Sunday, May 25, 2008

Not Your Average Practically Joe

“Joe, let’s not cook tonight?”
My wife and I felt like going out for dinner the other night.
We decided on a place called “Not Your Average Joe’s”
On their website, NYAJ’s describes themselves as creative, casual, cuisine.
They go on to say that if you like creative dishes that are innovated and unique; enjoy coming to a restaurant dressed as you are even though the food is worth dressing up for, and like the idea that they have cuisine (meaning they apply high standards of culinary art to everything they make) ... well then you should eat here. They add … if this restaurant sounds like your kind of place then, just like the others who go there, you are not your average Joe. Hey, that was clever. But, what if I’m “Practically Joe”?
We went because they invited us over for fancy looking dishes and blue jean cuisine. Besides, it’s on the way to our daughter’s house where we planned to stop later after having a bite to eat.
But tonight’s dining experience will be a little weird for me … here’s how it unfolds.
“We should of called ahead, I hope we don’t have to wait.”
Here we go. I named a dozen other places on the way, as we were 10 minutes into the 25-minute drive, even though I knew it didn’t matter. I was just covering my bases. We pull into the parking lot she says …
“Look at all the people hanging around, there’s a long wait, you go in and find out how long the wait is.”
I squashed this suggestion by parking in the furthest space from the door I could find and then saying ... “Don’t make me have to walk all the way there and back, just come with me now, I’m sure it not too long a wait.” Translation … a beer or two while waiting and the time will fly by.
“I’m really hungry, I wish it wasn’t so long a wait, where’s the beeper?”I answer, “We can go somewhere else (knowing she’s here to stay but I have to cover my bases), it won’t be that long and the beeper’s in my pocket (okay, so I like it when it vibrates), lets have a drink.”
I can bet on what comes next (it’s a 50-50 shot). She’s reading the drink menu and barely audibly talking to herself … “margarita? … martini? … what’s a mojito?? … wine? … hmmm, a wine-spritzer? … don’t see that on here …”, then … (I should of bet because I know her so well) …
“I’ll just have a Bud Light bottle … no glass.”
She always emphasizes the “no glass” … and she’ll send the glass back if one is accidently delivered. I just love her. Then, on to the next predictable topic of conversation as we wait …
“Let’s look at a menu so we’ll be ready to order when we’re seated.”
This is actually a great idea … if it worked. We both went through the entire menu changing our minds over and over again until we finally decided. Later, when ordering our meals, she will definitely change her mind on the spot and order some type of salad. I will not be upstaged and order something else as well (just to show her I can do it too) but of course I’ll most likely order something I really didn’t want and regret it through the entire meal … She’s definitely better at that than I am.
We are finally buzzed (oh, what a nice surprise, this feels good) …
“Joe, what’s with the stupid look? Is that buzzing coming you’re your pocket?”
So the hostess finally leads us to our table and this is when it becomes a bit weird. I hope you can clearly envision this. The section we were led to was the type where there is a long wall with cushioned seats with a bunch of two-top tables running along it with a chair across the table for the other diner ... sort of like what’s shown in the picture, only this bench curved at the end making it a two-cushioned seating arrangement with a chair option. Being “practically” a gentleman, I offer her the cushioned seat as usual but then … my wife, seizing an opportunity, suggests …
“Joe, sit here next to me, on the cushioned bench.” Kind of perplexed, I reluctantly agreed and awkwardly sat at the curved section, next to her. Big mistake! I immediately became uncomfortable, not physically, my butt was happy, but mentally uncomfortable like “oh-oh” uncomfortable. The hostess, smiling at how cute we were sitting so close says, “let me remove this chair to give you more leg room. I now saw my only escape route being carried away. I am now feeling like I’m sitting at the head of a really long dining room table with a dozen or so unfamiliar guests focusing in on me.
Noticing me looking like a deer caught in headlights, she asks …
“Honey, what’s wrong, don’t you want to sit next to me?”
Barely hearing her ask, all I can see is this … Then five silent seconds go by and a fellow at the next table (2 feet away) asks … “Have you been here before? Try the steak tips they’re really good. Where are you guys from?” … Then my wife …
“Oh, we’re from Peabody, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
All the while, the others diners down the line studied me for reactions, as they chewed, chuckled and I sincerely think … felt for me (again, as they chuckled.)
Finally, when the conversation with the next table became a little uncomfortable even for her, she turns to me and seeing me staring daggers at her, she innocently asks …
From there we argue back and forth, me trying to understand why she, all of a sudden, wants me next to her instead of across from her … and she, continually suggesting that I go look for my friggin’ chair … and them (our dining guests), still looking down the table at me, now whispering while covering their mouths so I can’t read their lips … I stand up and say …
“That’s it! I'm sorry dear. I’ll be right back, I need to find my chair, I can’t enjoy my meal if I can’t look into your beautiful eyes.”
“Oh honey, that’s so sweet. Hurry back.”
Yep, as soon as all our guests get up and leave.


Anonymous said...

I despise that style seating. I'm not sure what is worse though......the wall bench/chair set up, or the free floating tables with surrounding chairs in the middle of the floor?

I'm a booth guy. Always have been.

If you weren't crazy about the seating , I would also avoid Joe's Bar and Grille in Peabody.

It must be a Joe thing.

Actually, Cheesecake factory offers this as well.

Do I eat out too much?

PracticallyJoe said...

"Actually, Cheesecake factory offers this as well." ... We went to the Factory a few weeks ago and we did sit in the same type of seat ... but at least that time I wasn't on the end looking down the line.

I'm guessing you're from around here ... Have you ever eaten at the Wardhurst ... I've been thinking about trying it.

Malicious Intent said...

OH I hate restaurants that seat folks like that. You go out to have a quiet dinner alone, and suddenly you are having a quiet dinner with 30 other strangers. I despise that, especially when you pay so much to go out anymore. If we go to a place that seats us in a fashion to invades our privacy, I simply say we will wait for a more appropriate seat and if you didn't notice "we came alone and want to stay that way."

Bad enough you have to endure that on a plane, I am not doing that at dinner! Hope the food was at least good and you enjoyed your meal, a little bit.

PracticallyJoe said...

You know what, Malicious ... It really wasn't about the food ... I really enjoy going out with Domenica ... she always makes me laugh ... and sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out!

Mr. Tent Trash said...

wow.... quite the adventure....

Anonymous said...

Wardhurst has great food. Service is lacking, but food is awesome. They have an underground following in the Greek community.

Steak is great there.

Michele said...

Oh that's funny! I know how you feel too. My husband likes to sit next to be when we eat, and while I like it, cause it's cute, it does make for an odd dining experience when you and the other diners are just staring at each other. I'm a little self conscience that way!

Love the blog btw, I found you over on Mooooog's mental poo. :)

Vyolet said...

Quinn and I have debated this one. I am a homebody but every now and again we go out. I like to sit with my back to most of the room because I am so self conscious.
Quinn likes to sit acroos from me, not for my eyes though... so he can play footsies!
We only sit next to each other if we are in the car eating take out... or on the couch or in bed atching a movie and piging out.
I'm infatuated with your blog!