Though I complained at first about having to eat early to accommodate small aliens commonly known on this planet as “kids,” there are some certain benefits to eating dinner at 5 pm.
Apart from deep discounts for Senior Citizens and the Early Bird Special, getting together with my family for dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday on Saturday night at 5 pm in Orange County means I have to leave my house an hour-and-a-half earlier at 3:30 pm, even though it only takes 45 minutes to get to the restaurant because if we are one second, no, one nanosecond late, Dad will talk about it throughout the entire meal; but it also means that dinner on a Saturday night is over an hour-and-a-half later, by 7:30 pm, which gives me plenty of time to race back up to LA on a Saturday night to get home, blow out my hair, re-do my make-up and outfit from “parent-approved” to “club-ho chic,” and go out.
Yes! My Dad's birthday dinner at 5 pm means that Saturday night is still young enough to go out! Young enough to party it up like the rock star that I am!
Young enough to, you know, to blog.
Saturday night, y’all, and I was ready to go home, shed my “clean” jeans and conservative t-shirt, slip into my favorite blogging babydoll negligee, and write. In the car ride back, I could feel the juices pouring out of my fingers onto the keyboard. Juices. Baby, you best believe that it was going to happen.
Unfortunately, my favorite blogging babydoll negligee was in the hamper from the wild and crazy night before, so I had to settle for my flannel pajama bottoms and a boring little baby t-shirt. I pulled my hair back into a nappy knot. I put on my crooked, slightly distorted-out-of-shape glasses. I was suited up, goggled, ready to attack my creativity like the blogging demon soldier that I am. I sat down, woke up my laptop, and while it was revving its sparkling little engine, I leaned back in my chair, arched my back to stretch…
What the…? My phone was ringing. I ignored it. I was about to enter ‘The Zone.”
I can’t hear youuuu. Leave a meeeeesage.
Who the fuck has the audacity to call me as if I were actually home on a Saturday night at….??? Oh. It’s only 8 PM.
It was Mr. Early Retirement.
I could make this quick.
“Hey, how are you?” I purred. Gross. I hate when I do that.
“Bad. Really bad. Drunk.”
I rolled my eyes. He was slurring his speech and drunk-dialing me at 8 PM?! Who gets drunk by 8 PM?
“I got into a fight.”
“I think I have to go to the hospital. Get stitches or something…”
Ho. Lee. Shiitake. I shot up out of my desk chair.
"Where are you? I’m leaving in 30 seconds." I think he said “Doheny.” He was on the street. Oh, this was going to be rich.
The remainder of the conversation registered across my neurons but I don’t remember the details. I was a robot fueled by adrenaline. I tore through my house and grabbed the First Aid Kit that my Dad audits for expiration dates and updates with fresh supplies every year, yanked the towel from the rod over my sink, wrenched the ice packs from the two bottles of vodka they were protecting in the freezer, snatched my purse from the table and flew toward the front door.
I stopped. I cursed.
I was in my pajamas.
I turned around and ran back to my room, snapped up pair of jeans from the floor and threw a sweatshirt on over my t-shirt. I was in the car speeding down Wilshire Boulevard without knowing my final destination. I had stopped semi-hyper-ventilating and started chuckling. Mr. Early Retirement retired early in his 30s but is 40. Ish. Mr. Early Retirement was not only drunk, but drunk by 8 pm on a Saturday night. Mr. Early Retirement had gotten into a bar brawl that would require a possible hospital visit.
Men never grow up.
"I made it to Santa Monica Boulevard. I think I'm near La Cienega," he said breathlessly. I told him to start walking west.
"I think I'm near Fairfax." Didn't I tell him to walk west? I told him to find a place to sit down.
"I'm at O-Bar." I definitely said west, but I forgave him. He did say that a cocktail glass had been launched full-force at his head.
In a maneuver that would have ranked me on the NASCAR circuit, I flipped a u-turn on Santa Monica Boulevard in front of the restaurant, screeched to a halt in front of two pairs of gorgeous men (at least I would be getting eye candy out of this), and snatched the claim ticket from the valet's hand. Emergency response time for Delicious Rescue 911, 16 minutes.
I burst through the front door, where the hostess seemed to be waiting for me. I didn't bat an eyelash when she said my name and motioned for me to follow her. We walked through a corridor, turned a corner, and entered the bar area, split into two rooms.
O-Bar is beautiful inside -- and the interior decor isn't bad either! Kidding about the eye candy aside, you can't tell what O-Bar will be like from the outside, though the restaurant's name projected onto the ground out front is a hint. The interior lulls me back to the hazy days of partying in South Beach - I can't recall completely all the details since I was pretty focused on locating Mr. Early Retirement, but it feels "breezy."
The bump on his head was visible as soon as I spotted him sitting in a booth against the wall. Clearly, it had bled quite a bit, but he had cleaned it up before I got there. He was sunken down in the chair nursing a club soda. The mother hen in me sympathized, but I swatted her back inside. He owed me. I ordered a Ketel on the rocks and looked at the menu. He owed me big. I had already eaten dinner, but 5 pm in Orange County felt like three days ago. Though lobster grosses me out, I ordered the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese anyway because I wanted the macaroni and cheese part. So what if I pick the lobster out and waste it? I came to his rescue in 16 minutes. They don't call me a superhero for nothing.
It didn't take long for my order to come to the table, which is good if I had ordered a salad, but bad because it was lobster macaroni and cheese. If its arrival time made me cock my head, the shocking appearance of the mac and cheese on the plate snapped my head straght back up. Had the kitchen made Kraft Easy Mac white cheddar version, nuked it in the microwave oven, mixed in canned lobster and topped it with the blackened, burnt crumbs they cleaned out of the bottom of the toaster?! Shockingly ugly for the setting.
Unfortunately, the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese didn't suffer from the "great personality!" problem. It was ugly on the outside, and ugly on the inside. The crumbs didn't look burnt, they were burnt. The cheese/sauce was bland, as if they just decided to see how far they could stretch out the bechamel base. The pasta was overcooked. The only thing that was decent was the one thing that I don't particularly like and which was noticeably sparse from the dish: lobster.
But O-Bar is forgiven. Not forgotten - Delicious will forgive, but she never forgets - but forgiven, because when the server asked "How is everything?" and we answered honestly, he sent the manager over to our table. The manager was genuinely sorry and said that he would "take care of it" and "was there something else" he could bring us?
A Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae, natch.
The cookie sundae reminds me a lot of a dessert I had once at a pizza joint somewhere in Westwood. The dessert is a chocolate chip cookie is baked into a miniature cast iron skillet, and served piping hot with vanilla ice cream -- something like a fancy, plated version of Diddy Riese. It was exactly what Mr. Early Retirement needed -- something warm and comforting, if not for the aftermath of a bar brawl, at least for that miserable excuse for high-end mac and cheese. The cookie was good, the ice cream was good, but I had to watch every tiny bite that I took. Chocolate is Histamine Enemy Number One. We didn't have to go to the hospital for his head, but I would have had to for a serious allergy attack.
Bad mac n cheese with lobster. A dessert that gives me allergies.
That means Mr. Early Retirement still owes me.
8279 Santa Monica Blvd (between Sweetzer and Harper)
West Hollywood, CA 90046