you may, MAY, even see a non-white person there.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Anyone who has ever worked food service knows that you don't eat out on New Year's Eve - lousy service, so-so food, higher prices...the same goes for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day Brunch.

Or at least, that's how I rationalize it...

Heather said...

Wow. Yeah we don't even attempt to eat at "fancy" spots. I need a little more than one cracker. Also, I'm cheap.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a disappointment. I trust you had a few laughs at the movie though. I also recommend Up in the Air--we really enjoyed seeing that today.

SUEB0B said...

I can't wait to invite people over and serve them head cheese and call it "fromage de tete." Brilliant!

Erin said...

Mary, you should really talk to the restaurant management about the bad meal. Seriously, the experiences I've had at Heartland have been nothing but top notch, and that's saying something because I always order off menu (they never have a vegan course per se, but always put something together on request.) They can't fix it if they don't hear from you.

Daisy said...

When I complained about Sears, I got a blog comment and an email from their customer service. Nothing more, though. Well, I'm not Heather.

Minnesota Matron said...

Okay, Heartland fans -- I'll give the restaurant a call. Of course, you're right. Best to give them the courtesy of our polite discontent!

jenn said...

I hear you. I've been in situations like that, where I'm casually looking around for the hidden camera because no one in their right mind could serve THAT with a straight face unless they were a professional actor.

blognut said...

Oy. I just don't fit into those stuffy style places. I'd be making wisecracks at everyone until they threw me out of the place. Although, if they throw you out before they bring you the bill, you're money ahead. :)

kanishk said...

I need a little more than one cracker.

wagyu beef

Jamie said...

Well that just sucks. Here in Vegas that's unfortunately commonplace, but in the land of cheese and beef I wouldn't suspect. I wonder what Dooce thinks of the post. You KNOW she has tracking software.

Raven said...

My sister and I went with my mom to see "It's Complicated" on Sunday at the early morning matinee.

My sister's comment once we entered the door- "What is it? Senior day?"

Haha! I thought it was cute, though it was way too much of Alec Baldwin for my taste.

Speaking of taste, that menu would've killed me. I like FOOD. I will pay mightily for it, but it has to be good and plentiful.

Tracy said...

I just found your blog by way of the WC. You make me laugh and I don't like to lurk, so I thought I would comment.

Hubby and I live in the hood of the Heartland and after all of the hype decided to finally try it last year for my 40th birthday.

Huge mistake.
1. We only go out, alone, to a nice place, once per year - so going there turned out to be a disappointment.
2. To also pick the one night we go out, alone, to a nice place for my 40th birthday - going there turned out to be a HUGE disappointment.

After spending $120 and leaving STARVING, yet slightly tipsy from the overpriced bottle of wine - we went to Mickey's and scarfed down eggs and hash with the homeless friendly people downtown.

Now THAT was good time and worth every penny.

Love your writing!