Max and I were sitting by the pool reading the paper.
“Look at this,” he said, tapping a full-page ad. “A new five star restaurant in town called Musica y Plata. Let’s try it tonight.”
Another wife might be delighted at this invitation. But I knew better. Max doesn’t dine at a restaurant. He analyzes and judges. But that’s what I get being married to a five-time winner of The Golden Radish Award.
Max doesn’t dine at a restaurant. He analyzes and judges.
“Delightful!” I said, turning my head from Max and rolling my eyes.
That evening, we stepped across the threshold of Musica y Plata. The restaurant was a refurbished grand house on a tree-lined street. Black, pink and yellow pasta tiles covered the floor. Walls were left scraped and unpainted enhancing the romantic antique feel. Tables set with pink linen, crystal, silver, pink roses, and candles dotted the dining room. At one end, a tiled fountain burbled and a musician played soft Mexican guitar music.
“Enchanting!” I said, clasping my hands to my chest.
Max furrowed his brow. “Lighting’s too bright,” he muttered.
I winced. We’re off!
As Max requested, the maître d’ seated us in a quiet corner next to a potted palm away from the other diners.
Max stared at his table setting. He moved the dinner plate a hair’s breath toward the edge of the table. He inspected the butter plate and twisted the little knife. “I prefer it at 9:00 and 3:00.”
The menu arrived and looking through it, my mouth watered. “I’d like the grilled tuna with a swirl of mashed white and sweet potatoes,” I said.
“I’ll have the roasted duck breast over polenta in an orange Grand Marnier Sauce,” Max said. He ordered a bottle of wine.
When the wine arrived and our glasses had been filled, the server put it into a bucket and draped a napkin over it.
Max lifted the napkin and turned the bottle an inch. “The label should always be facing the person who ordered the wine.”
“Cheers, Max,” I said, touching my glass to his. “Let’s enjoy it anyway.”
The server presented our plates and left.
Max leaned toward mine and frowned. “The tuna should be in a chevron design pointing up toward the top of the plate, not criss-crossed.” He looked puzzled. “What are those sprinkles on top? They detract from the overall design.”
My stomach growled. “I like the sprinkles,” I said through clenched teeth. “Eat your duck!”
Max grimaced at his plate. “Peas should never be served with duck. Look! They’re rolling into the polenta and tainting the Grand Marnier and orange sauce.”
“Rise to the occasion. Scrape away the peas that attached themselves to the polenta and let’s eat, for heaven’s sake.”
We dived into our dinners. Mine was divine. I looked at Max.
“Duck skin could be crisper,” he said, pursing his lips. “Polenta a bit mushy. A wee too much orange Gran Marnier sauce for my taste. I don’t mean to be picky.”
I arched my eyebrow. “Of, course not, dear.”
Max dabbed his chin with the napkin and dropped it back in his lap. He looked at me. “Sylvia, it’s not just about the food. It’s about the details of the presentation. You know that!”
“Max,” I said, looking at him over my wineglass, “don’t you think you’re a bit of a stuffed shirt?”
Still bent over his plate, and scraping the last of the sauce away with a crust of bread, he said, “Never!”
“I vote for dessert!” he said, signaling for the server.
I really wasn’t up to more from Max. “Something simple?” I said. “A scoop of ice cream?” How wrong could that go?
“Nonsense! Look he said, his finger on Strawberry mousse with a touch of chocolate. “We’ll have two,” he said, smiling.
The mousse arrived, a ramekin of pink delight with a decoration. Max sneered. “The strawberry sitting on the disc of chocolate is not exactly centered. You do see my point, don’t you Sylvia?”
Only the one on top of your head, I thought. But I said, “You’ll pull, through. You’re a trooper.”
We sipped the last of the wine and Max asked for the check. Uh, oh, I thought. Here it comes: Max’s list of grievances for the unsuspecting server.
Max paid up and added a very generous tip.
“Thank you!” the server said. “Did you enjoy your dinner?”
Poor creature. Here comes the axe!
“Superb!” Max said. “One of the most memorable meals I’ve had! Can’t find a single fault!”
“Very happy to hear that, sir.”
Max folded his napkin into a perfect triangle and smiled. “Be assured when we return we’ll ask for your table!”
Really, Max? Don’t you have a litany of culinary faux pas to unroll?
Did I mention our server was a 20 something beauty with the face of a Madonna and a streetwise body? When she left, I gave Max a cold stare.
“What?” Max said with the innocent face of a kid caught with his hand in a cookie jar.
“I must tell you something sincerely from the bottom of my heart.” I gripped the table with both hands. “Max,” I said, looking directly into his eyes. “You are a master silver tongued pain!”
Looking stunned, he pulled back. “Sylvia, my dear!”
“Don’t worry, Max,” I said, scraping my chair back and getting up. “You are my very own master silver tongued pain and I adore you. I can’t think of anyone else in my life but you. And I can say this with certainty: You never bore me!”