Thursday, October 13, 2011

Author's Eating.

Walking into Superfine I was disoriented and thrown off balance. Perhaps it was the change in sounds. I had just been sitting underneath the Manhattan Bridge, with its subway-car clanging cacophony to inside the Muzak filled restaurant. Only it's not Muzak. It's Beck. Early Beck. "What's with the early 90's music," Mike asked. "I know, it's like I'm in a hipster version of TGIFridays." To add to my disorientation the restaurant had seemingly endless levels and ramps, a multitude of tables to sit at, each with a different set of chairs and an empty fullness that reminded me of the bleachers at a friday night basketball game at my losing high school. The waiter pointed out at least six different tables we could sit at, none of them looked just right and when I asked to sit at one I do like he said, "No, not that one."

Sitting across from the seminal* writer, Mike S., I was a bit tongue tied. I didn't know where to start, what to say first, what to share, or in my case, overshare. We hadn't seen each other in a few years and we hadn't lived in the same town in at least ten years, probably more. I'm getting to an age where years fly by like minutes and keeping track of them is a losing battle so I'm going to let the accounting sit at ten years.

Before we rushed to fill the void with catch up banter we decided to look at the menu and get our order in. In further TGIFridayness the menu is done on a white dry-erase board with the days specials, about twelve choices in total--they read like an outdated cafe menu in a small midwest town. You know what I'm talking' about: chicken panini, portobello sandwich (for the vegetarian of course), grilled steak sandwich, fusili pasta and a garden salad. In a city dense with 5-star restaurants Zagat'd, Yelp'd and Michelen'd up the ying yang it's a wonder this place even exists: a comfortable place with semi-decent bar food in a hipster Brooklyn enclave underneath two bridges.

I'm here to see Mike--first up in my "Author's Eating" series (Thank you Mike) where I break bread with a writer, ask some questions and learn a little something about them. It's a writer meets food meltdown. Mike requested not to be featured as my first sandwich, claiming that he's not actually "published" but I say phooey to that flim-flam. But to honor his request, let's consider this a beta edible post.

Reminiscing about old friends, past apartments and new jobs we quickly lost track of time. When our lunches showed up we took a moment to lift food to mouth. Mike's plate had a tangled mound of softly browned, long skinny fries sitting next to a chicken sandwich--chicken nestled into a plain white italian roll. I hoped there was something else between those slices but my critical eye forgot to tell my sarcastic mouth to ask.

Looking down I noticed my tomato soup and garden salad. The soup looked good--I tasted it. It was vegan, almost, which meant it was boring, almost. Almost save for a raft of gorgonzola floating on the top. It tasted like fresh tomato sauce. From a can. The salad fared better to my taste buds. I quickly forked up a bite of the farm fresh greens and was greeted with just the right touch of lemon, olive oil and s & p. It was so good but so small, I wanted to order three more plates.

And we're back to Mike. He's telling me about his eighteen-month son Cole. It's a not so complicated, adorable story whose punchline is that now Cole points to a darkened TV and asks "Tennis?" along with a hand motion Mike taught him, as if he's batting a ball back and forth and a soft little "Pshew" escaping his little kid lips.

"So, tell me about your biggest tagline," I asked Mike, who works for a fancy nameless agency nearby. "Oh, well, that was something I did with my favorite Brazilian Creative Director. A tag that included absolutely no copy. Just a heart. An equals sign. And a soccer ball. It was for Puma during World Cup. "I like," I said.

Trying hard to eat my lunch slow, one leaf at a time, I tried to stretch out my meal, but soon I'm done while Mike delicately finished his sandwich, squeezing it gently, lest the chicken slide out, between thumb and forefingers, pinky finger up. Looking at him, looking at his plate, he spins the plate so the fries point towards me. "Want some?" Of course I do. They're not good but I'm still hungry and they're fries. You don't argue with fries.

Wrapping up our lunch I'd like to close out this beta issue of Author's Eating with my ratings:
Conversation: 9
Company: 10
Food: 4.5
Atmosphere: 5
Writers Craft: 2 (I need to ask more questions next time)

Thanks for joining me Mike.

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