For many years, we have celebrated Valentine’s Day with our friends who live next door. Some years the neighbors cook and we decorate, other years we switch with Larry and I cooking and they are in charge of the atmosphere.
This year, for the first time, we decided to go out for dinner instead. We had planned a special dinner for Cali’s BIG birthday last fall at Alexander’s Steakhouse, the only Michelin starred restaurant in our immediate neighborhood. But due to their daughter Sarah's teenage scheduling conflicts, the birthday dinner was postponed. Since we had never rescheduled, we decided to make Alexander’s our Valentine’s celebration.
We started the evening by ordering the popcorn crab “snack.” Before the crab arrived, we were treated to an amuse bouche of avocado mousse, cream cheese and trout roe. It was Sarah’s first amuse bouche, but she was not thrilled with the roe. I was impressed that a 16 year old would even try it! The crab bites were light and sweet, lightly breaded and cheesy, served with sriracha mayonnaise for dipping.
After salads, came a hibiscus intermezzo that we all enjoyed. The entrees got mixed reviews. None of us splurged and ordered the Wagyu steaks. The ladies all chose filets and were pleased with their selections. Larry had a NY strip which was more rare than the medium well he requested. Paul’s prime rib had good flavor, but was quite chewy. The sides of two kinds of potatoes and creamed spinach were good, but not outstanding.
The service was the most impressive aspect of the evening. It was impeccable. By the time a glass was half empty it was refilled or replaced. Sarah, with her astute observational skills, noted right away that many of the tables in the restaurant were inexpensive, aluminum folding tables that seemed out of character for the fine dining atmosphere. We decided they must have replaced the usual larger tables with more smaller tables due to the Valentine's weekend couples crowd.
Sarah loved the cotton candy they deliver with the check. But my favorite part of the evening was Sarah’s FaceBook comment the next morning. She said she’d had an awesome dinner with her family the night before. When I commented (she lets me be her FB friend) I was happy she still considers me family, she hit “Like” to my comment. That a sometimes petulant, but always enchanting, beautiful, engaging 16 year old enjoys going out to dinner with me and considers me “family” was my best Valentine gift. And speaking of gifts, one year when she was much younger, Sarah gave us her most prized possession as our Christmas gift– the smelly cast that had just been removed from her broken arm!