So How Were the Potatoes? (2 cents)

This is restaurant week in Washington, DC. You get a three course lunch for $20.11, or a three course dinner for $35.11 (one penny more than last year, I presume). This is very worthwhile if you go to a normally high price restaurant, if you don’t mind spending $20 or $35 for lunch, and if you are very, very hungry.

Today, I had lunch with a friend at a new Italian restaurant in the 20036 zip code, which will remain nameless for the purpose of this note. This is not a restaurant review per se.

At this particular place, you had a choice of three first courses, three entrees, and two desserts.

I chose, as my first course, Spaghetti alla Chittara (spaghetti, cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, hot peppers and garlic bread crumbs): it was quite spicy, even more garlicky (yes, that is how you spell it), and drenched (understatement) and swimming (better description) in olive oil. The pasta was cooked just right. I’d give it a B; I ate about half of it.

For my entree, I chose the chicken parmigiana (I did not eat the cheese), a breaded chicken breast in a tomato sauce served with rapini. I’d give it a B, as well; I ate about 2/3 of it.

Bread was served. White, very fresh, hard crust, too generously dowsed with garlic and oil. I’d give it a B; I ate too much of it.

The desserts were either cannoli or tiramisu. I ate no dessert (the half order of spaghetti felt like more than enough food to me), and my friend took both desserts back to her office.

I topped off the meal with a single espresso. I’d give the espresso an A +. It was excellent.

So, how good was the restaurant? I’d give it a B, and wouldn’t hurry back. But I remember my father. My father used to think that it was too hard to judge a restaurant – it depended on what you ordered, how you felt, what was going on that day in the kitchen. All those things. But one thing, he thought, should be constant: a restaurant should be able to serve good coffee. No matter what the food tasted like, he judged a restaurant by its coffee. He would have given this particular place an A.

I always thought his method of restaurant reviewing was a bit off. I told him so more than once, but he stuck to it.

And then I met Jeanne Dixon. You may not remember Jeanne Dixon; she was a psychic and an astrologer, and quite prominent over the course of much of her 90 plus years. (If you don’t know who she is, Google her, or look her up on Wikipedia.)

In her spare time, when she was not astrologizing, she was a real estate agent, believe it or not. She and her husband had formed and operated a prominent Washington DC real estate company. My father’s first cousin, George J., worked for her for many years. And one day, in my lawyer role, I found myself engaged in a transaction where my client was selling a commercial building in DC, and Jeanne and George were the agents for the buyer. It was one of those real estate closings where everything gets done quickly, and you wait for hours and hours until the title company lets you know that, indeed, the deed has been recorded. We had hours to talk.

As George and I were discussing various family matters, somehow the question of my father’s ranking restaurants based on the taste of their coffee came up. George admitted that was a bit off the wall. But not Jeanne. She understood it very well. She did the same thing……almost.

Jeanne Dixon judged restaurants based on the variety, quality and taste of their potatoes. If you asked Jeanne Dixon if she had ever been to Restaurant X, she would say: “Restaurant X, wonderful baked potatoes”. How about Restaurant Y: “Ah, Restaurant Y. You should taste their potatoes au gratin”. And on and on.

I asked Jeanne Dixon if, as I psychic, she didn’t know how good a restaurant was before she went into it. She smiled, looked in my eyes, and said “Well………..”

The espresso was top quality


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