A shorter chapter this time that’s really just here to set up some events later in the story. There’s a bit of character development and some (hopefully) funny lines, but I’m concerned it might come across as some otherwise-purposeless exposition.
As always, your comments are appreciated.
My favorite restaurant at the time was an upscale bistro-style place not far from my apartment.
When I arrived, I saw that Carly was already sitting at the bar. I wasn’t late or anything – I guess she just liked to be early for things.
She complimented me on the sweater I was wearing, so I launched into the story of the day I bought it – you know, to break the ice. In retrospect, I suppose I could instead have returned the compliment and asked her about her day. Did I mention I’m not very good with women?
Anyway, the bartender was great and, though he was a little over the top, he kept us laughing enough that we decided to eat dinner at the bar rather than go to our table when it was ready. We chatted back and forth with him about the menu and he helped set us up with nice, three-course meals combining items from their regular menu and the evening’s specials. I’m really into food but Carly had no trouble keeping up with the obscure cooking terms the bartender and I were throwing around. Nothing turns me on like a woman who knows the origin of confit.
This place had the best cocktail list in the city, and I didn’t let it go to waste. By the time our appetizers arrived I had polished off four drinks. The alcohol loosened me up a lot, and we actually started to have some decent conversation.
During our first course – an amazing little lobster broth with foie gras – I finally got around to asking Carly a few questions about herself. Turns out she was raised in the area, she had a big family, she went to college in the States and she had been back in Vancouver for a little over a year. I got the sense that human resources was not really her passion, but she didn’t really talk much about personal interests.
My main course was a stunning presentation of veal cheeks with slightly crispy potato cakes. The chef had managed to perfectly balance the textures and flavours of the dish while avoiding too much salt (which could have been an issue with the combination of ingredients). In retrospect again, referring to the veal cheeks as “baby cow face” may not have been the smartest move on a first date, but Carly took it in stride.
We finished a nice bottle of wine with dinner and topped it off with white-chocolate creme brulee and ice wine for dessert. Carly seemed to handle the alcohol easily – or at least she hid it well if it was affecting her.
The bartender’s best line of the night came with the cheque. We’d declined his last two offers of more drinks, so the next time he came around, he had the cheque ready. Carly complimented him on his observational skills and he replied, “if there’s one thing I always know, it’s when a beautiful woman is ready to leave me.”
I suppose that’s one more thing bartenders are better at than me.