It all started with a couple of closed roads, a smattering of missed turns & before we knew it we found ourselves heading west on the Gardner. Thinking on our feet we figured we might as well give the Liberty Belle Bistro a whirl if we were going to be in that neck of the woods. Not sure as to the exact location, L reluctantly wrestled with J`s Blackberry with all the grace of a mule trying to deal a hand of Canasta. Eventually he found his way to their website only to see Liberty Belle was unexpectedly closed that evening.
We got off the highway & decided to drive around Toronto trying to find not only parking, but also a table for 2 at 7:30 on a Friday at some of the city's more desirable restaurants. Enoteca Sociale had room for us, but they wanted the table back in an hour. Still full of pith & vinegar at this point we thumbed our collective nose at them & headed still further west. Campagnolo said they might have something in an hour and a half. The hell with Dundas, to College!
On College a cop pulled us over & gave J a grilling over suspected use of a Blackberry while driving. Had we not left our Tec in the dresser, our whole night could have taken a very different turn right there. Thankfully J kept her cool & L had already swallowed all his drugs way earlier in the evening so eventually the po po had no choice but to let us go.
No improvement on College as we continued to butt our heads against the windows of various restaurants like hungry bluebottles. Hungry bluebottles who, by this time, were in need of a washroom & were regretting having left home without a jacket. Acadia looked empty, but apparently not empty enough for the likes of us as they ushered us away. Grace at least had the decency to look busy before giving us the brush off. As a last resort, we decided to make do with Sidecar, but by this stage our desperation was clinging to us like an especially malodorous stench for they too wanted nothing to do with us.
Eventually even Jesus's 'rents had to make do with a musty old manger full of straw & that seemed to work out ok for all involved, so we finally settled on Hey Meatball. We had high hopes that after such a tortuously prolonged preamble, the glorious release of finally eating something, anything, would thrill & delight. Sadly, delayed gratification can go one of two ways & the downward trajectory of the night proved too steep to reverse.
To be fair to Hey Meatball, the fault lies at least partially with us. Hunger had rendered us incapable of exercising clear headed judgement over their limited menu & we found ourselves ordering not only the pork balls with tomato sauce on penne but also the vegetarian option, which was mushroom & ricotta balls on polenta with a parmesan cream.
The first few bites were sufficiently euphoric (how could they not be?) but then Jack Nicholson seemed to enjoy making out with that dead naked woman in room 237 in The Shining, at least until he realised what he was dealing with. Not that we're saying that the mushroom balls tasted like kissing a corpse we hasten to add, just that at first the polenta was pleasing & the sauce was powerfully cheesy, but slowly it crept up on you, the awareness that what you were eating was meatballs for people who love animals so much that they don't mind eating unpleasant food. We love animals too, just, well you know... not enough to stop eating them, the deliciously tasty bastards.
Heartless monsters that we are, we fared somewhat better with the pork balls which tasted as if they had been freshly made with not a little love, but they just didn't compare with those at 7 Numbers; no shame in itself, but if all you are going to do is meatballs, then you had better make sure those are some pretty fine meatballs. Biggest disappointment was the tomato sauce which we both found way too sweet for our pallets. You may feel differently, that's fine, we can still be friends, it just wasn't for us that's all we're saying. On another day, under less trying circumstances, we might have shuffled into Hey Meatball for a quick bite & been thoroughly charmed, but this particular Friday it just wasn't the place for us that we needed it to be. Like so many things in life, it's a question of context. Take Pepe Le Pew for example. On the one hand, beloved children's cartoon character. On the other, inter-species rapist.
Coda: When we left we were still a bit peckish & shamefully we decided to go to Off The Hook on the way home for fish & chips. As we sat & waited, & waited, & waited it became clear that the waitress had screwed up our order. After 50 minutes with no food and no apology & to be honest, a bit of attitude when we asked about the whereabouts of our food, and people being served who arrived 25 minutes after us, we did the march out without paying, although not before noticing the creepy centipede things crawling up the mirror on the back wall. Anyway, we're not going to make a whole song & dance out of it; it's a new place, the fish is really good & anyone can have an off day, but seriously, what a shitty Friday. And you know whose fault it is, ultimately? Of course you do. That little bitch Rebecca Black.
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