Poole’s Diner

I do not feel amazing this morning.

That, however, is due entirely to the fact that I ate too much at Poole’s last night.  Also, I had leftover macaroni and cheese for breakfast with my coffee.

I am not sorry about any of it.

I put “eat at Poole’s Diner” first on my “We Shall Ace This Year” list.  It’s one of those things I’ve been saying I would do since they opened.  I’ve had drinks at Poole’s.  I’ve had bar food at Poole’s. But until last night, I’d never had a meal at Poole’s.

The reason is a good one: dinner + tip at Poole’s last night was $60.  That is four to six times the amount I’d typically be able to pay for dinner out.  I am not a $60 dinner girl.  I am an Intern Architect, which means I make 20% less more per year than when I was a public school teacher.  That’s before we talk about the twelve weeks off and benefits I used to have.  So, $60 goes a long way towards necessities, in my household, and it’s not an amount I’d normally throw around on macaroni and cheese.

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But then, this is not just any macaroni and cheese.  This is Poole’s macaroni and cheese.  I talked Willow into coming with me.  We decided to do it right, this not being something we do often, and thus we ordered everything. Almost.  We had a solid 45 minute wait, which we enjoyed over cocktails.  I had a Dark and Stormy, which was quite difficult to carry while navigating the unpleasantly tight space in a Saturday night crowd, and we had to wait some time before we even found a place to perch with our drinks.  Then we kind of elbowed our way to our seats at the bar, and then had to take turns elbowing our way back to the chalkboard menu as we loomed uncomfortably over people trying to eat their dinners in peace as we tried to read it.  (There has GOT to be a better way to do that.)  We eventually made it back to the counter to confer on our order.  Willow was smart enough to have taken notes.  I didn’t bother, because I already knew I was getting macaroni and cheese, at a minimum.

In the end, we went with First Frost beer, and crunchy-yet-soft baguettes with homemade butter, and I got chicken with brussels sprouts while Willow got beef with grits, and we split the macaroni and cheese.  For good measure, we also shared the fried banana split with coffee ice cream, and finished it all with a perfect cup of coffee.  So yes, we spent $60 each, but wow. That was a pile of food and drinks, and it was all good.  Better than good.  Worth it, for something you do that rarely.

The most perfect bite, if you make me pick, was the grits.  Even if you don’t think you like grits, you’ll like these, just about pearl-sized and creamy enough to melt in your mouth.  I’d rank the baguette second, and the mac and cheese third, and everything else fourth, although everything else was just plain delicious to start with.

My budget is wrecked anyway, y’all.  I’m leaving for Europe this week, and I bought Merlefest tickets, and early-bird Hopscotch tickets.  I’m 99% sure of being laid off on March 1, but I figured if I have Merlefest in the spring and Hopscotch in the fall taken care of before unemployment, then 2013 is already shaping up to be great.

Dinner at Poole’s: icing on the cake, or a celebration of big changes ahead, or a last hurrah before things get all La Bohème up in my house, and I’m writing by flickering candlelight in fingerless gloves while someone sings me “Che Gelida Manina.

Actually, that’s not a bad way to do poverty.  I don’t think it’ll come to that, though.  For now, I’m off for a pre-Super Bowl nap to combat the macaroni and cheese haze I’m in, to make room for tamales later. Go team go!

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