A West Hills Lifestyle

April 29, 2007 at 7:52 pm (Sweet sticky things)

It’s back to work tomorrow, but oh what a glorious weekend. Discovering the east-coast feed of HBO has gotten me up to the minute on The Sopranos, so I have a few more minutes to catch up on last minute details. Like put away laundry. Do a little freestyle typing. Maybe have another bowl of ice cream.

Despite the last couple of posts, this is not a blog about food. This weekend, however, was filled with dining options well beyond my normal price range.

Todai was a nice start. It was nice to hang out with friends, and I consumed enough sushi and teriyaki salmon to cure my fish cravings.

Saturday, I had plans to hook up with a friend for the evening. The weather was gorgeous, and so were the young ladies sashaying about the town, so I spent a couple of hours walking the downtown area, sipping coffee in the park. Soon, the afternoon had frittered away, and it was time to meet my friend.

After greetings were exchanged, she asked where I wanted to go for dinner. “Anything but sushi,” was my response. Two days in a row was too much.

“Would you be okay with other kinds of seafood?” she asked.

“I suppose so. What do you have in mind? I was thinking ribs from Podnah’s.” Best ribs in town.

She smiled slyly. “Well… I have a gift certificate to the Chart House. Wanna go?”

“Hell yeah!” I looked at my worn-all-over-town tee shirt and sweats. They were in good shape, but for the Chart House?

My friend and her daughter had gone the week before, but couldn’t get in, due to it being prom season. To avoid a repeat, I made a reservation, got the last early-afternoon one, and we were in business.

The Chart House has been around a long time, and is quite popular with ‘blue-hairs and prom queens’, as my friend so accurately put it. It’s way up on the side of a hill, near the University Hospital, aka Pill Hill. The valet parked her Kia, and we marched in like it was the Old Country Buffet, and I was the mayor of Otis.

There were just a few couples there, and we were seated by a window with a spectacular view of the Willamette River, both Mt Hood and Mt St Helens, as well as all the bridges and downtown.

The view was interesting inside, as well. The first contingent of promsters arrived. (“Prom season.” “Rabbit season!”) I glanced over, and was greeted with a case of stink-eye from a seventeen-year-old wearing a dress like the one that made Jennifer Lopez famous. (Green, see-through, split to the rib cage.) Of course, they were seated right next to us, which gave my friend and I much fodder for conversation.

Neither she or I went to proms. Hell, I didn’t even go to high school. (But I saw Carrie at age fifteen, so I know what to expect when folks like me go to the prom…)

We prowl the menu, and I have to squirm a little. “Um, how much is your coupon for? This place is expensive.”

She smiles. “$100!” She explained how she had worked miracles at her job, and recieved it as a bonus thank-you.

“Cool. There won’t be much change left… But I’ll buy breakfast!” We had a financial meeting of the minds.

Now what to eat? There were lots of yummy looking seafood options. But I have been hoodwinked by high price tags and flowery descriptions before, so I chose something I rarely get and always enjoy: prime rib. The Callahan cut. I wondered if it was named after that cartoonist in Willamette Week…

My friend ordered halibut, with a crab/lobster sauce. We munch on warm bread, gaze at the incredible view, and burst into giggles at the conversation drifting over from the promster’s table.

“Dude, I saw Triple XXX. That is, without a doubt, the best fucking movie ever!” My friend bit her lower lip, no doubt expecting me to diss Vin Diesel. I restrained…

Ooh! Another guest! This was probably the most impressive thing I saw in the Chart House. There was a horsefly living in our window. It had to be an inch long, and looked like a VW Baja with two surfboards on top. It would walk to the top, get self-conscious, and drift back to the bottom. The prom queen saw it, pointed, gasped, squealed even. My friend was willing to dispatch it, (the fly, not the prom queen) but I asked her not to. Besides becoming an insect activist at the damnedest times, I kinda wanted to see how this social experiment played out.

Next thing overheard-“I can get you another menu if you like, but prom guests are usually expected to order from this menu.”

Now we both had a burning desire to see the ‘prom menu’. “What do you suppose is on it? Corn dogs and mac and cheese?” My friend voted for fish sticks and tater tots, which seemed apropos. I hear the waiter ask the prom queen, “So you want the dessert served as the entree?…” My friend rolled her eyes. I could see the headache forming.

After a shrimp/avocado martini, (and a Grey Goose martini, $12, for my designated driver) our dinner arrived. My friend’s halibut looked wonderful, and she gave me a bite, and it tasted as good as it looked. (The only thing wrong with it was the $35 price tag, she said.) She got stuck with broccoli as well, and if I hadn’t ate four pieces of bread, I would have helped her out.

My god, the prime rib. Our waiter said it was a signature dish; I could see why. (That Mister Callahan must have some big meat!) It was a cut about the size of a VHS tape, and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cooked medium rare, with horseradish sauce and au jus. I finished all but one lump of fat, and left with a delicious greasy feeling on my lips.

Forgoing the $12 desserts, we decided on pints of Ben & Jerry’s, most likely to be consumed in the middle of the night. My friend is an office worker, and I’m a night owl, so she’s used to me meandering around her house in the middle of the night, web-surfing and watching DVDs that put her to sleep. (Much like her doing dishes and mowing the lawn doesn’t faze me in the least. I like to rise around the crack of noon…)

This Sunday, I was up early. After that excellent dinner, I felt compelled to counter with the best apple pancakes in the universe. So it was back into the Kia, back to the West Hills, and off to The Original Pancake House.

This place is legendary. They don’t take reservations, and have a small hallway where folks wait their turn for one of the fifteen or so tables inside. Bring a paper, and if the line is long, grab a number and take off for half an hour. This day, we timed it right; we only waited about ten minutes.

The table next to us had a six-month-old infant, and he was charming everyone. Our waitress recognized us, and said, “I’ll bet at least one of you is having the apple pancakes?”

I raised my hand. “And a side order of bacon, please.” I look at my friend. “Isn’t that what you’re having? You always wish you do, when you see mine…”

She nodded, “Yeah, yeah.. I was debating between that and the Dutch baby.”

I pointed at the squawking infant. “I dunno. They seem a little undercooked today…”

She handed the menu over. “I’ll have what he’s having.” I’m getting ‘the look’.

Breakfast was exquisite, and cost about as much as the previous night’s tip. It’s almost 9 PM, PST and the apple pancake is still hanging in there. However, I still have that pint of B & J, and it’s just about time for the west-coast feed of The Sopranos…

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