Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eating out. Quinn's.

I stop at Quinn's Pub on my way home, taking a slightly different route that takes me past a huge salon that I'd never noticed before (training ground for another salon, I think) and some sort of restaurant/bar where what looks like a company party is in full swing. The pub has huge glass windows looking into the street, and steam has fogged them so the tables are barely visible in the dimly lighted room beyond. A girl leads me to a table - I told her someone might be joining me later, but I'm not holding my breath - and I think I know what I want (the burger), but the menu seduces me into indecision. Maybe I should have the gnocchi, or the clam chowder.

The waitress notices my indecision, and coaxes me into ordering the gnocchi instead of the burger, as I have already tried the burger. I have a book with me, but it is too dark in here to read it, and I give up after a few pages and turn to watch people walk by outside. The foggy windows look like modern art, streaks of condensation reminding me of some artist (whose name I forget) whose paintings were long drips of paint across canvas (no, not Jackson Pollock). Above my head are light fixtures (they are too cool to be chandeliers) made of giant clusters of light bulbs that cast a warm yellow glow over the room. Tonight it is not busy, or perhaps it gets busier later on in the evening. The hostess paces up and down the room, and it makes me nervous, or at least slightly self-conscious.

The gnocchi are served over a creamy sauce, with a tangle of braised oxtail topped with a crisp round of marrow. I remember Alan Richman writing that removing marrow from a piece of bone involved a procedure so disgusting he would not describe it. The oxtail is intensely rich and meaty against the softness of the gnocchi, and the marrow is so crisp and melting that I could care less how it was removed from its bone. (The couple a little to the left and behind me ask how the marrow is prepared, and I overhear their server telling them that it is dusted with flour and fried). I am sad when it is all gone, because there was not much of it, and I could have eaten more. So I order some cheese.

Tonight's cheese plate has the same Chimay and Wookey Hole Cheddar as the last time, and a new Sally Jackson cheese. Sheep, I think; it's too mild to be goat, but I could be wrong. The accompanying apricot preserves are all the sweetness I need to end my meal; no crême brulée or apple tart or chocolate cake tonight. Perhaps another time. I'll be back soon.

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