Dining out at Chez Barmitzvah
My dear friend Noorster has blogged before about her place of work, and I guess I just had to see it for myself. I'd walked past it often enough, but had never ventured in. It's the sort of place you don't really go into unless you have a reason, such as your friend Noorster happening to be waitering there.
So in I glided, my bevvy of beauties in tow (+ our canine harem), to take our seats at Noorster's one available table - which just happens to be fabulously placed - right next to the band. Yes folks, this is a restaurant with a band. Well, not quite a band. More like one guy, posing as a singer, whose level of sobriety is inversely proportionate to the lateness of the hour, and his sidekick, posing as 'the guy who plays the keyboards', providing the back-up for the first guy, and occasionally (though probably unintentionally) even playing chords in the same key as the first guy is singing in. They regaled us with such unforgettable numbers as 'No Woman No Cry' (I kid you not), 'Sweat A La Long' (ditto; and when he positively shouted 'push it, push it some more', I thought I was going to spray my drink all over the table), and others. The decibels were set at 'ballistic', presumably because any lower and people might be able to talk about the quality of the music and come to the conclusion that they really weren't enjoying it. At this level of sound, all people can do is grin at each other, and wonder why everyone else is grinning when it really is so utterly painful to listen to.
During the band's break, when the singer went to fortify himself with half a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label, the helm was commandeered by an Elvis impersonator. Well, an Elvis impersonator by name at least. The resemblance ended there, although there were sideburns and a very silly white suit involved as well. We played the game of "guess what Elvis song this is" - If we managed to guess it before it was over, he was doing well. The worst part of the Elvis performance was the realization that he had probably rehearsed ...
Noorster expertly took our orders, which was followed, a rather incredibly short time later, by her ushering in platters the size of, well, platters, absolutely heaped with food. And good food too. I guess something had to be drawing the crowd (the place was packed) and I was hoping that it wasn't the band.
And it was then, as I sat and ate my ktitsot keves and watched the people on the dance floor moving not quite to the beat, the extended families at their long tables, and the children pouring salt and pepper into their drinks, that I realized what this restaurant reminded me of. I suddenly realized why this all felt so familiar. This place was Chez Barmitzvah! It truly felt as though we were at the barmitzvah of someone we didn't know, whose guests we had never (thankfully) met - the sort of function you get invited to because your mother's a friend of someone whose daughter once babysat for someone whose next door neighbor just happens to be ... well, you get the picture. Having come to that realization, I think we were then able to relax and enjoy it, because we knew the genre and were able to appreciate it for what it was. This wasn't a restaurant pretending to be a restaurant. This was a restaurant pretending to be a barmitzvah; or a wedding; or both. The customers were variously at the function of their choice - without, of course, actually being at a function, meaning that they didn't have to bring presents or (as is more common over here) a check.
Of course, we were not on either the Bride or the Groom's side, or the barmitzvah boy's side - we were there for the waitress.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. We had had our fill (and left our leftovers - the food was good, but in true barmitzvah style, was piled so high it would have taken a week to get through). The band was getting less and less coherent, though louder, and the guy playing the back-up vocals on the keyboard had started slouching. The dancers were paying less attention to the beat and to each other, and, of course, the barmitzvah boy was no-where to be seen. So we just paid our bill, left our tip, and, escorted by our charming waitress, exited stage left.
And as if to rubber-stamp the theme of the evening, a few minutes after we left, I got an SMS from Noorster: "Some woman is eating your leftovers" ...