My dad is out to dinner with the boys; my mother is off in Mexico City at a conference, and I am off work a little after five. I may as well head down to Quinn's Pub for a little dinner by myself. Only a few tables downstairs are occupied, but I am swept up into the completely empty room upstairs, leaving me wondering if I am just not cool enough to be on the main floor, in front of those endless windows that look out onto the hipster-littered street outside. But more pressing matters are on hand, such as what should I have for dinner. The menu has changed; I haven't been here in a while. Gone are the gnocchi with braised oxtail, and the rabbit pot pie is a distant memory. My server rescues me with a special of the day: shrimp bisque. With the soup and some marrow bones on toast, I should have a very nice dinner indeed, and I settle in with my book (Monica Dickens' One Pair of Hands) to wait for it all to arrive.
First is the shrimp bisque, foamy and pink in a deep white bowl. The bowl has a dramatically flared collar that reminds me a little of those plastic cones vets put around a dog's neck to prevent them licking at a wound. The white funnel of the rim frames the frothing peach-pink soup, sweet with fat kernels of corn and chunks of shrimp and fine shreds of leeks, punctuated with the salty intensity of bacon, tender rounds of potato. It is creamy, but not thick, light and smooth. I wish there was more, but then my marrow bones arrive, swathed in paper napkins and heaped with an onion-pepper relish on a plate stacked with triangles of toast, a little salad of mixed greens, and a spoonful of sea salt. The roasted marrow bones are burning hot, their squidgy insides melting wildly all over the plate, defying my vain attempts to scoop out the marrow with my knife, and I wind up mopping the pools of what is essentially beef fat and onion-pepper relish with the toast. The few bits of soft marrow that I do rescue are spread on the lightly grilled toast and sprinkled with a little bit of the salt, a savory and vastly satisfying snack.
Satisfied as I am, there is still a little corner left for dessert. My server goes over the night's choices, and I spring for the homemade s'more. I love s'mores, and summer is drawing to a close. I don't know when I will have the chance for one again. This s'more has a base of graham cracker crust, a filling of what is pretty much a dense chocolate fudge, and an airy golden pouf of homemade marshmallow topped with crunchy bits of coconut. It is all wrong - s'mores should be eaten outside, at a barbecue, the marshmallow slightly burnt around the edges, melting over a piece of Hershey's chocolate and a piece of graham cracker that is perilously close to cracking and falling all over your lap - and yet all perfect, the rich chocolate and molten marshmallow and crunchy-crumbly crust. I want more, but I have had enough. I will have to come back again.