Steve and I are working on some financial goals so we decided on a modest dinner out to celebrate our anniversary. We were going to eat at Tuscan Grill, a local casual Northern Italian restaurant. Although we could have gone in our jeans and sweaters, we wanted to celebrate so we dressed up. Steve wore his black suit with a lavender shirt and purple tie and I wore a silver brocade dress (very 60s) with black tights and platform pumps. We looked pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself. When we arrived at Tuscan Grill it was obvious we were quite overdressed, but we really didn’t care. This was our celebration. The table we were given looked out into the dining room and it felt like all eyes were on us. Some of them actually were as the guy at a nearby table kept glancing at me. I’m sure it’s because I looked so smashing. Within 10 minutes we knew this just wasn’t the kind of dinner we wanted. The waiter was overworked, the restaurant was too bright and people kept staring. I mentioned that this wasn’t quite what I hoped for and Steve agreed. After a short discussion (and a waiter who kept leaving our table mid-sentence) we decided we could have what we really wanted, dinner at Gilardi’s, for about the same price.
We got up, explained the situation to our normal waiter (who was working the bar) and left quietly. After all, this was a place we really enjoyed on a regular night but it just wasn’t right last night. We got in the car and I called Gilardi’s to see if we could get a table. No problem, they said and we arrived about 20 minutes later. Gilardi’s has two dining rooms. The main dining room, we decided, is where all the cool kids eat. Nicola regularly walks around and chats with the regulars in the main room. The other dining room is nice, but less warm. Because Monica, Nicola’s wife, wasn’t the hostess and nobody knew us, we were seated in the other dining room. We didn’t mind because now we were where we wanted to be in the first place. We ordered our salads and dinner and got started. A large group left the area and things got quiet. Quiet enough to hear every word of the conversation at the table next to us. It was a group of pretentious doctors who were enjoying a detailed medical conversation. I worked in an ER and I can take about anything gross, but this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I spied Nicola in the other room and got up to go say hello. Although Steve and I had discussed moving away from the snobs, we didn’t want to make a fuss so we planned finish our dinner in there and have our dessert and coffee at the bar in the main dining room. When Nicola saw me he gave me a huge hug and kiss and asked why we weren’t in the main dining room. I explained how we’d called at the last minute and hadn’t requested otherwise. When he found out we hadn’t had our dinner he insisted on moving us the the “cool kid’s room” as we were now calling it.
It dramatically changed our evening. Suddenly we were where we wanted to be. Although it was much noisier, the atmosphere was warmer, Steve and I felt cozier, and we were in heaven. We even got to keep our waiter, who we really liked. Once we were seated, Steve asked me if I’d gotten up to request a move. Nope, it was all innocent and Nicola made the decision. Good thing because shortly after I left the table to see Nicola, the snobs were discussing which expensive restaurants they were going to visit in Chicago and whether or not the men should take ties to wear. One person commented, “Who wears a tie to a restaurant?” Um, people with class, you dimwit. Steve was wearing a tie, which the woman noticed shortly after she made the comment. Apparently, I showed up right after that and exclaimed that Nicola (yes, the owner you snobs) was moving us to a special table in the main dining room. Eat that, jerks. Steve and I found the whole thing extremely amusing.
In the end, we had the dinner we wanted at the place we wanted for the price we’d budgeted. We had a great time, laughed at the circumstances and vowed to not short-change ourselves in the future when it comes to special occasions.