I believe in the bar steak. Always have. Whether on a date, or especially when dining alone, it's a stripped down meal—one that comes without any restaurant trappings: no need to rearrange table decorations so I have room to read my paper, and the biggest bonus, no hovering wait staff. I am spared their rehearsed questions, less about hospitality than self glorification.
Question: Have you dined with us before?
Subtext: Have you been so fortunate, so privileged, so freakin' lucky to get a reservation here before?
Question: Shall I explain how the menu works?
Subtext: We have turned America's foundation meal—meat, potatoes and a vegetable—into something so alarmingly difficult to order that I am sure you need my help.
Question: Are you still enjoying that?
Subtext: There's no chance you were anything but thrilled by the chef's cooking: did you see his Vespa ad?
Rather, my bar steak comes with simplicity and sincerity and when I'm lucky, fries. Not those fashionable frites, served swaddled in a white cloth napkin that actually steams the potatoes into a glommy ball. I mean a plate of crisp golden French fries. Thick enough to taste the fluffy potato interior, like hot cotton candy. And on my best nights, it also comes with a real bartender, a man with so much life experience that in one word, he celebrates my victories and mourns my defeats. "Another?" he asks, gesturing towards my glass. And it's not sugar-rimmed.
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