I can count on one finger the number of times I've eaten in a restaurant that can cook better than Mark. The only reason I ever agree to go out for dinner is to give Mark a break from cooking and because I know there will be wine involved. For the last couple of years or so Mark has cooked me Valentine's Day dinner. The good thing about that is I know I'll get good food, and I don't have to get all dressed up. The minimal requirement is that I not show up in my underwear at the dinner table. The bad thing about it is that instead of spending money taking Mark out to dinner, I have to make an effort to find a nice card, some flowers, and a box of candy. It's so much easier to make reservations. Saturday night we had reservations at a place where we had eaten before. It had been a very good experience, so I figured I couldn't go wrong with a nice Valentine's Day dinner there. Unfortunately, restaurant owners look on Valentine's Day as open season on your wallet.
"I'd like to make reservations for two on Saturday."
"Certainly sir. That is Valentine's Day, and we will be having two seatings that evening, six and eight thirty."
"Okay, that's fine with me. I'll take the six o'clock seating." I said, knowing that if I didn't have some food in me, I'd be drunk by eight thirty.
"We won't be serving our regular menu on Valentine's Day and the price is fifty dollars per person. Wine is not included."
I was not surprised that they would be charging nearly double what it had cost the last time we ate there. It was Valentine's Day and I realized that restaurant reservations were at a premium. So last Saturday, at six in the evening, Mark and I showed up at the very nice Spanish restaurant. The last time we ate there Mark and I had been very happy with the food and the service. For Valentine's Day, the service was still very good. The problem was the food. The appetizer plate that was advertised as having prosciutto, Spanish sausage, olives, and cheese, was served. They did not lie, it did have the above mentioned ingredients. It had six little slivers of prosciutto, four little bites of cheese, eight pieces of sausage sliced so thin you could read through them, and three tiny olives. There was so much porcelain visible between the meager portions that I thought maybe most of it had fallen off between the kitchen and the table. When the main course came out I couldn't figure out if the plates were really big, or the portions were half of what they had been the last time we were there. So I pulled a quarter out of my pocket and held it next to the food as a frame of reference. No, the plates were no bigger than before. The same held true for the desserts, again half the size as what we had the previous visit. Now I understand, restaurants have to make money when and where they can. Valentine's Day is one of those easy money days along with New Years. I can live with tiny portions of food on my plate, I can take a dessert that is gone in one swallow. What really pissed me off, what I truly couldn't deal with, was the thirty five dollar bottle of wine. I did not know that wine came in bottles smaller than 750ml.