I don't have any pictures, nor do I have an arsenal of fancy words prepared to describe the meal I had last night at Javier's, the upscale Mexican eatery that is the hottest thing to hit Newport Beach since "the OC." Considering how long I've been wanting to dine at the uber-trendy restaurant, one would think I'd have memorized every detail of the experience. That I'd be able to describe the dimly lit space with acuity, that I'd be able to recall the specific flavor combinations and dish components just as if I were recalling my best friend's date of birth or my parents' phone number. At the very least, I should have some sort of photographic evidence of the items I ingested over the course of the two hours my dining companion and I spent in the restaurant. It doesn't seem possible that I could walk away from the most popular Orange County eatery without my usual Filofax of information.
Except it was possible. Possible because, for once, the experience of eating out was not about the food. It was about getting to know the person I was with.
I know there were chicken and carnitas quesadillas to start, and I know I ate them with some of the guacamole that came on the side. I know there were complimentary chips and salsa on the table, but I don't know if the chips were fresh or the salsa was adequately spiced, because I forgot to try them. I know there was a crisp bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and I know that there was a shrimp and crab enchilada present as well. Everything I ate (and drank) was good, but I can't say why. I can't provide any supporting evidence or critical analysis that might give my "it was good" opinion any sort of authority.
I can say that my date looked cute in his English-style hat, black sweater, and well-fitting designer jeans. He was also cute when he told me he can't stand olives and asked me to kindly remove the offensive orbs from our enchiladas plate. (As an anti-olive person myself, I was happy to comply with his request.) I don't remember what other dressings topped our entree, but I do remember that he has two brothers -- one older, one younger, that he has two border collie mix dogs back home, and that he recently added a salmon penne asparagus dish to his cooking repertoire. He was, like the food I can't remember, "good." Except, unlike the food, I know why.
As a food blogger, I often feel a duty to focus my attention -- or at least a substantial part of it -- on the items I attempt to gracefully shovel into my mouth. Last night's dinner was a refreshing change for me and a reminder that sometimes a five-star dining experience has nothing to do with the acidity of the wine, the visual presentation of the first course, or the consistency of the truffle reduction sauce. Sometimes a five-star dining experience can be attributed to just one vital element -- the company.
(And occasionally the bread basket.)