383 South Main
In honor of my Flyer article encouraging parents to take their kids to fine dining establishments coming out and my strong desire to eat tuna carpaccio with fried oysters, my mom and I took the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3) to Spindini at 5:00pm on a Wednesday night prior to the 6:00pm showing of “If You Give a Pig a Party” at the Orpheum.
Just so you know, I called ahead to see how they felt about me bringing in a couple of monkeys. The hostess said, “Oh we love having kids! Families come in all the time!”
Okay, you asked for it.
I had my mom print out the menu so we could have our orders ready as soon as we sat down. (We only had an hour to eat and get to the Orpheum.) My game plan for the monkeys was to see what the soup of the day was and then ask them to choose between spaghetti, lasagna, or pizza. The pizzas on the menu are all pretty fancy, but I figured getting a cheese pizza would not be hard. My mom commented that it was hard to decide on something to eat when it was 4:00pm in the afternoon. I had to agree. Five o’clock was awfully early for dinner. However, I didn’t think I could ask the monkeys (or Spindini) to eat at 7:30pm when the show was over.
We picked the monkeys up from school right at 4:30pm. Of course, this was snack time and they were both happily eating rice cakes.
“Are you going to be hungry for dinner?” I asked.
“Yes, yes,” they assured me.
As we headed downtown there was a bit of a quandary as to where to park. My original plan was to park next to the Orpheum, walk to Spindini, and then walk back to the Orpheum. However, our lovely overcast 72 degree day had suddenly become a very windy and rainy 45 degree day. I thought about catching the trolley for the short trip, but depending on the schedule, we could end up waiting longer than it would take to walk. After much internal strife, I ended up parking at Spindini with plans to drive to the Orpheum lot after dinner. (I’m sorry, Al! It was cold and wet and I didn’t have an umbrella or proper outerwear for my children!)
I pulled in and the valet came over and took my name. I got everyone out of the car and watched as the valet drove ten feet to the first available parking space. It’s silly that they have a valet, really, but whatever. Inside, there were a few people watching TV in the lounge area and maybe one table in the back by the pizza oven. We were seated at a nice table opposite the bar. The white table cloth was decoratively covered with brown butcher paper, so I immediately took out a couple of pens and let the monkeys doodle. (I'm pretty sure all the tables were covered--not just the one reserved for monkeys!)
The first thing Jiro did was blow out the candle on the table. The waiter came over to relight it, but I said, "He'll only blow it out again." To which my mom countered, "I like the candle light." So he re-lit it. And about two seconds later Satchel blew it out much to my disgust. My mom either didn't notice or knew a losing battle when she saw one.
Our waiter took our drink orders—water all around—and asked if I’d like for him to bring the kids some water in a short glass. Before I could answer, my mom, who had a lap full of water thanks to Satchel at Umai last week, said, “YES!”
Jiro took one sip of his water, looked at me with his puppy dog eyes and said, “Can I have some Spwite?”
“Okay,” I said and put in his order. Meanwhile, Satchel started blowing bubbles in his water and Jiro was soon to follow. I snatched up the straws and in my meanest most scariest voice said, "NO.BLOWING.BUBBLES."
"Yes, mam," they said. (I love it when they call me mam!)
My mom determined that the soup of the day was potato leek and the monkeys decided that they wanted pizza. So I ordered tuna carpaccio for myself, a cup of soup for Satchel, a pizza that was half-Roman and half-cheese (the waiter said that was okay to do), and a side order of Italian spinach for us to share. My mom, who was still not very hungry, ordered a cup of soup and the appetizer special—something with artichoke hearts and cheese, I think. The waiter asked if we’d like the soup and appetizers right away and we said, “YES!”
Before I could finish drawing stripes on Jiro’s caterpillar we had a table full of food. My carpaccio was just as delicious as—although much smaller than—I remembered. The soup was a hit with my mom, and then Satchel once I mixed in the decorative drops of pesto. Satchel got a piece of bread, dipped it in, and said, “Mmmm…it is even yummier this way.”
“I want some,” Jiro said and amazingly enough, Satchel gave him a few spoonfuls.
“I want more,” he said and my mom very graciously gave him what was left in her cup.
With the monkeys both busy eating, I took a few moments to inhale my tuna and oysters. Realizing I hadn’t offered to share any, I "generously" gave Satchel and my mom the underlying asparagus (which I don't like).
The pizza came out before we were even done with the apps. (I had told the waiter we were heading to the Orpheum at 6pm.) Satchel excitedly served himself a piece and Jiro insisted on having two pieces. He also requested that I take the black olives off of my slices and put them on his. Meanwhile, Satchel pulled the pepperonis off of the pieces within his reach. Maybe I should have just ordered a whole Roman and let them deflower it at will. The cheese was perfectly melted and stringy. So much so that Satchel spent a few minutes attempting to drink it through his the straw that I reluctantly gave back to him a few moments before.
There was lots of squirming and several reminders to "put butts on seats and feet on the floor," but for the most part, the monkeys were acting perfectly acceptable. Since the meal was coming to a close, I asked the monkeys if they needed to go potty, which of course they did. We walked to the very back of the restaurant and into the restrooms. I almost immediately busted my ass upon entering the women's room. There was a very slick spot right in the middle of the floor, almost as if someone had spilled soap. Luckily I caught myself and directed the monkeys away from it.
Per usual, both monkeys needed a long visit and Satchel needed a really long visit. To fill the time, Jiro showed me how he learned to take his jacket off and on. Then he showed me how he could reach the light switch. (This is something he is still trying to do at home.) The discovery of the light switch propelled Satchel to finish his business and soon he too was playing with it despite my protests.
Once I opened the bathroom door, the monkeys took off running through the restaurant much to my horror. Thankfully it was still fairly empty so they didn’t knock over any waiters and only elicited a minimum of stares. Back at the table, rather than sitting down, they climbed under and over and giggled and squealed so loudly that my threats were inaudible.
“Is there caffeine in Sprite?” my mom asked.
I was mortified!
Thankfully my mom agreed to handle the check and I swiftly removed the monkeys from the restaurant while the back of my head burned with the stares I’m sure I was getting. Outside, I gave a stern lecture as the monkeys did their best to muffle their giggles. Then I had them run laps up and down the sidewalk in an attempt to get their wiggles out before the show.
“Ms. Greenberg, would you like me to get your car?” the valet called out from a few feet away.
“Uh, yes, please,” I managed.
We had such a good start! I’m not sure where we went wrong! I’m going to have to go back and do a little basic (re-)training before attempting another nice restaurant.
My mom had the pizza and spinach put in a to-go box, and the monkeys devoured it on the drive home from the Orpheum.