I will not pretend that it was all fine; Dinner last night sucked
Seeing old friends is nice. Especially when said nice friends are low-key, go with the flow types. However this worked to the disadvantage of Croftie and Myself last evening. My friend, let's call him Bradbury for perfectly unnecessary anonymity's sake, is in town for three days. Bradbury lives and works in Jolly Old, and his stateside adventures have mostly been in the NYC. His girlfriend has friends (family?) here in town and as such I was happy to receive a tangential visit. To catch up. All that. It's been a while. etc.
Dinner plans were made, actually made (as opposed to imagined--see previous post) for Thursday evening. When i got out of work I was told Bradbury would call me when they were going to have dinner, that it was going to be at "some Spanish restaurant in River North." Almost immediately I knew which place this was. I shall keep it un-named since I am not in the business of (openly) defaming people or places (but if you read between the lines the disguise is flimsy at best). Needless to say I'd been there before and had very mixed experiences. A mutual friend of us Crofts with a penchant for planning big dinner get-togethers (and whose target restaurants have reliably stunk) once led us all here and it was fine. rather expensive, for a college kid, but fine.
Last night however...
First off, we had to wait. and wait and wait. for. ever. For seemingly no better reason than to make the place in question appear more in demand that it should be. Waiting around late at night can make one cranky, but that was not the case with all of us, well, most of us. Bradbury, and us Crofts are all laid-back types, and i was busy catching up, and even Croftie, thrown to the wolves (while i was catching up with my friend), didn't seem to be fairing too badly. Later I learned this wasn't quite true, but all in all the evening was still salvageable.
Yet the restaurant was really loud. Think elementary school cafeteria with stereo speakers mounted in the corners focusing all the rambunctious kids to holler even louder). The food was meh. and kinda greasy. The waitress was trying very hard to push drinks over and over. And sketchy things like not telling us that when we asked for water, we were going to get bottled water, until one of our party astutely looked around and saw you had to ASK for tap water if you didn't want to pay for it.
The worst part was that when we got the check and collected the money and gave the bill to the waitress we were told we had put in a $20 too little. This was an absolute impossibility. The check split equally between all of us amounted to a $20 each. We all watched everyone put down a $20. And Bradbury counted the total before closing the billfold. Impossible. And yet... Now I suppose it was possible that a bill fell out on the way to the register, and that somebody saw it and snatched it. But there is as much proof for this as there is simple disingenuousness from the waitress. It made me quite angry. But we all re-upped and hurriedly walked out.
Part of the problem of the evening was Bradbury (and by extension, us Crofts) are so willing to go with whatever dominant personality is organizing things. The friends he was staying with are new to Chicago. But very... strong willed and opinionated. This restaurant was simply the best tapas in the city, even though every online review site disagrees, and so do most of us Chicagoans (no problem giving shout outs tho, go to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! Bates and dacon!). This place is newbie/tourist/hipster hell. But we simply had to go there.
It quickly became clear that the organizer behind all this (the Demander) was a particularly... difficult person. Over the evening's conversation I learned his thoughts on eating meat, buying diamonds, dubya, the us economy, american's erroneous assumptions of everything asian, why NYC sucks (there i happen to agree), contemporary architecture, on and on. So i did what any sensible Pirate would do. Ate a bunch of pork. Discussed my engagement ring hunting. and defended (defended!?) a few of the president's policies (such as not pulling out of Iraq right away). To sum things up (and this is horrible, just horrible, and I am a horrible person for doing this) you can get a good first impression of this guy from his dazzling well-crafted facial hair which looks like Robert Downey Jr's in the upcoming Iron Man film (minus some of the beard, but retaining 'stache and soul-patch).