Monday, July 29, 2002

Cafe TriBeCa, Rosebank

Monday 29 July 2002

I'm grumpy. Finished work late. Low blood sugar. Full-ish moon. And my backgammon teammates decided that it wasn't important to train tonight. So they just decided not to pitch for tonight's tournament practice session.You can't see the sunglasses perched on top of her hair, but they're there. They just blend in well, since they're the same shade of black.

So when I get to TriBeCa, I really need to eat. And I've got to do it before my movie starts, else it'll be way too late to eat.

The waiter's pleasant enough. Dreadlocks. Clean smile. Offers me the menu. I choose the famous TriBeCa Chicken Tramezzini with Sundried Tomato Mustard and Mozzarella. And a grande latte.

The latte arrives while I'm sketching a mega-babe with sunglasses perched on top of her jet-black hair. The waiter doesn't know where to put it, and he's not taking any initiative. This irritates me. I put my pen down on a napkin and sort it out. This bodes ill.

I drink the latte. Delicious stuff. Halfway through, I realise that I forgot to do the decaff bit when I ordered. I know because I've got the shakes. Only coffee does this to me. So now I've got low blood sugar, full-moon lunacy, and caffeine poisoning. Not to mention a waiter who just isn't quite gelling with me.

So the food arrives. I can't believe I'm seeing this. The tramezzini looks tired. The dough looks like dough, and there's white gungy stuff oozing out of it. I don't remember this dish looking like this. And the garnish. There's a piece of lettuce slightly smaller than a computer mouse. On it is a single black olive, an onion ring, and two bits of very wilted English cucumber.

"You're kidding," I say. "Is this supposed to be a salad??"

"It's the garnish, sir," he says, smiling. "Would you like some salad?"

"This is an embarrassment," I say. "Tell your manager I said so."

He laughs and skulks off. I eat. The tramezzini is awful. I consider sending it back, but I'm way too far gone on the caffeine and the low blood sugar, so I HAVE to eat the damn stuff. And it tastes like I'm chewing blubbery chicken skin. I quickly work out that it's actually just the rubbery mozzarella cheese that's giving me that sensation, but I'm nauseous.

I leave a quarter of the dish and decide to do something about it. "Call the manager, please," I say to my waiter, after I manage to catch his eye.

This is the woman behind the bar at TriBeCa. At least she's worth coming back for.The manager comes. Turns out he's one of two people at the next table. He and his buddy were watching me sketch the uber-babe a little earlier.

He is massively apologetic, and immediately tells me that I don't have to pay for the meal, that he's striking it from the bill. I feel horrible about this. "I didn't come here to get a free meal," I say, taking my wallet out.

"Sir," he says, "I know you didn't. I'm taking it off the bill because I think it's a mistake, and I want to rectify it, and I'd like you to come back here. We made a mistake, and we'll sort it out in the kitchen, and this won't happen again. And I really would like to take it off the bill."

I've eaten, so I'm kinda sane again. So I agree. "Okay," I say. And I thank him after I've packed away my drawing equipment.


I head to the movies, and end up watching NOVACAINE, starring Steve Martin. Awesome movie. Neil, the manager of Cinema Nouveau, tells me before the show that noone's coming to see the movie, and that they have to pull it off the circuit. I give it an 8 out of 10. Good stuff.


After, I head for The Zone. Maybe I'll see a late show there. But I desperately need to take a leak. But as I approach the toilets at The Zone, I see a small crowd gathered around one of the television sets suspended from the ceiling. It's tuned to SABC1, and it's the Commonwealth Games highlights package. So I stand for three-quarters of an hour, and watch the Namibian dude, someone-Fredericks, win the 200 metre dash. I feel proud. And I also feel paralysed from the waste down. I limp to the loo, and see the world's longest pubic hair in the urinal. Gross.

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