Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dinner at Baudelaire's Left Testicle

Last week, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic our seventh anniversary, Paul and I went to a local restaurant to celebrate the fact that nobody has ever made jokes about re-arranging the deck chairs on our marriage.

For dinner, we went to a trendy new eatery called Baudelaire’s Left Testicle. Okay, fine. That’s not its real name. Rather, “B.L.T.”  is my code word for a certain kind of Seattle restaurant, which I’ve written about before.  I’m talking about the ones that are supposed to be very “experimental” and “cutting edge,” with menus that seem to be inspired by an episode of Chopped with a particularly unpleasant basket of must-use ingredients.  These restaurants often have names plucked from obscure lines of maudlin poetry, or sound like the title of a “For Dummies” guide written by Jack London, or, perhaps, the name is simply denoted by an unpronounceable symbol.
I hear this place has GREAT artisanal rabbit-anus sausage! (Pronounced “dou-shay,” BTW)
First off, I should say that the people at B.L.T. were all very, very nice (the service was the best thing about the whole experience). Since I’m about to make some rude comments about the food, I’m not going to mention the restaurant’s actual name. Let’s just say it rhymes with “Fartusi.”

Start with the décor. As soon as we walked in, I was struck by the tiles on the tables and the wall behind the open kitchen. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that they stole these from the bathroom of my first elementary school — a public school in Florida built in the days when asbestos was thought to make you smarter and healthier.
I guess the “Vintage Public School Latrine” look is the latest trend in restaurant design?
Without mentioning this, I asked Paul if the tiles reminded him of anything. “A urinal?” he guessed. I gave him a warm, fuzzy “This is why we’re married!” look. When faced with this strange Roarshack test, we’re on the same disgusting page.

We started with cocktails. The menu featured a long and intricate list of “craft” cocktails, with ingredients that recall The Old Testament and/or a bottle of conditioner. (The Frankensense Cosmo with a twist of Keratin wasn’t on the list, but you could probably get one if you asked nicely.) Paul ordered a concoction called a Punctured Bicycle, which I guessed was an homage to The Smiths' song, This Charming Man (the waitress said she "wouldn't be surprised," but she wasn't sure). The ruby-red drink was very pretty, but tasted like Robitussin (organic, artisanal Robitussin, of course) mixed with some sort of hand lotion. Fans of “craft” cocktails, it seems, are too cool for anything so pedestrian as a beverage that actually tastes good. 
Next time I have cough with a lot of phlegm, I’ll down a few of these...
For the main course, Paul had the “Squid ink cavatelli with octopus ragu & tomato conserva,” which sounded promising. Two multi-tentacled sea creatures in the same place sounds like a win-win (unless you happen to be a whale). Sadly, this is what happened to our eyeballs:
Protip: Roach-colored pasta that’s also shaped like a roach = too much of a good thing.
If it had been sufficiently delicious, I might’ve been able to overlook the fact that the dish looked like something someone might've had to eat and/or spend an hour with in a glass tank with on Fear Factor (do the Kids These Days even remember that show??). Squid-ink pasta can be divine, but this version was strangely bland--almost as if that's what they were going for (is that a new trend I'm not aware of?). On the finish, there were notes that recalled, once again, Jergen's hand lotion. Maybe they had some left over from the cocktail.

Compared to the pasta, my entrée was absolutely delicious. I chose the “Capunet: chard stuffed with chicken, potato, and cabbage, with a caramelized honey sauce.” There were two capunets (I'll throw that term around as if we all knew exactly what it meant, thankyouverymuch...) on the plate, each roughly the size of an egg roll. The flavors in the filling married well, and the lightly sweet sauce struck a nice balance.

However, the presentation …well, let’s just say it was in keeping with the Vintage Public School Latrine theme:
Protip: Be careful what you serve in a toilet-shaped bowl...
“Looks like something you might’ve seen floating in a toilet at CBGB’s,” Paul noted. “Going in after someone who had been on an eight-day bender, drinking a lot of Jager and doing fat rails of…”

I held up a hand to shut him up.

In the background, we could hear the strains of a Violent Femmes song covered as an Emo electronic remix, with vocals by what sounded like tweens on Ambien. It was one of a long playlist of songs that sounded like covers of other cover songs. The title of the compilation might’ve been, “Young Japanese Girls Sing Songs in a Language They Don’t Understand.”

In a way, the dining experience echoed the soundtrack. Like the songs, Baudelaire's Left Testicle was trying to do a stylish, new version of a certain kind of cuisine--one that was trying to do a stylish, new version of something else (Italian-Polish-Klingon fusion?), with infinite regress. It was a good effort, but overall, the food was the culinary version of a Radiohead cover band. That is, if all the songs tasted a little bit like lavender hand lotion...

8 comments:

  1. Yes this is exactly what happened. But desert was nice!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I should've mentioned that! Desert was quite good. And the beet salad was good. So, 2/6.

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  2. Desert? Is that a camel kebob?

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    Replies
    1. It was, in fact, a desert dessert. The "Laurence of Arabia"--a kebob of three different saffron-infused cakes, served over an artisanal sugar "sand-dune." It tasted like failed Colonialism and Weltschmertz. That, and Jergen's hand lotion.

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