The Date of Amontillado
by Jordan Robinson
I spent last summer driving across America -- alone. So the first thing I
did when I got back into town was ask out this girl I met at an outdoor Oyster
Fest in the East Village.
"You're the boy," Oyster Girl says when I call her, "so you
pick the restaurant."
Still suffering from the summer's dining hangover consisting of equal parts
roadside barbeque, truck stop diner, and Cracker Barrel, I realize that I must
try to acclimate to the urban dating and dining scene all in one fell swoop.
I take her to Il Buco, not really a shellfish establishment, rather
antique store by day, mediterranean restaurant by night. Well -- at least it
used to be, until the antique store gave way, leaving the charming rustic
ambiance of a Tuscan farmhouse. Many antiques are actually still for sale, so in
theory, you can walk out with a pleasantly full stomach and a cool old watering can.
I escort her down cobblestoned Bond Street and we duck into number 47, allowing
our eyes to adjust to the warm glow of candlelight.
The host whisks us off to an oyster-sized table tucked away in back by
the kitchen, and we ensconce ourselves in our own little first-date world.
"Yummm!" coos Oyster Girl as she scans the dizzying menu
of small tasting-sized dishes drawn from the countrysides of Spain and Italy.
"Can we order it all?" I concur in principle, not having gotten as
far as actually looking at the menu -- or even the wine list, I realize, as
the waiter returns for our drink order. I ask for a recommendation. Turns out
that the Dolcetta d'Alba our waiter suggests is far and away my favorite Italian
wine -- would have been my pick, too, had I managed to turn my gaze from my date's
baby blues to Il Buco's whites and reds.
Now we consider the menu in earnest. It seems designed for sharing -- not
just food, but experiences. It begins to draw out our stories of living and
traveling in Spain and Italy. She starts to reveal to me her crustacean-riddled
past; I amuse her with anecdotes from my recent travels across zen America.
While we do not in fact end up ordering everything, we make a respectable showing,
and food begins to emerge from the nearby kitchen.
First we snack on plates of woody, garlicky olives, followed by tender grilled
baby octopus and a refreshing salad of frisee, roasted beets, and fresh pears.
We cannot pass up the earthy portobello mushrooms before -- when time comes to order
the entrees -- putting our palates in our waiter's hands.
Good call. He presents with a flourish an enormous platter of salt cod baked
whole with braised fennel, as well as a steaming bowl of wide ribbon-like sheets
of pasta swimming with morel mushrooms and sage. We are caught up in the flavors,
the candlelight, the Date.
My date looks up from her plate. "I never want to stop eating this!"
she proclaims, valiantly attacking a tasty marriage (did I say "marriage?")
of manchego cheese and honeycomb. This seems promising, I think.
As does this: "The restaurant's haunted, you know," confides our waiter.
"Come visit the cellar when you're done."
By now, I am won over. By our mind-reading waiter, who revealed to us the kitchen's
best surprises. By the romantic prospect of visiting a haunted wine cellar. And by
Oyster Girl, who seems to enjoy food, wine and -- by extension, in my flawed short-hand
calculus of first dates -- life.
We finish our meal, grab some candles, and venture down the creaky steps.
"It is here," whispers our host, "that Edgar Allan Poe penned
'The Cask of Amontillado!'" My date and I reach for each other's hands
and note the nearest exit. I mean, things are going great, but I'm not quite
ready to be bricked into a forgotten wine celler together for eternity.
"Are you married?" asks the host, blocking the stairs, his face
luminescent in the candle's glow. "Uh . . . yes," I say, not sure
whether this means there'll be a second date, or whether there's no escape.
"We're from . . . Iowa," I blurt out -- still lying, trying to divert
his attention. My date kicks me. "Sure. Iowa, you know -- corn, caucuses,
Des Moines." Somehow, this does the trick, as we are soon donning our coats
and breathing in the crisp air of an early Autumn night.
As for Oyster Girl and me, I don't know, maybe this place scared the first
date jitters out of us. Because we did go on a second date after that, and a
third. And you know what? I guess my calculus added up after all. It turns
out she really does enjoy life. And the city is our oyster.
Jordan Robinson was not the least bit scared in the wine cellar. Really.
47 Bond Street
New York City
M-Th 6 pm - Midnight, F-Sa 6pm - 1am, Su 5pm - 11 pm
No credit cards
Back to Main To Do Page
| Next Date