Saturday, November 24, 2012
Bill and I tried a local restaurant that we've been meaning to check out for some time now--Torch Bistro in Punta Gorda. It's highly rated on TripAdvisor, which I contribute to and trust. The decor is slick and modern, all glossy black and red with crystal bead curtains and subdued lighting. The waiters are professional and slick as well. The menu was priced reasonably and sounded wonderful.
When the bread arrived in one of those fancy cones, warm from the oven and smelling totally addictive, Bill had one tiny bite and we quickly asked the waiter to disappear it. We both ordered fish--I had cod with a double side of julienned vegetables, and Bill had the stuffed flounder. I asked for the house seasoning on mine, which the waiter described as "our own version of Old Bay, salt, pepper, lemon." Both arrived quickly and were perfectly prepared.
EXCEPT that, if Old Bay tried to market whatever was on my cod, they'd be out of business in a week! There were a few black flakes of something on the fish, but it was completely tasteless. Of course, what do you do in those circumstances? Reach for the .... um ... "Honey, where's the salt and pepper?" I looked around at the other tables, whence I could filch some, but there was none in sight, anywhere.
"Oh," says Bill. "I forgot to tell you. They have this thing about their food being so perfectly seasoned that they want to make sure you taste it before adding salt and pepper."
"So they don't even GIVE you any??"
"They will if you ask."
I thought we were adults here, who could be trusted to use salt and pepper responsibly. I didn't think we needed Mayor Bloomberg monitoring our sodium intake in Punta Gorda! This is, in fact, starting to seem like a Seinfeld episode. My fish sits, getting colder, while I try to find the waiter, to beg for salt and pepper. I could picture it already.
"Ma'am, have you actually TASTED your food? NO??? NO SALT FOR YOU!!"
Though he didn't say that, we did have a little discussion with him and with another waitress, both of whom reminded us of the perfectly seasoned condition of our meals and warned us not to ruin them. They were getting their stories a little confused, though, because the waitress added that they didn't put out the salt and pepper because patrons were inclined to STEAL them. (My idea of the day--use cheaper salt and pepper shakers, not Alessi grinders!)
In the end, I'll tell you, it took a great deal of salt and pepper to get my meal up to "perfectly seasoned" status.
Of course, they may have a point. The sodium I consumed yesterday put nearly three pounds on me this morning. But still.