Sometimes going out for a small glass, has its perils. Such as last night.
My friend was in from Portland. She wanted to case out Lowcountry on west 10th. Night, with Jupitor piggybacking the moon, was balmy. I locked up my bike. She, who has been boxing, had new cut arms. Nice. We looked at the wines by the glass. Supermarket selections which made us suspicious of their cocktails. Our instincts told us, go.
Her final destination was Blue Hill so we thought, what the hell, maybe we can hang out at the bar at Babbo. It's been a while. Yes, Babbo is a star-studded place and phooey on us that we think we can go just because we're native New Yorkers and know Babbo back when Mario was in that small spot on Cornelia Street.
We score a seat at the bar. Unbelievable. It was there waiting for us, it was fated. Jupiter was on our side.
We plunk our coats on the stool and consider the options. We are thinking about the Schiopetto sauvignon, we finally get some attention, get a little taste. I forgot that I never liked the producer but this reminded me; skunky and then blasting with sweetened grapefruit juice. Nix.
She goes for some Abruzzo white blend (mostly pecorino) and I go for the Lini Lambrusco, which I just had the week before at Rachel's in Bklyn. Anyway, I know Lini and I know it mostly to be a safe zone in questionable waters. After all, we're not in David Lynch (past somm) territory anymore.
Glasses arrive. The Lini is supposed to be a glass but it's as big as a quartino. Her white is not thrilling, but decent. The Lini is flat and sweet.
I'm afraid to speak up. But then the woman behind the bar looks at us, cockeyed, like what the hell are you doing here? Silently, she starts setting up the place in front of us for service. We have the feeling we're getting displaced, but first I ask, "I know this wine and this is awfully sweet, and there's no fizz:
"It's always a fruit forward wine," she says.
Fruit forward? Heck, it was a cold port with no frizzante. I suppose, who is going to order Lambrusco at Babbo? The juice in my glass, was that flat sickly sweet chestnut honey liquid that needed a pecorino--in cheese form.
Then she delivers the punchline: "You have to move." A guest will be dining where we were hovering. Lisa and I, not exactly Thelma and Louise, but friends for enough years we often don't need words. We look around, there is no spot to move to. None. We slowly take our coats and split without paying our bill or taking more than a sip each from our glasses.
Now, Lisa D. is a restaurant pro and I've been around the block a few times. The ethics cops would tell us...what? We were wrong for stiffing the bartenders? On the other hand could you say that if we had paid our bill we were the victims of bandits?
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what would you do?
(we went across the street to NorthSquare. Upon entry we were greeted. Lisa said, "Already the service is better."
We passed plenty of bottom spread and congenial gray hair, and then in the back boite, Crochet rosé--$12. We paid, we tipped, we conquered.)