I used to watch cooking shows while working out at the gym. This was a Very Long Time Ago, back when I could touch my toes without bending my knees. I'd time my workouts around a PBS series with two British women who cooked Italian food at London's River Cafe.
They weren't the least bit glamorous, these chefs, but their food had panache, culinary cleavage. With stunning, close-up photography and a clean, bright palette, the series showcased Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers' cooking and made their creations both accessible and aspirational. I bought two of their cookbooks in quick succession.
Several weeks ago, as our Europe trip approached, I reserved a table for four at the River Cafe. On the online reservation form, I noted that my party would include "two very well behaved young children."
When we entered the restaurant, the hostess greeted us: "Welcome to The River Cafe. It looks like you've come with two very well behaved young children!" I'd forgotten about my note but laughed when I realized why she'd chosen those words.
She showed us to our table.
The waiter arrived a few moments later. "May I get you a drink?" he asked.
He added, smiling, "Your children look very well behaved."
This time I chuckled louder.
A long, seafoam-colored counter extended the length of the brightly lit room, chefs working quietly behind. The space twinkled. It glowed, really. Couples clinked glasses. At our table, we toasted Colin's sabbatical, my birthday, and our kids.
Dinner was beyond lovely. There was prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe, hearth-roasted langoustines, pillowy pasta with pesto, lamb with salsa verde, and a perfect almond tart with fresh strawberries.
As we were leaving, a diner beckoned me over to his table. "Excuse me, ma'am, but I just wanted to tell you that your children were very well behaved."
Now wait, was he in on the joke, too?