Last night Scott and I were wandering downtown after a couple drinks and some comic book shopping, and stopped into a new little French bistro for dinner. We took a seat in the half-full Chez Joly and ordered up a few items from the modestly-priced menu, had a glass of wine and a pleasant chat with the maître'd for a minute about business and whatnot. I gave him my card and assured him I don't review restaurants (I don't, really).
One thing that struck me as a little odd was that the place was only half-full, on first Thursday, in the Pearl. One of the owners (M. Joly himself) came to greet us and apologized for the loudness. It wasn't busy enough to be considered loud by anyone under 70, and it seemed to me that he was really coddling this image of a bustling bistro when in fact, it was kind of a sad little place that reeked of trying too hard. For the price point, I would've preferred a little more grit, more tattoos on the staff, and any music other than the soundtrack of La Vie En Rose.
Conversely, I'd happily have paid $10 more for any of the items if they had been prepared more thoughtfully. The duck was a skosh past medium-well and any flavor remaining after the skin was removed was obliterated by the surfeit of pink peppercorns dashed across the dish. The moules frites Scott ordered were fantastic, though, and worth it alone. They arrived propped on hunks of baguette, ready to sop up the sexy bivalve liquor and wine broth. The escargots were similarly pleasant, though the pâte (a rillette of chicken liver with pistachios) was unremarkable.
It occurred to me on the way home, my stomach stretched in painful distention, that I can afford to bitch that my fancy dinner in a French bistro wasn't good enough. Somewhere along my life's path, I became some entitled cunt who looks down her nose at frites that aren't shoestring-thin. I wasn't always this way. (There is a point that I'm going to make, here, I promise.)
When I was a kid, as I've mentioned myriad times, I lived in poverty. My family received every form of government assistance offered, and our meals frequently came from the Oregon Food Bank when the food stamps couldn't be stretched all month. The Oregon Food Bank, unlike many other family aid non-profits and food banks, is not affiliated with any church and does not proselytize the recipients of their services. They just feed hungry people. With the downturn in the economy, requests for emergency food are skyrocketing to record levels, and they need your help.
In the name of staying true to my roots, and maintaining whatever shred of street cred I have left, I've decided to participate in the Blog For Food campaign (in addition to making a donation myself). Please click the logo at the top of this page or any of the links I've inlined in this post and make a donation.
To be part of the official Blog For Food tally, please enter "Blog For Food" in the tribute section on the OFB donation page. Donations may also be mailed to the Oregon Food Bank at PO. Box 55370Portland, OR 97238-5370. Please mention "Blog For Food." The campaign will run from February 1 to February 28, 2009. They're trying to raise (a modest) $5000.
Thanks, you guys! Just think, your donation today may help another precocious little girl grow up to be a snarky food blogger like me.