|06:19 am - Happy Trails [Heavy Sighs…]|
My working schedule necessitated that what most call “lunch” be my main meal of the day, so I approached it differently from most of the usual lunch crowd. In the early days of my tenure, I had a rule to never eat at the same establishment twice in the same week. The culinary landscape within a walk of work was such I could easily stretch that to two weeks. But that landscape changed gradually over the years; the cumulative effect becoming quite drastic over the course of a decade and a half. So much so that in my last several years most days found me sustaining myself at Jimmy’s on Broadway, the restaurant in the Silver Cloud Hotel at First Hill.
This would not be the case if the menu and its execution weren’t top-notch; but that’s only half the story. The staff from top to bottom is an amazing group of people. They made me feel like pampered royalty and yet an intimate member of the family at the same time. Sure, I spent a lot of money there; but it went beyond that. This was evidenced by the gracious send-off they prepared for my retirement. (Considerably more than my employer of the previous fifteen years!)
First off, they comped my dream dinner: filet mignon with garlic-leek potatoes and grilled asparagus, complimented with a sublime split of 2011 Barolo d’Alba, finished off with a tangerine-mango-ginger sorbet drowning in limoncelo. All this would have set me back over $100 with tax and appropriate tip. And I was more than willing (and fully planning) to pay as much in honor of the occasion. But they would have none of it; they wouldn’t even let me leave a tip!
The Swag Bag
As if that weren’t generous enough, they put together a touchingly thoughtful gift bag. Each present had a symbolic significance. The wines were in recognition of all the grief I gave the beverage manager over the years. I constantly complained that their lone Washington State Syrah was only available by the bottle; so it was this bottle they presented me. (Eventually and thankfully other WA Syrahs replaced the Australian and Californian Syrahs that were available by the glass in those days.)
The Barolo was one of my favorites when I lived in Bologna. It was also my excuse whenever one of Jimmy’s staff tried to lay a guilt trip on me for patronizing their main competitor. “Well, I was really craving a Borolo,” I’d explain, “and y’all don’t have that here.” So they began stocking a very nice vintage, albeit in the split only. It became my guilty pleasure whenever I had a day so horribly rotten or a special cause to celebrate that justified indulging in the extravagance.
The food services manager and I happen to share an affinity for gin and tonics in warm weather. She claims to have brought in the exotic tonic water just for me, even though originally I made fun of it as “hoity-toity tonic”; or the “Empress’s new tonic”. At first I considered it a strictly superfluous status symbol, with no real effect on the over-all quality of the drink. I went so far as to wager that an honest person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a side-by side comparison. I lost that bet. I didn’t even need a sip to discern the difference; I could tell just by looking. It was more a matter of texture than taste; the hoity-toity tonic had bubbles that were a fraction of the size normally found in sodas, and it had considerably more of them. The effect was a velvet tickle to the palate that opened up the taste buds to focus the flavor. After my little experiment, the staff didn’t even have to ask for the up-sell.
The crew at Jimmy’s were well-aware of my fondness for the forest, and knew I planned to spend much of my retirement camping. A few years back I led the previous executive chef and his son to a hidden fishing hole in the Olympic mountains; so I guess they assumed I like to fish as well as camp. And of course there’s the association of “Gone Fishin’” as the antithesis of work. So the net and bug beater go towards those themes. The folding waiter’s corkscrew ties them all together.
Oh - and that sachet o’ snacks? That’s for munching while sailing off into the sunset on the ferry. Nice touch.
I’ll miss Jimmy’s; I’ll miss my family there even more.
Current Location: Sailing off into the sunset...
Current Mood: Nostalgic
Current Music: Vera Lynn: "We'll Meet Again"