For those lucky enough to not spend $50 on flowers,
l ast week two weeks ago was Valentine’s Day. If there is one thing I’ve had force-fucked into my cerebellum on social media, its that Valentine’s Day is still a manufactured holiday designed to promote societies archaic notions of heteronormativity, and makes god very angry. My main takeaway from this chatter is that everyone hates Valentine’s Day, unless you’re getting something, in which case Valentine’s Day is an integral component of the dick measuring (clit measuring? Is that a thing?) between you and your co-workers.
I understand how this holiday is unappealing. It’s a reason for you to spend cash when you don’t really want to spend your hard earned cash. This becomes even more unappealing when the mantra is clearly that this is not a “real” holiday.
If you’re single, there seem to be endless lines of semi-condolences sent your way and a reason for you and your friends to get together and shit on love as a construct. Cool. If you’re in a relationship you’re set into an awkward dance with your significant other to present something meaningful without going overboard or giving too few fucks.
Hot take: Valentine’s Day isn’t terrible. I mean, it’s not fucking Thanksgiving, but its not this evil symbol of oppression that a lot make it out to be. Are all of the criticisms I’ve linked above true? No. Do they all have more than a grain of truth to them? Absolutely. But none of that matters because it’s really only about what it means to you and your partner. If there is a disconnect between you two it is likely symptomatic, because if I’ve learned anything from erectile dysfunction ads (other than old people only fuck in tubs) its that small things are often a sign of a larger problem.
Why is this relevant to my blog? Well, on most Valentine’s Days I’m going out to eat with people I love. When I was younger, me my mom and my sister would usually go out to dinner or order something, as I got older that time was filled with friends,dates or significant others. So, for me, this entire holiday always revolved around consuming food that I didn’t have to fucking make, which is an official nice thing.
Much like Hoboken sets aside St. Patrick’s Day for people to be publicly terrible and throw up on the streets, we should have a safe space to be terribly public with our love. Valentine’s Day sets aside a time for us to grossly display love, which should probably be the exception, not the norm. The desire to buy big heart shaped boxes of candy and posting grand proclamations of love in a highly visible way is a flaw in ourselves, but can be endearing and meaningful in small doses.
You can be single too, love yourself and others. Use this opportunity to reach out to someone you’re interested in with candy. We teach kids to do this. Love is something you make on your own terms and reconcile with the person you love. Society, from alt-right homophobes who want you to deny your right to love, and the social justice warriors who want to wag their snooty fucking finger in your face because you’re not loving correctly, can kiss your entire asshole. In the words of Jersey City, make it yours.
To that end, I want to share an experience I had at Liberty Prime. I should note that this was not last week, but in the not-too-distant past where I didn’t have a cunty little platform like Nice Things.
Liberty Prime is a steakhouse, though could be confused for a Tulsa based insurance company, Purple Rain B-side, or the Statue of Liberty’s real Transformer name. It’s the type of place that belongs in a casino, but not in a good way. You go here because everything you’ve ever been told, from childhood to the moment you get seated, is that dimly lit big steakhouses with modern decor are fancy/classy/luxurious.
For anyone who ate at one of these archetypal steakhouses, you know that they’re almost always over-priced and over-hyped, but they represent a level of intent that is designed to elicit feelings of appreciation and care from your companion. Nothing says “I love you” like a $120 porterhouse for two.
I bought this line of bullshit and booked a reservation to go to Liberty Prime on Valentines Day. Look at me and my big swinging, dry-aged dick. My love will be undeniable.
The meal was terrible.
The oysters and $70 bottle of Barolo were very nice. The fuck-you ribeye was unseasoned and cold, which I sent back. The Brussels sprouts with chorizo had no chorizo or really any flavor at all. I had to send back the fancy garlic and whatever fries. Fucking fries? Really? Fries?!? You can’t do fries???
Despite having a blog where I rant about minor inconveniences and shitty food, I’m not one to voice anything but positive affirmations to my server. There’s a Jewish mother deep inside me that would rather silently suffer, rather than have someone address my actual problem. But this was an exception.
I flagged the waiter and expressed my issues. I was fucking hot, because my grand plan of seduction by beef was thwarted. What ensued was a masterclass in customer service.
I. The Waiter
He was like Sam Jackson’s shepard to Tim Roth’s tyranny of evil men. He gave us a trio of desserts that we didn’t ask for and comped everything but the oysters and booze. At this point, I’m a little Fonzy, cooled out, being cool. Then, as I’m leaving, he takes me to the side and asks for my email so I can ask the owner to reach out and personally apologize to me. At this point I’ve already tipped this guy like 25% on the original bill, so he’s made his nut – no reason for this additional step. Skeptically, I give this guy my email address and expect to never hear from him or set foot in Liberty Prime again.
II. The Owner
The next morning I get an email from one of the owners of Liberty Prime profusely apologizing for everything under the sun and asking if I would come back and give them another shot. I sent a deferential reply; it’s not his fault, it was Valentine’s Day, it was super busy, you’ve been under a lot of stress at work – this kinda thing happens to a lot of guys. He was adamant about how my experience would be different if I came back. I said sure, with no intention on going back, and the conversation ended.
III. The Manager
Months go by. I was at Park & Sixth/Luna (honestly can’t remember which it was at the time) having a drink and my phone buzzes with an email alert. It was from the manager at Liberty Prime, who was following up on a conversation I had with the owner 4 fucking months ago. He said “he would still like to show us what Liberty Prime has to offer” and asked if we would like a table at 7:15. Sensing an opportunity to get a few free drinks, I take the reservation and me and my girlfriend make plans.
IV. The Other Waiter
The last time we went, we were seated in what I can only describe as the mezzanine. Upstairs, by a non-operational bar, out of the way. This time, we were flying first class. There were big black and red leather chairs, ornate figurines of bulls and modern….stuff on the walls. It’s what I imagine the set design would be if Tim Burton directed El Chapo’s biopic.
We are approached by a waiter, which I say exclusively. This was not an employee. He was not a man. Not a human. Not a living organism. He was a waiter. He was, to our delight, what Sartre would call living in Bad Faith. He also looked like Jon Taffer.
White shirt, black vest. Polished shoes. White napkin draped over his forearm. There was a theatrical element to his essence, but serious. The way this guy moved was too elegant to be robotic, but to precise to be human. Everything he did or said had intent, and that intent was to make sure we had a real fancy dinner. He guided us through the menu, made appropriate suggestions and wine pairings. He picked up an all non-verbal queues, smiled, confirmed, politely nudged. He was Liberty Prime’s unofficial Director of Public Relations. It was flawless.
I didn’t have any issues with the meal. I certainly didn’t have any issues with the service. And as a result, I didn’t expect to have much – if anything – comped. I ask for the bill and they comp the whole fucking thing. At this point in time I probably owe Liberty Prime $400 in Choice rib eye and red wine.
Our meal was fine. It didn’t blow me away, but it was a serviceable steak – if expensive. Apps, sides, everything was fine. Nothing on your plate will ever blow you away here, but the service is so remarkable that it warrants a blog post almost two years later.
We don’t give enough credit for good service. An ideal dining experience for many nowadays would be live-tweeting themselves watching pictures of food as Soylent is directly pumped into their stomachs. Exceptional service can go so far to advance an average meal. It won’t make a bad meal good. But it can turn an average meal into something remarkable.
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