Fine Dining Tramp

The announcement of Mark’s iconic LA restaurant, Campanile, closing has met with many stunned expressions.  Regular folk commenting on their Facebook page or in person how sad they are, how much they will miss it.  I love the respect and attention Mark and his staff are getting.

My sister and I couldn’t help injecting some humor into the final days. We created “Occupy Campanile” shirts.  The slogan, “So, we can still eat like the 1%”.  

I have had a lot of insomnia trying to conceive how it will feel on November first when we can no longer go there.  How will Mark feel?  I can’t wrap my brain around it.  They are doing a final blow bash on Oct. 31, all you can eat and drink for $89 ( the year they opened).  Black and White masked ball.  I’m taking the kids trick or treating, then deposit them with a sitter and go to the final soiree.

What time should the drunken crying start?

Lot’s of taxis will be called and I’m having the sitter spend the night and take the kids to school the next morning. I’m fully expecting Mark and I to be wiped out. I’ll be hung over, but I think we will both be emotionally exhausted.

However.. I’m enjoying every last minute of Campanile.  Vivien looks at me after we have done her homework, “Are you going out tonight, AGAIN?”

“Yes, I told you I’m going out a lot to the restaurant.  I’ll be home in November rocking back and forth in a dark room.”

Every night, it’s with someone different.  I’m a fine dining slut.  One night with my sisters and mom.  The next night with my friend Inge Lise, the other day I had a lunch date and a dinner date in the same day.  I walked to dinner to work off lunch. Two in a day. Such a fine dining hussy.

Then the kids and I got dressed up and met up with my “school husband” my co room parent Jasen and his son.  We also brought Flat Holden, a representative of our friend in Nashville, and enjoyed the last ever fried chicken night at Campanile.The next night I went there with a couple. Such a harlot.

Then I went with my entire dinner club, past and present, and a couple of babies.  It was my dinner club that lead me to meet Mark and then get asked out by Mark.

Magic moments have occurred here for me, and many others.  I’ve been so fortunate to have this dining salon to meet old friends and make new ones.  I’m not taking this lying down.  I’m sitting up, chatting and eating.

What a way to go.

The Gorbals

This is an LA eatery, but I thought it might be interesting to those of you elsewhere who watch Top Chef.  Ilan Hall won the second season and he opened The Gorbals in downtown LA.  It is in a Funky space with a capital funk.  In the lobby of a residential hotel.  The hotel has the trappings to be something swanky-marble floors, high ceilings- if redevelopment every makes it to 5th and Spring, but for now it’s still an honest to goodness residential hotel.

I had set this up to be my dinner clubs visit for the month with my co-founder John.  I am a big believer in institutionalizing rituals or else you never see anyone.  I have been seeing this people for the better part of 6 years and we love getting together.  I took most of ’09 off for various (or obvious) reasons, but trying to pull it together for the new decade.  Our coed group met in the spartan, yet chic bar.  They have some great beers on tap.  We sat at a communal table and enjoyed the Jewish/Scottish food as Hall calls it.  Bacon wrapped around Matzo ball is a first, but quite tasty.  No, he is not keeping kosher.  We liked everything, but his fried chicken which was batter heavy, but the pork ribs, the cucumber chick pea salad, everything else was great.  There were flickering votives that made the room feel cozy.  A review of it here.

Either in spite of or because of the off the beaten track (or rather, the very beaten track) the Gorbals feel like a secret.  Check it out.

Side Bar:  I met Chelsea Handler.  I always like to support female comics since any guy with a pulse who comes off of Saturday Night Live seem to get movie deals and funny women have a harder time of it.  We were at a dinner for a bunch of chefs, but since it was sponsored by Belvedere vodka they had to invite the gal who had Vodka in the title of her book.  She was there and was about to leave with a large group.  I had to tap her on her shoulder.  I told her I was a fan.  She was very nice and gracious and not at all like some boozy, crazy like some of her funny books would make her seem.  I didn’t say, “Hey some people say I’m the mom version of you” as that would have sounded kind of stalky.