Liberated from work last night at the unusually early hour of 5:30, I walked home in the sunshine. Passing Hank’s Oyster Bar, usually thronged by 7:30pm, I noticed they had seats outside. I decided to treat myself to dinner al fresco.
My mood of gay abandon increased when I spotted caviar on the menu. What better dinner for an evening of springtime celebration?The caviar came, the menu said, with the usual accompaniments. Now, I don’t eat caviar often enough to be an expert in this matter but, had I stopped to think about it, I am sure I would have expected chopped egg white, chopped egg yolk (both hard boiled of course), finely chopped red onion, some capers and sour cream perhaps,or creme fraiche, maybe some cream cheese. I would also have expected blinis, or melba toast, even a water biscuit would do.
The caviar was served. A cute little jar of black eggs in the middle of a bowl of ice and a little horn spoon. The boiled egg components were in place, and so were the onions and capers. But–imagine the shock–on the rest of the plate were three woody planks of Ryvita and a squiggle of mayonnaise straight from one of those squirty bottles you store upside down on their lids.
I haven’t seen Ryvita since I was at high school and used to pack it with Philly cream cheese for lunch. It’s a sturdy Scandanavian crisp bread that looks–and largely tastes–like corrugated cardboard. I am not sure if they sell it in the States—certainly I have never sought it out in the supermarket. Each sheet looks like a shingle. It is a foodstuff more suited to construction work than fine dining. All out of scale with all the little tiny morsels on the rest of the plate, it was a terrible disappointment, made worse by the mayo which soon formed a yellowish green snail trail on the white plate as it sweated in the late afternoon sun.
Now I realize that caviar-eaters don’t get much sympathy for the trials they suffer in life. And if I was a regular with the sturgeon roe, I am sure I could adapt perfectly well to the occasional disappointment, or at least stay quiet on the subject. But really, this was a very special treat and, as you can tell, the Ryvita really rankled.
My disappointment however, was nothing compared to that of the people seated beside me. They arrived about 30 minutes after me, and had to wait for a table. The man was a particularly restless sort, and was highly agitated by the time they sat down. The anxiety centered on the timing of happy hour. Would they still qualify for the half price oysters? “She’ll have to give them to us” he fretted “It’s not our fault they kept us waiting”
When the waitress came he immediately said “We’ve been waiting ages–can we get the happy hour oysters?”
“You haven’t been waiting that long ” said the waitress “We stopped that at the end of March” Another evening ruined.