Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Find

Last night the Beefcake took me out to a sit down dinner. Very fancy except I was wearing yoga pants and he was in shorts. We headed for the Larchmont Grill but then decided it looked too fancy for yoga pants and shorts, so we walked across the street to a brand new seafood restaurant called The Village on Melrose (it's on Melrose) and looked over the menu. Standard city seafood prices - $15-$25 entrees - but the customers were mostly well dressed older folk so we started to walk down to Astroburger and go with our standard meal of veggie burger for me and belgian waffle for the Beefcake.

Just as we began heading down the street, a bald European man chased us down. The Village was a brand new restaurant he said, just open a month with two five star chefs, and if we came in he'd hook us up with a major deal on dinner.

Why the hell not?

This dude was so enthusiastic and nice and worked his ass off hopping from table to table. This is his best friend's place, he told us, and I'm assuming his best friend was the short guy who occasionally came out to stare at the progress before returning to the kitchen.

We ordered paella and lobster and shared it all between us. The European guy, whose name I forget even though he kissed my hand and told me his name about thirty times, forgot to get us bread but who gives a shit; we had paella and lobster and both were good and both were reasonably priced.

Here's the reason I'm writing about this because on a regular day a good meal at a new restaurant isn't blogworthy. The reason I'm writing about this is what started to happen as we waited for our meal. The Old People came.

When we arrived, an ancient lady was playing the shit out of a piano. She had a book of sheet music in front of her, but in the two hours or so we were there she never cracked it open and tore through song after song from memory. After we'd been there a little while, another old lady hopped up and grabbed a mic set up through a little amplifier and started singing opera. Then another old guy grabbed a guitar and he and the old singing lady wandered around from table to table performing.

These people weren't paid to be there. They just came to sing old songs together. Then they handed the mic over to anyone with interest in belting it out. The owner came out and serenaded us. Our excellent waiter did that one French opera song everybody knows but nobody knows the words to. Except he seemed to know the words.

We clapped, we laughed, we sang along. Old People just kept rolling in and it became clear that this had already become a regular hang out for the cast of a Cocoon remake. And to think, if that foreign man hadn't chased us down the block we would have eaten our usual veggie burger and waffle and gone home to watch TV. Instead we ate lobster and paella and cheered on the old folks in their little opera house. A customer sang "Mona Lisa Smile". Another customer got up and caterwauled some song nobody else but the piano player knew and everybody cheered her on. I seriously considered performing "I Don't Know How to Love Him" but wasn't sure I knew every word. I think we'll go back and when I do I'll go for it. Apparently they're up there every Friday and Saturday night.

One old lady said "You don't have to be good, just brave."

This is the kind of place where romantic comedies happen. Imagine if that had been our first date - what a great opportunity for a couple to fall in love over seafood. Or it could even be a story about old people falling in love for the first time over showtunes. These are the kinds of places you only find by accident, and they give you the best ideas.

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