I chuckled when I read it, but secretly thought, “God forbid he ever go to dinner with my mom and me.”
Not only do we tend toward ordering the same thing over and over again at our same tried and true restaurants, but we also almost always order the same dish as the other. It’s not just an issue of having similar tastes (though we do aside from her inexplicable aversion to raw fish, goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes), but because we are both terrified of concocting a case of plate envy. On the occasions when we have opted for different entrees, one of us (usually me) inevitably wants what “she’s having.” Insert unhappy face here. And a couple “wah wahs” a la Debbie Downer on “SNL.”
This past Friday, the company that (barely) funds my foodie lifestyle gifted me with a day off, and my dear mom braved the 405 freeway to come spend the day with me in La La land. I tried my best to come up with a new restaurant for us to try, and even mined the Twitterverse for suggestions for places with yummy salads (thanks to all who responded), but we ultimately decided to go back to our favorite place to lunch in WeHo, the Little Next Door.
My mom was all set to go with the croque monsieur, a sandwich we have both enjoyed on previous visits, but as soon as I announced that I was having the Little Next Deal with the ½ roast beef sandwich, bowl of soup, deli salad, and macaron, her lip started to quiver in anxiety. She immediately changed course and decided to go for the $15 lunch deal as well. In typical fashion, we then proceeded to get the same sandwich (roast beef) and same soup (the peach gazpacho), as well. The only discrepancy on our plates were the salads – the artichoke, green bean and feta salad for her, and the quinoa with currants and pinenuts for me.
The lunch was lovely as usual, but it did take me a few moments to come around to the peach gazpacho that was more gazpacho-y and less peachy than I anticipated. I was all set to screw up my nose in displeasure, but as I kept eating it, the cold soup began to grow on me. It helped that my mom kept hyping it up with affirmative noises from her end of the table (just like laughter, positive reactions to food seem to be contagious). Also, once the basil ice cube began to seep in, the soup began to develop a more complex flavor that elevated it from my original reaction that it tasted like salsa.
After our successful lunch at Little Next Door, we gave our stomachs a breather at Anthropologie at the Grove and then at the Arclight to see Time Traveler’s Wife. The break revved up our appetites just in time for dinner at another of my tried and true restos, Nook Bistro in Santa Monica.
The evening proceeded in much the same way that lunch did. We ordered the same glass of wine – the Margerum Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Ynez, and the same entrée – the shrimp and grits that I have already enjoyed once before. Our only gamble of the evening was the fried calamari that we split for an appetizer. But then again when is fried anything a gamble?
The big bowl of fatty fried rings and tentacles was addicting with its citrus-soy vinaigrette and wasabi dipping sauce. We made our way through all the tender rings, leaving only the tentacles behind (Ma and Diana H. don’t do tentacles).
We finished things up with the only dessert I’ve ever had at Nook – the chocolate banana bread pudding. It was just as good as it has been on my previous visits – a warm blanket for the tongue. Insert very happy faces here.
By the measure of my good friend Tony C., our day was a foodie fail. We went to the same old restaurants, ordered the same exact things, and, aside from the peach gazpacho and calamari, made no attempt to try anything new. Yet, I have no regrets. It was the perfect day, and the familiar food, just like that chocolate banana bread pudding, was a comfort to our souls. There was no need for any “wah wahs,” or plate envy. I am left with only fond memories of a wonderful day spent with my dear “significant mother.”