Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Dinner Theater

Mr. C&G surprised us last night with a mystery dinner reservation to celebrate Valentine's day a little early. The little C&G's and I were totally unable to guess our destination until we were circling Exchange Street looking for an elusive parking spot. And Mr. C&G let slip a vital clue, about how we were late and they were holding a special spot for us. . . 

That could only mean one thing. The seats at the kitchen bar of the always delicious Grill Room. One of our favorite restaurants, we've always wanted the premium seats overlooking all the action in the kitchen. They're available if you call ahead, and we usually remember that just as we're walking through the door. The boys were so excited to be front and center for all the action on a busy night.

The Grill Room is a very popular Portland restaurant, not particularly fancy but we did ask the boys to put on a collared shirt. Which means good behavior is expected. Of course that wasn't a problem with all the kitchen drama going on in front of us, they were so entranced that we hardly heard a peep from them the entire night.

Cocktails were the first order of business, of course, and the Grill Room has an interesting specialty cocktail menu. Mr. C&G started with a "Remember the Maine" (Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Cheery Heering, Kubler Absinthe) and I stuck with my recent Aperol theme of a champagne cocktail (Cava, Aperol, Bitters, and a sugar cube). Big C&G ordered his oj mixed with seltzer (bubbles always make anything fancy!), and Little C&G stuck with his usual, he's a water man.

The bustling activity in front of us was fascinating and the staff was very friendly with the boys. The kitchen bar overlooks the salad prep area, the wood burning oven, and the flaming cooktops that dish up everything but the grilled steaks. Veggies were getting tossed, fry pans filled with mussels were bursting into flames with a few shots of wine, pizzas were coming and going from the oven. It was total theater for all of us. Our salad prep friend was also in charge of the pizza making, so Little C&G got to watch his custom-ordered pesto pizza being made (and ask nicely for a little extra cheese). Big C&G would have jumped over the counter to raid the caesar salad supply. 

We had a lovely grown-up Valentine's dinner with the boys, and we were all completely entertained for the evening. They got to see the backstage workings of the restaurant and the kitchen guys got to show off their skills (flames, knives, scallops . . . ). And we got to have some cocktails and conversation. A wonderful and thoughtful surprise from Mr. C&G!


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