I'm not even hungry. Or thirsty, for that matter. I feel perfectly satiated from the three-course meal and wine pairings I enjoyed at Campanile for their "Friday Night Flight" this evening.
I should just go home. Make some rooibos cinnamon plum tea. Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
That would be the responsible thing to do.
But some how I end up in the car anyway. Lady Gaga's "Monster" comes on, we turn up the volume and I awkwardly bob my head along like a care-free teenager who doesn't have to wake up to go running, clean her apartment and make pizza dough tomorrow.
I can be fun, I think. I can be spontaneous. I can be care-free. Ish.
I extend my legs out of the car and carefully extract myself from the passenger seat, smoothing down the blue skirt of my dress that suddenly feels dowdy rather than sophisticated within the new context of the evening. We dart across the street to the Tar Pit, Mark Peel and Jay Perrin's lounge and restaurant on La Brea, that is still buzzing with activity despite the late hour.
Just one drink, I tell myself. And water. Yes, lots of water. Hydration – that's good and practical behavior.
I secure a glass of a full-bodied French red wine ($10) -- it stands out like a sore thumb amidst the new summer cocktails like the "It's Not You..." with gin, lime, bell pepper simple syrup, and cantaloupe puree that are littering our expansive table along the east wall of the lounge. Even though the cocktails are half-price tonight, there are limits to just how "fun" I can be.
Someone orders fries with lemon salt and garlic aioli ($5.00) and the fried oysters with ginger remoulade ($9.00). I'm full, I remind myself, but my hand strays from its place in my lap and coyly sneaks a long, parsley-studded fry anyway.
"So salty!" I say with approval, my mouth instantly watering for more.
I say something about them being the best fries in LA and reach for three more to dip into the custardy aioli. Heads bob in agreement.
Are they really the best? I wonder. Or should our appreciation be attributed to our wine goggles? Either way, one order of fries turns into three. None of us can get enough of them.
None of us can get enough of this night.
Someone (me) orders the Bananas Foster Sundae ($9) -- a towering parfait of vanilla ice cream, cold slices of banana, candied pecans, whipped cream, and a lofty meringue topping.
I'm full, I remind myself again, as I tear through the layers with my spoon.
"Stop me." I tell the girl to my left, my stomach already holding a protest from all the fries I "coyly" consumed.
She nods like a dutiful soldier and digs a spoon through the meringue topping.
Her eyes close as she savors that first bite. "Stop me." She tells me back, as she digs her spoon in again. And again.
My glass of wine disappears -- replaced with a dry Riesling that makes the rounds around the table. That disappears too. A bad decision. Just like the fries. Just like Bananas Foster. Just like getting in the car in the first place.
I wasn't even hungry. I wasn't even thirsty...
12 am quickly advances to 2 am. The lights come on, and I stare around me somewhat bewildered by the space under the harsh glare of the overhead lights.
I'm shocked when we get into the cab and I see that it's nearly 2:30. I haven't stayed out this late since.... college? I lean back into the sticky leather of the taxi, a mischievous smile stretching across my face as the cityscape passes me by on the short drive home.
Tomorrow's morning run isn't going to be a good one. I'm going to have to eat a lot of quinoa and vegetables for the next week. And I'll need to drink at least a liter of water before bed.
But, damn, this is the delicious life.
The Tar Pit
609 North La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036