What should I be doing instead of this?
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Living Out Loud: : Soufflés and Tiffany Bags vs. Sausage Gravy and Bologna

More food for thought on the Maisonette

By Susan Burke Steege · August 11th, 2004 · Living Out Loud

If you read last week's "Living Out Loud" by Larry Gross, you heard all about his and Sara's dining experience at the Maisonette. I read the article with interest, because as stated in the story, the Maisonette is thinking about packing its bags and moving toward the burbs.

For about 10 seconds I thought it really is a shame that Cincinnati can't do more to keep the restaurant downtown. Damn city council.

During the next 10 seconds I thought about lobbying. I could get a sandwich sign that says, "Save the Maisonette" and parade up and down East Sixth Street. Perhaps I could even create a petition and acquire enough signatures to send to city council. Hopefully, Todd Portune would help.

Twenty seconds is about all it took before I remembered my own lunch experience there. I suddenly realized that I needed to pull myself up by my underwear and face facts. The Maisonette just isn't my kind of place.

After all, how many ways can a soufflé be served, how many foods can be slathered with cream sauce and how many times can some Uriah Heep-looking waiter so humbly offer his assistance?

Now before you look down your noses and draw your visual image of what must be my undereducated, underemployed and misfit appearance, I know some of you are thinking the same thing. I, however, have the very distinct privilege of actually verbalizing this opinion: It's boring!

It's also uppity, snobbish, pretentious and, frankly, too fucking expensive.

No one wants to be sitting there, minding their own business, happily munching on their soufflé, only to be so rudely interrupted by Mr. and Mistress Lunchbox sitting next to you.

Looking over, you catch a glimpse of old Mr. Lunchbox wearing his old gray suit and sporting slicked-back gray hair. He sits perched with his elbows on the table watching Mistress Lunchbox -- who is many years his junior, yet vastly superior in weight-- as she opens the latest Tiffany payoff.

Imagine yourself trying to have this very nice lunch with your new friend when something horrific catches your eye from over at the Lunchbox table. You glance over and slowly, like a dorsal fin emerging from the ocean water, comes the oversized bright blue Tiffany bag.

"Oh, my," exclaims the waiter, "how very nice, indeed."

"Oh crap," you exclaim, "there goes my lunch."

Mistress Lunchbox clasps her chubby and manicured little fingers together and squeals an ungodly squeal.

"George, you shouldn't have! And don't tell me, I bet it goes with the necklace," she exclaims, fondling the oversized bubble-gum-looking clunk of a thing wrapped around her neck.

After a few minutes of flagging the waiter's attention (as you don't have in your possession a bright, blue bag to bring immediate service, or you're not as lucky to know the waiter), you finally manage to speak with him and indicate that your soufflé isn't quite up to snuff.

"Pardon me?" he asks, obviously surprised.

"I'm sorry," you repeat, "but my soufflé isn't quite what I expected. It tastes different from what is listed on the menu."

The room goes silent.

"But it's the chef's change in preparation," the waiter explains.

"I don't quite like it," you persist. "I would like to order something else."

"Excuse me?" asks the waiter.

Suddenly you decide you no longer have an appetite. You find yourself thinking of the breakfast you had last Sunday at Phillips 27 in Oxford. It was sausage gravy and biscuits. It was good, too. The waitress was really nice. She even came back and asked if it was okay.

Or you find yourself craving a really good bologna cap fried in butter, on toast with mustard. Maybe served with an egg.

"Excuse me?" the perturbed waiter asks again.

"Oh, sorry," you reply, awaking from your daydream and realizing you've drooled down the front of your shirt. Looking up, you catch the very surprised and disdainful face of your companion.

Your mind begins to race. You think about trying to make a dignified recovery. You quickly glance around the room.

The waiter is glaring at you. Mr. Lunchbox is smiling smugly at his mistress. Mistress Lunchbox is applying lipstick with the hand that now houses an oversized diamond ring. You turn to your companion and shrug.

"You know, this just isn't my kind of place."



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