Salad Guy

Went to a new place where you make your own salads. Well, they make it for you, you just tell them what to put in it.

Not sure the idea makes sense as a business model, but there you have it.

The set-up did give me ample opportunity to talk to the salad-maker. He told me you get to choose four ingredients (on top of your lettuce), so I chose tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. Then I asked, “What’s the least popular item that people ask for?”

(This, by the way, is one of my favorite questions to ask in restaurants. What is the least-often-ordered item on the menu? Sometimes I ask my dining companion–Marny always hated this question, she always responded irately, “Why do you care?!”–and then we see who’s right by asking the waiter. At Jerry’s Deli, it’s the Romanian Skirt Steak. Since that was the first place I thought up the question, those who know me well will often refer to this as the “Romanian Skirt Steak” question.)

Anyway, the guy said, “Probably celery.” I said, “Not beets. Or baby corns?” He said, “No, people love beets.” The least popular ingredient is not always the strangest, I guess. Sometimes it’s just the most boring.

So I picked kidney beans as my fourth ingredient, and looked at the guy gleefully before saying, “Weren’t expecting that, were you?”

He said, “No, I was totally heading towards the onions. Good call.”

(That book 4-Hour Body says you should eat beans in every meal.)

I added chicken and bacon to make it delicious and we settled on a dressing. Overall, the salad was about as good as a salad bar. I don’t know, there’s just something about seeing it made that makes it not taste as good as a pre-thought-out salad. I mean, I love salads at like the Cheesecake Factory and CPK, but I would never go to the salad bar at Ralphs.

Cheesecake Guy

Went to see Bad Teacher with Chloe at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks (because you can reserve your seat–totally worth it).

The only bad thing about the Galleria is that there are very few places to eat and no stores to browse in. So left with few choices, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before the movie.

Now I’m not one of those people who decries chains like the Cheesecake Factory as symptomatic of the decline of society. All things being equal I’d probably choose somewhere else, but the food is actually pretty decent. The problem with the Cheesecake Factory is that everyone else in the world seems to think it’s a fine dining experience and that makes the place too damn crowded.

We put our name down and were told it would be a 20-30 minutes wait. I was ready to bolt, but Chloe is more patient than I (by a factor of 93) and said we would wait. Of course, there’s nowhere to sit down, just a massive crowd of people waiting to get seated. So I made the best of the situation and turned to the guy next to me (wearing a Lakers jersey) and said, “I should just wait until they beep me and then sell my beeper to the highest bidder.”

He thought that was a good idea. He said, “Yeah, you could come here every night and auction off your place.”

“Sounds like a great business plan,” I replied. “Like we stand outside yelling, ‘I got a table for 6 in five minutes, table for 2 in ten, who needs a table for 8? I got a table for 8 and it’s beeping right now!'” I acted out the ticket scalper routine which he seemed particularly familiar with.

The bit ended and I turned back to Chloe. She was looking at me a little oddly. She said, “Do you know that guy?” I said no, I was just making conversation. She said, “You know, I’ve noticed that you talk to strangers a lot. Like when we were in Vegas you talked to that guy at the roulette table for like an hour.”

So I made a decision. Over the course of dinner, I told Chloe about the Talk to Strangers project. (I didn’t mention the blog. Baby steps.) She thought it was a cool thing I was doing. Especially when I told her that’s how I met her.