Friday, June 15, 2012

Bogey and Bacall Made Us Do It

The historic theater district in downtown L.A. has seen much better days; when ladies and gents thought nothing twice about going to the drycleaners in a seersucker suit then sauntering over to a coffee shop for a simple egg cream before a night at the cinema amongst lavish, burgundy curtains, crystal chandeliers, baroque French d├ęcor and 1,999 other guests dressed to the nines. Long gone are those days now that we have the cookie cutter, personality-devoid strip mall Cineplex where the most fancy piece of garb on a patron will be the buttoned up shirt on an usher. But this past week, the historic Los Angeles Theater on Broadway (now closed most of the time, sitting amongst a resurgence of old-architectural gems-cum-hipster lofts) opened its doors to screen the classic noir Bogey and Bacall flick The Big Sleep as part of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s annual program Last Remaining Seats.

So the Cute Gardener and I decided to make a proper night of it. And what would a night for us be without the eternal hunt for new space for our perpetual foodie trysts? We wanted a place that was intimate enough for a few glasses of wine and some bites to eat but that could also easily double as a rendezvous joint for the likes of a real dick and dame, such as the two we would watch later on film. After an illicit drink at King Eddy’s Saloon down the street, (thank you Anthony Bourdain for turning us on to that great dive bar!) we upped our ante towards a little more class and strolled into the cobalt blue walled French wine and cheese bar Mignon.

 A little plate of 50/50 was calling our names: rich and varied olives for him and warm, salty powdered almonds for me and a little sharing of the two in between.

At six o’clock we were the first ones there, which was great as we were able to put in a healthy order of small plates before the onslaught of after work happy hour women who quickly filled up the remaining few seats around the central, and solo, rectangular hearty wooden bar. The CG joked about the place being so clearly a chick joint and I retorted that the $5 priced nice red Rhone was as carnal as his sarcastic heart. We quickly devolved into 1950s noir speak from there as we racked up a bevy of dishes to eat and I crossed my legs to up my coyly flirtatious, yet alluringly mysterious, yet highly acerbic and intelligent game.

He turned into a master gentlemen on the adjoining barstool able to swirl his swish of white wine around like a belle around the dance floor and clever enough to remark on the plethora of nice legs while watching the liquid ones run down his glass – as detached and aloof as Phillip Marlowe. 

“A little lubricant for your loaf?” he asked as he passed over a nice little sliver of bread.

Two glasses down, I welcomed the sexy, tawdriness of that remark and smiled mischievously as the next dish arrived looking exactly like the Cheshire cat. Two beautiful eggs baked side by side with leeks and cream and toast points.

“A little pitter for your patter?” he continued, as a perfect plate of radishes and two rambunctious carrots was set before us completed by a small pot of creamy French butter flecked with fleur de sel.

“A little meat from your mate?” I shot back, while cutting a slab of chunky pate and spreading it onto a crispy, doughy slice to feed into his mouth.

Before leaving, and true to form amongst our newfound surroundings, we enjoyed the Chef’s choice dessert plate. Every real woman knows that all things that end well do so because of the final exclamation of a cherry on top and this escapade came with two halves on a creamy bed of goat cheese with a leaf-wrapped sister and a honey drizzled brie, all luxuriating like my taste buds on the final slices of warm baguette.

Leaving through the double glass doors, I took one last sidelong glance at the cursive letters beckoning others into the place; my seat filled quickly with a couple who had been waiting, and as fast as Romeo could say Juliet, we were off to the theater.

He whistled while we walked and I, beside him perfectly content, whistle wet.

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