So going back to the theme of stories from a super long time ago, this post is going to be about something that happened on January 3rd. Specifically, a dinner that happened on January 3rd.
But first, a little background. Charleston is famous for having phenomenal restaurants (a fact I can attest to), so whenever anyone comes to visit me I make sure to take advantage of the fact that I can use that opportunity to go out to restaurants not by myself. Additionally, due to a complicated and convoluted series of events, I owed boyfriend a fancy dinner. So, when he came to visit me, we decided to make a reservation at what is supposedly the third best restaurant in Charleston: Circa 1886.
We had no idea what we were in for.
Now I’m going to be honest. Boyfriend and I were both very fortunate to grow up in families with the means to go to fancy restaurants, so neither of us are a stranger to upscale places. And we’ve even taken quite a few dates of our own at some pretty fancy places (which is part of why I owed him). But this place was on a whole new level that neither of us had ever experienced before.
For starters, it had a dress code. That’s really nothing new – I’ve been to places with dress codes before – but I’d like to use that to level set. I wore a nice dress and flats, but once we got there I felt like I should had dressed up even more. We were also definitely the youngest people there, except for maybe one or two of the women we saw come in with older men (boyfriend decided that either a lot of dads were taking their daughters out to dinner, or there was something suspicious going on).
They also had the tables arranged so that two people sat at a square table, but they sat on the two sides perpendicular to each other rather than across from each other so you weren’t so far away. We actually both decided that was rather nice because it meant you didn’t have to talk as loudly and the restaurant was rather quiet. On the other hand, we both felt like we practically had to whisper all night because we didn’t want to be disruptive! Though that particular case was probably not helped by the fact that about 90% of what we said had something to do with how fancy the restaurant was.
The waiter told us that the menu was portioned for three courses, so we decided to go all out and order all three. (Which were all delicious, in case you were wondering.) This meant between the two of us we got a total of six plates, and no two of the six were the same. They weren’t even all the same color – my appetizer came on a white plate and his came on a black one. I can’t confirm this because we didn’t order everything on the menu, but I suspect that every dish has a different plate. Oh, and we each got a glass of wine and those came in different sized/shaped glasses as well.
And they gave us free soup. Not everyone got that, but it seemed like many people did, so our best guess was that they gave it to everyone was a first timer there. It caused some serious discussion over the properly fancy way to finish a bowl of soup. Boyfriend ultimately went for tipping his bowl, but I didn’t feel like that was classy enough, so I just took really, really small spoonfuls which was incredibly inefficient. I think the correct way to do it was probably just to leave some in there, but the soup was really good and the bowl was really small and neither of us wanted to let it go to waste.
And then there was the series of bathroom-related adventures. Boyfriend got up to go to the bathroom at one point and left his napkin on his chair, as one would tend to do. The waiter brought us our wine while he was gone, and before leaving the table said waiter picked the napkin up off the chair, refolded it, and put it back on the table. I had to work pretty hard to contain my giggles, and then even harder when boyfriend came back with a look of shock on his face upon seeing his napkin folded and on his place. Later, when I went to the bathroom, I folded my napkin in advance, even though I decided a person who normally went to those kinds of restaurants probably wouldn’t have. I also discovered that, rather than paper towels, the bathrooms had actual, individual hand towels that you used and then placed in a basket. Very fancy indeed.
Also the bread service. This restaurant, like many others, provides some rolls and butter for free. But unlike most other places, they don’t just leave it in a basket on the table. They brought us each a small bread plate around the time they brought out the wine, and then our waitress (because we had both a dedicated waiter and a dedicated waitress) came around with a basket and put an individual roll on each of our plates, set down a tiny bowl of butter, and walked away with the basket. Important note on the butter: you know how sometimes in movies and on TV you see food served with a metal dome on top of the plate and then the server removes it to reveal the food? The butter had one of those. No joke.
So anyway, we both enjoyed our rolls and then our appetizers when they were brought out after that. I was a little surprised that they didn’t take away our bread plates when they took the appetizer plates, because they seemed to be working very hard to keep the table as clear as possible, but it didn’t take long before we found out why. The waitress came around with the basket again and gave us each a second roll. And, while she was at it, she put the metal cover back on the butter we’d used maybe one quarter of, removed it, and set down a fresh butter. Neither boyfriend or I could contain ourselves on that one – we both looked at each other and erupted into giggles as soon as she walked away.
The waitress also came around with a little metal thing and brushed the crumbs off the table between dinner and dessert. So there was that.
All in all, I ended up spending $180 on dinner, including tip, but the food was phenomenal and honestly for the experience alone I’d say it was worth it. Boyfriend and I had a great time, even if the only thing we could talk about for the majority of the night was how fancy the restaurant was and what was the appropriately classy way we should act.
Although, I will say I’m going to be pretty disappointed if I live the rest of my life only to find that the fanciest restaurant I’d ever been to was when I was 22. Eventually we’re going to have to find a way to top it. 🙂