Week 28: You Are Not Invited

Week 28: You Are Not Invited

It’s a weekend of merriment and you’re not invited. That’s because it’s our anniversary and we’ve got romance to celebrate people. As I look back on the past year, I see a lot of food, but I also see 365 remarkable days of happiness in addition to the ten pounds I’ve gained in my fupa. (Note: If you seek the definition of “fupa”, ask elsewhere).  Anyway, it’s ten pounds of love my friends. Who would have thought we’d last?  Northerner, Southerner. Democrat, Republican. Mutt, Dutch. Cats, Cows. Moustache, Moustache. Correction: Wax Job, Beard.

It’s the simple and sometimes expensive things that keep us happy and we’ve touched upon all of them this weekend: sake bombing, Bacardi-loaded Coronas, movies, sleeping, sushi, steak, seafood, adults in unitards, Gaspar’s Grotto, PBR and holding hands…. And the distant hope that someday he’ll propose and then one or two or five swimmers will slip by the goalie and we’ll have an army of nuggets to share all of these wonderful things with.

Having kids is no laughing matter, but I’ve had a few wonderful encounters this weekend with the tiny people, and I must say that I simply cannot wait. For example, 4 year old in our suite at Cirque du Soleil: “HEY, HE JUST GOT KICKED IN THE PENIS!”  Awesome. Even though it wasn’t that brilliant of an observation, since everyone could see the poor man’s genitals through his unitard, it was an observation nonetheless and one I was happy he made aloud.  And then there was the 10 year old getting a tongue lashing from his father outside of the St. Pete Times Forum: “I PAID TOO MUCH MONEY FOR THAT SUITE FOR YOU TO JUST TAKE A PISS ON THE FLOOR!”  Oh valiant boy, don’t be ashamed— Ryan does that too.

Charley’s steakhouse was the highlight of the weekend and while I should be writing about our fabulous dinner, charming waiter, massive martinis and more, these are the Sunday Meatball Chronicles and that was Saturday.

So, it’s now Sunday morning and we’ve slept in and taken our precious time deciding on a brunch location. Where to go, where to go. While it is our “special” weekend, I think we’ve already spent enough money and engaged in enough recreation… I’m tired. Screw brunch. Most brunch locations close around 2PM and it’s 1PM so we’re really cutting it close. Part of me wants to go to Three Coins, where the Meatball Chronicles all began and Ryan first told me he’d be interested in genetically engineering our children. It was a special day. But before I can speak my mind, Ryan has decided on The Refinery. Oh well, hopefully it’s another gem in Seminole Heights.

When we arrive there, I’m very pleased with the atmosphere. Very similar venue to Ellas, except they don’t have any cool art or interesting trinkets laying around. The only thing interesting to look at is their customer base. And there, out of the corner of my eye I spot Cliff Leaf.

Cliff Leaf was our rugged and sexy landscaper growing up, and while this man dining at The Refinery this morning is not the real Cliff Leaf, he could be his twin. Looking back, I don’t know that Cliff Leaf’s name was actually Cliff Leaf or if that was just the nature-themed nomenclature he decided upon given his occupation.  When I was a little girl I enjoyed Cliff’s visits, which were not often due to my mother’s love for mowing her own lawn. Cliff only showed up for the “big jobs.”  He resembled the missing link between apes and Neanderthals, or maybe he was just a Neanderthal. I’m not sure, the memory is blurred. Long brown hair, huge muscles, a big beard and dirty hands.  At 8 years old I didn’t know what it meant to be turned on so I’d just sit in the window and imagine him hugging me all over. I’d find reasons to go outside while he was working, like rollerblading through our rock driveway or asking my aunt across the street for a diet soda. We didn’t keep diet soda in my house. My parents didn’t believe in diets.

It’s funny how time changes things. Today, I associate this type of look with artsy, jobless, marijuana smoking, cliff rappelling humans with an undying love for nature and all things unkempt. Nothing wrong with these types of people, they’re just often disgusting and I can’t personally tolerate their lack of keeping up on the times. It’s 2011; there is no need for you to be living in a VW van, following a band cross country, smoking weed, wearing glow stick necklaces and dressing like a bum. It’s people like this that slow down our nation’s productivity and put us so far behind those crazy Asian masterminds.  If there was ever one exception to this “look,” it was Cliff, and he was a God.

Shortly after my mid-afternoon fantasy, we decide to order our food. I’m not in the mood for much and gaze over the biscuits and gravy, but I end up letting Ryan give them a try. I’ll just take the first thing on the menu (I don’t remember the name of it). Now, I know that The Refinery changes their menu every single week and hats off to the cooks and staff for being so flexible and creative. I am going to go ahead and give them benefit of the doubt and say that we chose The Refinery on a dreadful week.

Ryan’s biscuits and gravy were quite bland. And the biscuits were hard. While Ryan may have enjoyed their rock texture and soft warm insides, I don’t really appreciate having to risk a second chip on these pearly whites just to find some warm soft dough in the center. Note: First chip came in college, when I attempted drunk navigating my bedroom in the pitch black. Resulted in face planting into my desk.

Like I said, I can’t remember the name of what I ordered but I chose it because it sounded so mysterious: two grit cakes with poached eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato-based sauce. Well, it turns out that is one of the most offensive combinations you can create. Had the sauce been better I may have enjoyed it, but imagine having perfectly crispy grit cakes, perfectly poached eggs, bacon and spinach. Now separately, imagine eating one of those really shitty microwave spaghetti dinners. When you’re done with the noodles you don’t savor the sauce because it sucks. Yes, imagine dumping all the leftover sauce ALL OVER the beautiful grit cakes, perfectly poached eggs, bacon and spinach. FAIL.

When our waitress came over to check on us I didn’t have the heart to tell her how I really felt. “How is everything?”  “Great (Insert fake smile here).”  Little did she know I would have rather positioned myself in front of the saucer of half and half and lapped it like a cat.

The Refinery has received numerous culinary awards, so they must be doing something right. Maybe awards are based on meal presentation. But presentation doesn’t make the meal. As they say, you can’t polish a turd. Ryan expressed his concern for the latest trends of culinary awards and their recent emphasis on using local and/or organic ingredients. His point was well taken (by me): these obsessions with local farmers may be trumping the simple yet often overlooked requirements for good flavor. It’s very nice that you’re supporting farmer Harry from Methner, but his tomatoes SUCK.

I don’t think they’ll be getting a second visit from us unless it’s for the beer, because they did appear to have a pretty wonderful selection from microbreweries. Oh, and how could I forget, they let you drink out of mason jars. So, if you are looking for an interesting way to consume liquids, a nice beer selection, and a mid-afternoon fantasy surrounding Cliff, The Refinery is your place. If you’d like brunch, try one of the two great gems nearby- Ellas or Three Coins!

The Refinery on Urbanspoon

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  1. [...] of a “world-class” menu. Perhaps my skepticism comes from my unpleasant experience at the Refinery … or my undying love for things that come out of a [...]

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