Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chaya Brasserie: Can I survive happy hour without food or alcohol?

I’m a bit nervous as I head over to Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills early Sunday evening to take advantage of their all-night happy hour. Not because I am socially awkward and fear that I will be a blubbering mess when I finally meet Esi of Dishing Up Delights, Chrystal and Amir of the Duo Dishes, Jenn of Bread + Butter, Kirby of Kirby Von Scrumptious, et all, but because I don’t actually plan to eat or drink anything.

I stare at my reflection in the vanity mirror before vacating my car for the restaurant and wonder, “Can I really do this? Can I really just drink water at happy hour? And what will they think of me if I do? My reputation as a voracious eater is at stake here!”

It’s not as though I’ve suddenly become a sad sober Sally, but after two days of indulging – Friday with my mom, and Saturday at my dad’s rotary BBQ in the OC (there were 80 lbs of meat for 40 people), my body is in need of a break. I am craving roughage instead of fatty hunks of pork and sausage, and green tea instead of my typical glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I need, as Cathy the Gastronomer might say, “to retreat.”

As I walk into the lounge at the front end of the restaurant, I’m relieved to see that I’m not late – only Chrystal and Amir, the organizers of the food blogger shindig, are sitting at our table. I rush over, make a hasty introduction and then immediately begin gushing about my confusion with the meters on Robertson Blvd. (they now require coinage until 8 pm on Sundays). I don’t feel all that self-conscious when I depart a few moments later to move my car from the metered space (I don’t have enough quarters with me to last until 8) to park at valet. Chrystal and Amir read my blog – they know I’m a neurotic ninny. What I’m more concerned about is how everyone will react when I turn up my nose at the $6 glasses of wine, the delectable $5.75 specialty martinis like the lychee one I’ve enjoyed on previous occasions, and the adorable $8 mini cheese burgers with fries.

I’m relieved when Sam from the Punky Chef arrives and declares that she’s sticking with the quality H20 tonight, as well. As the others filter in and conversation begins to flow, I relax and decide that it is possible to get through happy hour without liquid courage and fried deliciousness. I’m already a happy person sans the assistance of consumable items, and with so many smiling faces around me, I no longer feel pressure to break my cleanse in order to be “sociable.”

While I do nibble on a couple pieces of the complimentary sushi rolls the Chef prepares for us – including the surprisingly satisfying vegetarian caterpillar roll with avocado, asparagus, cucumber and yama gobo, I get most of my kicks from finally sitting down with the previously faceless people whose blogs I read on a daily basis. I’m excited to see that I’m as comfortable talking to Esi in person as I am in our e-mails to each other. It’s fun to discover that Kirby, Jenn, and Chrystal and Amir are all just as lovely and amazing as their on-line personas would suggest. And I’m equally smitten with Sam of Punky Chef, Michael of South Bay Foodies and Liz of Yo Soy Blog, who I hadn’t known prior to the meet-up.

As I drive home, I can scarcely believe how satisfied I feel from a two hour happy hour that involved only a couple pieces of a sushi roll and several glasses of water. (Though I do make a big fat quinoa edamame salad for my dinner when I get home.) For once, however, it wasn’t about the food or drink, and how much of both I could consume before developing a food baby belly. The evening was made special (and memorable) because of the company.

Chaya Brasserie
8741 Alden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 859-8833


Cathy said...

Your self control is unparallelled. I probably would've sat my butt at home rather than torture myself like so. I am impressed.

The Duo Dishes said...

You aren't the only one who has been to a happy hour or party without eating/drinking. Seems daunting at first, but anyone steadfast on their goal can do it. Free sushi and sweet martinis will always be around. :) It was great to meet you! Also great to know you did not go to bed hungry. ha!

weezermonkey said...

You are everybody's favorite neurotic ninny who gives tippies.

Chaya's happy hour just can't be beat.

Pearl said...

you and i must meet up the next time i'm in LA! dinner will be on me.

Diana said...

Cathy - It actually really wasn't that bad! I'd already gotten my fill of calamari and wine on Fri and Sat, so wasn't really tempted to eat/drink more.

Chrystal & Amir - You never need worry about me going to bed hungry -- even when I'm "cleansing" I never skip a meal!

Sharon - Haha, maybe I should put that up on my header - "neurotic ninny who gives tippies." Pretty catchy!

Pearl - In that case, hurry back soon! ;)

Jenn said...

Nice job on your self control. I know how it is, I've done it several times. It can be tough, but you eventually get the hang of it. As long as you had enjoyed the night is all that matters.

Esi said...

Your self control is amazing. You're right though, it was really more about the company and what a great time it was!!!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

sounds so fun! i want in next time =) would love to meet everyone! you are a real trooper controlling yourself like that

Apples and Butter said...

Wow. Congratulations. You are a much stronger person than I! I have walked in to restaurants with the best of intentions of not indulging, but it never works! Those complimentary sushi rolls look delicious!

Diana said...

Jenn - I did enjoy the night! It wasn't so hard to resist the food/drink, but it did feel sort of weird to be just there hanging out!

Esi - Hold that thought until you see me in an ice cream parlor. :)

Nastassia - I'd love for you to come to the next one! Or we should just plan our own gathering!

Jessica - Trust me, this was a once in a lifetime deal! I'm still shocked I was able to do it!

Kirby! said...

I totally didn't realize that you didn't eat or drink anything!! You did a great job of masking your plan to abstain! But I must say, the sushi was pretty bomb, and Sam's calimari was rockin!

And it was so great to finally meet you. We should rendezvous again soon!

shopeatsleep said...

What's in the lead photo of this post? It looks crazy!

Diana said...

Kirby - Let's definitely plan an excursion in the new future - I promise I'll eat/drink next time! ;)

Maya - It's calamari! In some sort of crispy rice batter. Insane, huh? I didn't try it, but everyone else seemed to love it.