The day I decide to have lunch at Bellevue Bistro (313 Fairfield Ave., 859-581-5600), I have about 90 things to do and 1,001 on my mind. Sitting in the small Kentucky coffee house with about a dozen tables, writing my to-do list and anticipating the arrival of the coffee I just ordered with the name I can't remember, I am keenly aware that I suck as a Buddhist.
I tell myself I should be a good Buddhist and eat more mindfully, so I ask, again, what the coffee is called, because it's not on the menu and I wasn't paying attention.
"Highlander Grogg Spicy Butterscotch Coffee ... iced ($1.75)," my patient server says.
She looks like she owns the place, singing along to '80s music, swigging Mountain Dew and yelling, "Girls, that's a doozie of a step out there. Watch it when you leave."
With a menu full of tasty vegetarian and meat lovers' sandwiches that all have gourmet touches such as "the Bistro's famous basil butter," I can hardly decide what to choose. Do I do the Turkey Cranberry Wrap with cranberry cream cheese, my server's favorite, or do I try the Veggie Wrap, Portabella or Bistro Grill with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes?
I ultimately go for the Bavarian Reuben ($7.25). (I'm a bit of a Reuben connoisseur.) This one in particular speaks to me; it's all the traditional Reuben fare, but served on a fresh baked pretzel bun. Yum.
I can't resist asking for the sliced turkey breast instead of the corned beef, and my waitress is happy to oblige. Of the six salads, my server recommends the most popular: the Roosevelt ($4.95) with field greens, dried cranberries, feta cheese and sunflower seeds.
When it arrives five minutes later, I love the salad's light flavor. Instead of the rich ingredients and vinaigrette common to so many raspberry vinaigrette salad creations, this one's refreshingly light.
The Reuben is also everything it promised to be. Fresh from the bakery, the buttery, crispy pretzel bun makes the sandwich.
For dessert, I order one of Bellevue's homemade brownies, which is enough for four people. Not too sweet or rich but deep and gooey and warm from the oven, it has fresh whipped cream on the side that melts sweetly into it.
"This is the best brownie I've ever had," I tell the server.
"That's because I gave you the biggest piece," she says.
This warm gesture makes my meal and makes the end a bit more tragic than it otherwise would have been. Despite all my efforts at eating mindfully, I pay with a credit card and quickly walk out the door with my signed receipt.
Minutes later, my ever-efficient server is chasing me down the street.
"Did you forget something?" she asks. "Do you have the receipt? I need that."
"Did you take my pen, too?" she asks suspiciously.
I'm able to dig out the receipt but can't find the pen. "That's OK," she says, raising her eyebrows. "This is all I need."
She smiles and walks away.
CONTACT HEATHER SMITH: email@example.com