Body, Home, Street

A C Note

We asked for it so I can’t complain. We dined out to celebrate. It would so kill the mood to ask what’s an add-on and what comes-with on each and every item, so we didn’t. Boy, did I pay for it.

Here is a caution to near-vegans and vegans, like My Beloved and me.

All the pasta/risotto dishes on the single-page summer menu of this popular Fayetteville restaurant are under $20 except for the $24 seafood risotto. Even the beef, pork and poultry pastas are $18-$19.

No main dish, except the portobello lasagna, is ovo-lacto vegetarian, but the servers eagerly assured us how accommodating the chef is. We like to hear that. (All the salads had cheese on them, also.)

Off the menu, we were advised, is their capellini pomodoro, angel hair with a basic tomato and garlic sauce. OK, we’ll each have one. We’d like some vegetables, so “pick any you see on the other dishes.” OK, how about broccolini, asparagus and shiitakes? Sounds good, sir. When asked if I want those mixed into the sauce I say no, on the side is fine, thinking both less work in the kitchen and that the broccolini would not “work” in a simple red sauce.

Blame me for assuming, but because all the “menu’d” pastas included a variety of produce I was sure ours would be priced comparatively. Neither the new server nor her trainer told us differently.

What we got was delicious, don’t get me wrong. The amount of pasta was perfect, not too big a serving. The vegetables were grilled and crisp-tender — 4-5 broccolini, 6 asparagus and 5-6 mushrooms each.

Comes the bill: $40 for the two pastas and $15 for both sets of greens. Add about $15 for a salad apiece — hold the cheese on mine — and about $15 for one cocktail each, and with tax and tip we just enjoyed a hundred-dollar-plus dinner on Dickson Street.

If you’re a health-conscious eater yet on a budget and want fine dining for a special occasion, sorry but you are going to have to grill the wait staff, never mind embarrassing your companion, wrecking the intimate celebratory conversation and making yourself look picayune. At comparable restaurants, this should have been $60 maybe $70. Yet I caved.

It’s a fact the meats are the biggest cost on a menu. I have come to avoid ordering meat entrees that include great sides and request dropping the meat, because 95 percent of the time I am told the restaurant’s computer won’t allow reducing the price accordingly. Happened at this joint, too, when MB asked about the tuna entree, whose sides would be a meal to themselves.

Maybe next time I will try the following to minimize awkwardness: At the start of ordering I will ask the server: Please give the price on each and every food you recite to me.

I need only say this once, right?

• • •

Here’s a question, a couple of days after the fact. Why did the server always stand by my wife? Why didn’t she (either of them) move to my side of the table when it was my turn so I wouldn’t have to talk past her head? It did seem rude at the time.

Was it to … ? No, that’s just paranoid.

Come to think of it, the diced tomatoes in the pomodoro came from a can. MB’s mint julep so tasted like cough syrup that she asked for more soda water to dilute it and still couldn’t finish it. Her orange spinach salad (hold the bacon) had precisely four segments from a mandarin or clementine, each holding a corner of the square plate.

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