Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Birthday Experience

Last Saturday was Pete’s birthday. I woke him up by yelling, “Happy Birthday!” I bounced on the bed asking, “You want your presents?” before running off to the living room to retrieve the little pile of goods I’d wrapped. You’d think it was my birthday I was so excited.

To top the day off, I took him to Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse CUT in Beverly Hills. For our wedding, we’d received a $200 gift certificate for it, and I thought his birthday was a great excuse to go.

As stated before, I love food. I love to cook. I like reading cookbooks, cooking magazines, restaurant reviews and most of all, trying new restaurants. When I was single, my favorite pastime was dining out. Even when I was in high school, my friends and I would go to the American Café near Tyson’s Corner over a party some weekends. (I know, I’m a geek.) My favorite thing is finding great, authentic food at reasonable prices (of course), but I am not one to shy away from highly recommended, expensive places. Food is my one splurge. No matter how broke I ever was, I always found money for good food (to make or order).

Earlier in the day, I introduced Pete to the concept of King for your Birthday. For logistical reasons, we haven’t spent a birthday together until this one. Apparently, his family didn’t’ play this game. I mean, some years, my brother and I even stayed home from school because, hello! royalty doesn’t need to go to school. How unbecoming. (My senior year a teacher even called home and yelled at my mom for being a bad mother and I was actually sick – a first.)

Pete knew we had the gift certificate and he was, for the first time in his life, crowned king and quite enjoyed it. He ordered what he wanted without even a glance at the prices. I tried to manage what I ordered, but it’s not easy.

This is what we ordered:

A Kettle One dirty martini
2 glasses of Cabernet
A plate of beef sashimi (that would be raw beef to ya’ll) (Guess who ordered that?)
A fancy apple salad with dates and almonds (I think I can make it with some imagination)
A bone-in filet mignon
A bourdelaise sauce for said filet (yes, the sauces cost $2)
An aged New York sirloin
A horseradish sauce for said NY sirloin
A side of mashed potatoes
A side of roasted carrots and artichoke bits
A chocolate soufflé

We were also given delicious cheese puffs, great focaccia (though not a great pretzel roll so deemed by the German birthday boy), a tasting tray of four mustards for the steaks plus small pieces of sweets (a chocolate bar thing and a lemon bar). Everything was incredible (minus the pretzel roll). The service was almost impeccable except we were without a candle for awhile after Pete accidentally blew it out for the second time. (The first time it was promptly relit. Maybe they were trying to teach him a lesson? EAT IN THE DARK, YOU CANDLE-BLOWER-OUTER!)

The experience was truly birthday worthy. We had fun. The people-watching was excellent although a bit intimidating since everyone seemed to be a millionaire. I kept waiting for someone to shout, “IMPOSTERS!” and be thrown out.

I knew Cut was going to be expensive. It’s a steakhouse. They are all expensive (at least the ones without salad bars). Before we went, I thought back to a dinner I had at Mastro’s, another Beverly Hills’ steakhouse for $150 (in hindsight, no apps or martinis) and actually thought we might have money left over to pay for part of a meal at Chinois on Main (Wolfie’s restaurant we can walk to). Oh how naïve I was.

Our meal was the MOST expensive meal I’ve ever been a part of (and seen the bill). $322.53 (including tip). As I mentioned before, I splurge on food. I’ve spent $80 on myself for dinner more than a few times. We’ve had prix fixe Valentine’s dinners that cost $100 per person. But $160 per person???


When Pete woke up Sunday morning, he said, “Do you know what we could have bought with $300?”

“Yes. And we bought an experience we don’t need to have again.”

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