Friday, June 6, 2008

Dinner for one. 611.

Gradually - so gradually I am not sure how it happened - my schedule has changed, so I get up at what still seems to be the ungodly hour of 6:30 and get to work about 7:00, which means I am usually off work by 3 or 4 in the afternoon. This leaves me with a few hours after work to hang out in coffee shops, a few hours in which to write before I go home to dinner. (I like this better than the old days, when I would do all my writing after dinner, while sitting on the floor watching tv). Now I find it hard to write at home, with its distractions of television and other Things To Explore on the internet and snacks and books that need to be put away. (Most of my writing is now done on a new laptop, on which I have not transferred my browser bookmarks, leading to fewer distractions). Sometimes I stop in Caffé Vita, which is directly on the way home from work, but more often I head to Bauhaus, which is rather more out of the way.

Bauhaus is at the edge of Capitol Hill, before you slide down Pine Street into Downtown Seattle. One giant wall is lined with shelves and shelves of old books, which I never see anyone reading. A long counter runs along the windows on one side, and a handful of tables are filled with hipsters catching up with friends. Upstairs in the mezzanine filled with more tables, usually of students working on projects or writing away on their laptops. More tables and chairs run along the building out on the sidewalk, filled with more young hipsters (most of them smoking away furiously) who seem to know everyone who walks past. I order some mint tea (usually I have a soda) and tuck myself away in a corner to write for a few hours.

Three hours and 2,000 words later I realize that it is 7 o'clock. The bright sky is deceptive; summer is almost here. Time for dinner. I could walk home and reheat some leftovers, or I could reward myself for my hard work and walk up the street to 611 Supreme for a dinner of crêpes. It's been a long week. Crêpes it is. The restaurant is mostly empty, although there seems to be quite a lot of people in the bar. 611 is divided into two rooms, the bar, with couches and low tables on one side and the high-stooled bar on the other, and the restaurant, with small tables partitioned off from the kitchen by carved wooden screens. It is a simple place, with exposed brick walls and wooden tables painted with insects. A chalkboard displays the special of the day - braised pork belly - and the menu lists a handful of plats and savory crêpes stuffed with all sorts of good things - vegetables and cheeses and ham or smoked salmon, various combinations calculated to tempt the palate.

I think about the ham and cheese crêpe, or the one filled with spinach and tomatoes and onions, but then I decide on the mushroom crêpe. It comes filled with sautéed mushrooms, portabellos, I think, with a creamy sauce, sprinkled with finely chopped parsley. It is savory and earthy and tastes so good I want another one, but I want dessert more. Usually I only come here for dessert, and order the richer sweet crêpes filled with chocolate mousse or Nutella and ice cream and topped with créme chantilly, but tonight they seem too heavy after my creamy mushroom crêpe. Besides, I have always wanted to try the one they call l'Orange. This crêpe has an orange-butter filling, fragrant with zest, scattered with chocolate shavings, topped with a blob of whipped cream and fresh orange slices on the side. It is light and not too sweet, but just sweet enough, just enough to round out my dinner and make me feel complete.

It is growing dark now, as I walk home. I am full and happy and wrapped in a fog of cigarette smoke - they used to allow smoking at Bauhaus, and even though you can't smoke there anymore the walls still seem to smell of it - and in all it has been a good day.

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