The affair with Charlie Palmer (no relation) all started at the Salvation Army fund-raiser. I guess I should clarify that — when I say “affair,” I mean evening out. Not the full-blown affair, please understand.
I had never met Charlie Palmer, although had heard of him through my friend Jean. Charlie Palmer is a steakhouse. A very upscale steakhouse, not one that I would be likely to frequent. At the fund-raiser there was a drawing for a gift certificate to Charlie’s steakhouse. And I won it! $150 which, I was assured, would just about cover dinner with wine and a tip. For one. Oh. So I went on Charlie’s website and discovered, yep, $150 was probably about right. BUT — there is something called the “Cut of the Week,” a three course fixed-price dinner for $58. That’s more like it. AND it includes wine pairings. Oh, yes, we can definitely do this.
As it turned out Jean would be visiting in January. She would love this. We invited our friend Lois to join us. So we made the reservation, put on our glad rags, and hied ourselves down to the Four Seasons (did I mention it was at the Four Seasons?).
The dinner that night was spinach salad, a petite New York Strip, Creme Brulee for dessert and wine using a “bottomless wine glass.” We started with a lovely Argentinian Torrentes which lingered on the palate with a smooth finish of slightly sweet lemon. The red was a Merlot blend from Northern California – a decent wine which we would categorize as a “Wednesday night wine.” You know, something you open for yourself in the middle of the week and not feel guilty about. Not the high-end wines you save to analyze and enjoy with friends, but perfectly good
But let’s back up. Even before the salads were on the table, the wine pourer came by and she poured — oh, my word she poured! — wine into the glasses. Not the usual couple of ounces one expects at a pricey restaurant. No sirree. This gal meant business. Half a glass at least. We all swirled, sniffed, sipped and savored. (No spitting!) Niiiice. Then the salads arrived. Spinach with chopped egg, nuts and a light vinaigrette. Perfect with a light white. We continued to sip and savor as we chatted and munched. And then there was that bottomless glass of wine. The waiter would occasionally slide by and unobtrusively replace whatever had been consumed. It worked well. Too well, perhaps. Especially for Lois who was sitting where the waiter approached from the back and slightly to the side so she couldn’t easily see him. He would replenish the wine and we would continue to sip and like the widow’s cruse of oil in the Bible, the level never went down. At one point Lois looked at the glass as though somewhat puzzled and I wondered if I should clue her in. But nah, where would be the fun in that?
And then the steaks came. May I just tell you that by Charlie Palmer’s definition, I would be petite. My doctor’s scale would not agree, but gotta say, this steak was definitely good sized. And good. Oh, my yes. And while the white wine glasses were whisked away, the “bottomless” red wine glasses remained with the promise of more — much more — to come.
At this point it gets a little hazy. There was dessert. There was the offer of coffee — and why would one want to ruin a perfectly good buzz? — and there was the offer of a “bit more wine.” Oh no. It was enough — more than enough. And it was good!
Lois’ husband came and gathered us all up and drove us home. We were happy. A good evening, good food and good friends. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you Charlie Palmer and thank you, Salvation Army. Save us a place — we’ll do this all over again next year.