all about the salad
Friday, January 23 2004
I was back at WKZE in Sharon, Connecticut again today, mostly there to pull ethernet through the basement. Whenever I do this kind of work, I have to quickly get up to speed on the geometry of the building I'm working in. In today's case, I was confronted with an unusual pattern of basement walls, all of them stone, as well as sections of basement that were unreachable. There was a weird air in WKZE today. Everybody seemed kind of, well, distracted.
Having finally figured out the shortest route to Sharon, I timed my ride back home. It took me an hour to get back to the local Staples. Something was wrong with the heating system in Staples and all the cashiers were running little electric heaters.
In the evening Gretchen and I went out to eat at Stella's, the Italian restaurant in Uptown Kingston. I'd joked about getting a reservation before we left, but there really was a line of people waiting to be seated when we arrived, so we had drink at the bar for awhile. We liked the bartender - he seemed like such a nice guy, a grey-haired father figure type, the kind who gets you drunk.
The big attraction at Stella's is the salad. It's pretty simple: romaine lettuce smothered with a dressing of oil, garlic, and and a cheese that may or may not be blue cheese. We were horrified to see people not eating their salad (which comes as a free course with every meal), and we expressed this horror to our waitress. It turned out that she was the one who actually prepared the salad, and (per our request) she got an especially big bowl of it.
In addition to the salad, every table gets a basket of bread with a bean dip. It's hard to say what is so wonderful about the bean dip, since it tastes and looks a little like spackle. Perhaps it's the service, the people darting out of the kitchen with something delicious to snack on while you're waiting for your entree. Whatever it was, I said to Gretchen, "this place is terribly underrated."
But then our entrees came out. It's amazing that a restaurant that can make such delicious salad can so completely drop the ball when it comes to a dinner plate. My dinner featured chicken and shrimp, and though the chicken was delicious, the shrimp had a horse barn quality I haven't experienced since dining in that really terrible chain of park restaurants in South Africa. My food was served on a bed of pasta (this was per my request), but the integration of the pasta with the rest of the dish was nonexistent. It desperately needed sauce. Meanwhile Gretchen was choking down her ravioli. I've never in my life seen anyone fail to eat all their ravioli, but Gretchen stopped eating with two still left on her plate.
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