Friday, February 29, 2008

Coldstone It Ain't

Friday night.

People took off early from work.

Club flyers are plastered on the cars.

Well-dressed suburbanites are rushing to the metro for drinks, dancing, and god knows what else.

And here I am, in my hotel room, tapping away on my keyboard.

It's a sad existence, this living-in-a-suburban-hotel gig. But worthless American dollars be damned, I was on a mission to do something. So I walked the streets of Clichy, searching out a restaurant. It's payday after all, so I can afford to splurge a bit, n'est-ce pas?

I walked around in a huge circle, finding nothing but shitty faux Chinese traiteurs and the same dingy, fluorescent-lit brasseries I did last time around. For the umpteenth time, I walked by a place called Fire & Stone Grill, a place that - no matter how many times I saw it - I've avoided like the plague for the name alone. But this time, I went in. Drawn in by the fantastic smell of grilling steak and the reasonable menus, I couldn't help but be seduced by the prospect of meat.

The atmosphere was jovial, but it depressed me. Enveloped by the sound of my favorite kitschy 80's tunes, I felt much rather like dancing with someone I loved than sitting down to what might be a questionable meal. And by the looks of it, it was date night in Clichy. An old couple - apparently regulars - next to me. A middle-aged married couple who seemed to be having a make-up dinner across the dining room from me. A young, interracial couple - so obviously in love - across from me. With my place-setting for one.

I immediately ordered a bourbon. A big, fat tumbler of it to drown my sorrows.

As the distilled spirits made their way into my bloodstream, I looked around and smiled. It won't be long before my honey is here, and we can have date night every night. I hit the bottom of my glass and felt all warm and fuzzy. Then I ordered steak.

But first, the buffet. While not the most appealing spread ever, there were enough cold fish and meats and cheese to make any viking happy. I went straight for the vegetables.

Huh!?

In my scrimping and saving and scrounging, my stomach has shrank. And even though I stood before a Texas-sized spread of appetizers, I now have a French-sized appetite. I decorated my little plate with beets, lentil salad, tomato salad, some red radishes... all the hallmarks of some hippie vegan meal.

All the better. My meat arrived, a big, bloody hunk of rumpsteak, sitting atop a superheated marble-slab. Apparently, at Fire & Stone, your steak is always cooked to order. Because you cook it. I let it cook for about a minute on each side, and dove in. Nice and blue. A few minutes later, it was perfectly à point. Midway through, it was the American version of medium rare. Alas, I ate too slowly, enjoying my side of potatoes and abundant bread, and my last portion was criminally medium. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The price? Not including the bourbon and obligatory after-dinner coffee, €15.50. For the first time in a week, this expression entered my mind: Tremendous value.

If I ever get my American-sized appetite back, I'm coming back here to lay waste to the buffet. They're open for dinner from seven 'til midnight, meaning I can sit and stuff my face for five hours solid. But in the meantime, having a reasonable portion was enough to fill the gaping void inside of me.

3 comments:

  1. You're definitely taking me there if I ever make it over to Clichy. That place sounds awesome.

    I know how much it sucks to be a few thousand miles from The Spouse. It'll be over soon. Just not soon enough!

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  2. Mmmm, meat and bourbon! It sounds like you're making the best of the situation...not to worry, she'll be out there soon enough.

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  3. OMG - traiters asiatiques!!!

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