dress, bracelet: H&M
necklace: The Limited
lipstick: "Rich" by Covergirl
I didn't even get a shot of the back of this dress, but it's the zipper-all-the-way-down-the-back one from Friday's clothes budget post. Matt got all decked out in his gray suit, in which he looks fine as hell, but like I said, I didn't get a shot :( The following pics don't even do the food justice, because the restaurant was pretty dim and I didn't want to use the flash on my phone...discretion seemed prudent there.
When I made the reservation earlier in the week, they asked if it was for a special occasion. I told them and didn't think much of it...until we got to the restaurant (it's The Refectory in Upper Arlington, for you Columbus-ites) and the host — or rather, maître d'...this is a fancy French restaurant — wished us happy anniversary. As did the woman who walked us to our table. And our waiter. And when we opened out menus, this greeted us:
Pardon my French, but that is some fine fucking service. We've never really eaten at a five-star, fine dining restaurant before. And the service at places like that is just out of this world and completely unlike anything else I've ever experienced. They put my napkin in my lap for me. I don't know why I find that so noteworthy, but I do. And when I got up to use the restroom? They re-folded it and put it back on the table. There was a guy whose sole job was to dish out bread, deliver drinks and scrape the crumbs off our table with a little scooper thing in between courses. Fancy. As. Hell. The waiter was also super patient when I couldn't decide between three dishes, and helped me pick out wines as well. (One of them, a house Muscat-Viognier blend, was so good that I'm now on a hunt to find a few bottles to keep at home.)
So anyway, then we got to the food. We split a special appetizer for the evening. I don't know what it was called, but it had three kinds of fish and shrimp and veggies and all sorts of other deliciousness, wrapped up in a puff pastry. I've never tasted anything like it. I even ate the mushrooms in that dish, which for me is a HUGE deal. I don't eat fungi. But oh man. It was that good.
Then was the soup/salad course. Matt got a Caesar salad, and I got this mussel soup, and we switched off. I could have picked that soup bowl up by the little lion-face handles and drank it all in one gulp. But I didn't, because I am a classy lady. Sort of. It didn't photograph very well (cream-based soups rarely do), but here's that sweet lion face:
Then came the main course. Uh. Muh. Guhd. Matt got filet mignon, of course, and I got lamb tenderloin. Both were just incredible. The steak especially was phenomenal; it was cooked perfectly and practically melted in your mouth.
And then, dessert. Oh, desert. So by the time we finished the main course, we'd been at the restaurant for about two and a half hours and we were so full, I thought they'd have to roll us out the door. I asked the waiter if the crème brûlée was worth overstuffing ourselves and he swore it was. He was not lying. There's even a story about how this crème brûlée came to be, which the waiter was kind enough to tell us as we ate. (Dessert and a story? I love stories! So great.)
Long story short: The Refectory's chef, Richard Blondin, studied under one of the great French cuisine masters of the 20th century. (I was too wine- and food-filled to catch the name.) So this master had a really great crème brûlée at an Italian restaurant of all places, and was inspired to really perfect the dish on his own. He worked on it for years, finally coming up with the right process of baking and cooling and cooking. And Chef Blondin was able to take that recipe with him to The Refectory. You guys, we were told this was among the best crème brûlées in the country and THEY WERE NOT LYING. I have half a mind to make more frequent reservations there just to eat dessert. And the best part is, the waiter brought out a little complementary pour of a dessert wine to pair with it — an orange muscato that was pretty much to die for. I never really understood wine/food pairings until I ate that dessert with that wine.
Our original post-dinner plans had been to go home and change, then go catch a late showing of Jurassic Park in 3D, because nothing says classy date night like 3D dinosaurs. But when we got home, we simply collapsed into bed. True food coma. It helped that it was 10 by the time we got home, which is our normal old-person bedtime anyway, haha.
So there you have it. The story of the best dinner of my life, and how a new anniversary tradition was born. Because Matt's already informed me that this has to be a recurring locale for our celebration :)