Best Guest Ever

Well I finally encountered the ideal guest.  It’s taken me nearly 7 years, but it happened.  I wasn’t sure what shape the Best Guest Ever would take.  It turned out to be a Cool Dude from California.  Equal parts:






He looked like a worn down Tom Selleck, was in the pre-leathery stages of maximum sun exposure, was unpolished, a bit brusque, but only to get to the damn point and move on, though definitely not in any hurry.  He’s from California, wine is his thing, and he likes to try new restaurants.  He made sure to mention he was going out on his own, but couldn’t promise he’d be dining alone for the entirety of his stay.  Normally that would creep me out coming from a guy with a Magnum PI mustache, but when uttered with the coolness of The Narrator from The Big Lebowski, I could only think “well sheeyut.”

I first encountered him when he came by the desk to ask about the restaurant Avec.  It is an amazing little contemporary American and mediterrenean enoteca with incredible food and wine, great informed and laid back service, a really cool crowd, and somewhere I never, ever recommend to guests.  Avec is tiny, doesn’t take reservations, employs communal seating on rigid, utilitarian furniture, serves food and wine with imagination – just waaaaaay too many pitfalls for the overprivileged, bloated, self-important, nitpicking ninnies I spend most of my time advising.  Occasionally I do get someone sophisticated (the cuisine) and equally unpretentious (no reservations accepted) enough to send over to Avec, but most often it’s still some sort of New York Times/Zagat guide badge of honor that they’ve been there, more of a trophy to check off their list.  It’s flabbergasting how many people hone their palates simply to impress others, rather than enjoy food.

But not Cool Dude.  He did a minimal amount of research about Chicago restaurants.  He landed in our friendly city, struck up conversation with people – probably over cocktails – and got their opinions on said restaurants.  He stopped by the concierge to make sure he wouldn’t need a reservation, and even if he did, hell, he might go anyway – he was flying solo and preferred to eat at the bar anyway.  And so he went to Avec, and god dang it if he didn’t love the place.

He stopped by the following afternoon to report his findings – varied, well curated, reasonably priced wines, knowledgeable servers, delicious food.  He sat at the crowded bar, went with what the knowledgeable servers suggested, and had a cool time.  He did mention that he nearly got in an argument with the executive chef, but she is, by just about all accounts rather cuntish, and he apparently relayed it to one of the restaurant’s owners, who he rubbed elbows with most of the night via sitting at the bar.  Not bad.

So we talked about what the next restaurant should be – he had gotten recommendations from people at Avec, a restaurant with good food, knowledgeable servers, and a cool crowd (how novel!), and lo and behold they were damn good recommendations.  But he wanted to think about it over a good bottle of wine he had brought with him.  He needed a corkscrew.  At 3 in the afternoon.  (Well sheeyut.)  I asked him if he needed wine glasses – red or white?  “It’s a white Burgundy and it’s just me, unless you guys want to try it too.”  I declinded on account of a hangover (and my colleague just looked incredulous), and felt not unlike The Dude when he crosses paths with The Narrator, but all too briefly and unwittingly passes up an opportunity to meet minds with some kind of Wild West oracle.  Again – you don’t hear something like that come out of a mustache framed mouth and not clinch your goosebumped buttcheeks unless it’s clearly a Cool Motherfucking Dude.

That night he went to The Publican, another altogether kick ass restaurant, sort of a sibling of Avec, and best described as a contemporary American version of an Old World beerhall with simple, but incrdeible food focused on oysters, snout-to-tail pork, and artisinal beer.  Just like Avec, it’s a mindblowing restaurant that I rarely send guests too, because, well – shellfish and pork?  Oy vey!  But naturally Cool Dude loved it.  He actually had the same server he had at Avec, and basically put himself in her hands as far as ordering.

The next afternoon, Cool Dude – presumably after smoking Marlboro Reds most of the morning – asked where he could get a good cheese plate in the hotel.  I laid out his choices, and he just asked for the simplest, since he had a “great bottle of wine” in his room and just wanted to polish it off before going out to yet another fantastic restaurant (The Bristol).  So let me get this straight – the routine is stay out all night eating incredible food, try to get some pussy, get up around 11 the next morning, scratch your ass, start drinking kick ass Napa and Sonoma wine at 3, maybe with some cheese, then go to another incredible restaurant to drink more epic wine, and try and get laid again.  Well sheeyut!

I still can’t decide if I admire this guy because he made my job so incredibly easy, or because I want to be him.  It just can’t be bad to travel to great cities – with top drawer wine in tow – and be bothered to do nothing more than eat and drink well, and maybe get ass.  I sent an email to a friend who is essentially the closest embodiment of a real life Jeffrey Lebowski I will ever know describing Cool Dude, and his response was:
I like the sound of this dude
operates on our plane
(respect a dude who brings his own.)”

I’m not sure how long it will be before I encounter another guest with such good taste who will forgo their self-importance for experience, or effortlessly trust my opinion, or take such easily rewarded chances in lieu of going to the shithole that the asshole next to them on the plane said to go to (I’m looking at you, Rosebud), or with such a mind melting mustache.  I am conditioned to advising complete and total wankers with endless niggling requests, idiotic requisites, and hankerings for food that speak to their offensively boring or obnoxiously convoluted palates.

Which is why I was so durned taken aback by Cool Dude.  He knew what he was doin.   I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. Cool Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh.  I sure hope he makes it back some day.

Say, friend - you got any more of that good sarsparilla?

Say, friend - you got any more of that good sarsparilla?


One Response

  1. He sounds dreamy!

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