Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The pleasure of good company


I had the pleasure of dining with fellow atheist and blogger Martin Williams. We met at Haven Gastropub in the City of Orange for a long of conversation on their heated patio. It was a warm and wonderful night full of great conversation and mediocre food.

Martin writes No 2 Religion. I consider him a comrade in arms.He reads what I write. I do the same for what he writes. We share similar political views, and I think we have the same laidback California temperament.

But I digress… the food was less than spectacular for such a high rated restaurant. I did not say the beer was bad though. What they offered on tap was refreshing. They should rename the restaurant to House of Salt & Suds.

I ordered their homemade potato chips to start. They were a greasy mess, and so salty I could barley taste the chips. I killed time while waiting for Martin by removing the salt from the chips. They were served with a garlic aioli that was neither garlic nor aioli. Frankly, it tasted like mayo. Oh well. Strike one.

Martin arrived late because of an epic car accident which actually made the local news. I killed time watching the locals and eating salty chips. Things were going well until the hipsters starting arriving. They came in pairs. There were lots of them. I’m not a fan of this inane cultural trend. Hipsters suck. Strike two – A restaurant packed full-o-hipsters will not attract foodies unless they are into watching pretentious kids.

Martin and I discussed all things atheism and almost everything else of shared interest; like photography. What struck me as odd was that the experience was not odd. I’m used to meeting very odd atheists. In almost all my past social interactions, I’ve been thwarted by nutballs. Be it the former Wicca now Goth couple hosting an OC event, the hater rantings of the backyard skeptics, or the sex cult nutball who, while dressed in white robes and walking stick, tried to convince me that he deserved worship and servitude. By contrast, Martin was normal, and a nice guy too. I genuinely enjoyed myself.

Back to the food and strike three. I ordered the lamb burger (onion jam, tzatziki, onion sprouts, rosemary brioche bun) – they forgot to mention salt in the ingredients. Oh my… the meat was a perfect medium-well, but the stuff that surrounded the burger tasted like it was rolled in sea salt. I ate the thing, but it did not satisfy. I prefer the lamb sandwich from the Lime Truck.  For those of you in Waco – we have trucks that serve gourmet food here in SoCal… I’m just saying.

What I took away from my experience with Martin is that I need to try stepping out of my protective shell more often. I must open myself to meeting more of my readers, and more of the local community of atheists. It can’t be all bad (it has been up to this point). I’ve even offered to speak at his atheist meetup group the next time I’m up on the central coast.

Where Haven Gastropub really let me down was dessert. I tried their bacon ice cream. I was ready for a foodgasm. Instead I needed water to clear my palate. No bacon. No bacon flavor, and no beer flavor in the brownie it was sitting on. There was no flavor at all really. Just salt. More salt than I’ve ever had on anything. It was horrible.

The final insult was the bill. Haven Gastropub is horribly overpriced. I’m going to call it 30% above what I would be willing to pay elseware. What can I say… I did not like the place. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve made a new friend in Martin. So, the night goes down in my book as a win. Thanks Martin.

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