The angels are singing and a brilliant golden light shines down from on high. I’m finally having a good meal in Ireland, and I am in Heaven. I am dining solo at Patrick Guilbaud’s Michelin-Starred restaurant in Dublin … white table cloth, china, silver, champagne, all laid out in perfect harmony. I’m all smiles as I enjoy the exquisite ballet of a 15 person staff moving effortlessly around my table. Plate after plate arrives, each paired with beautiful wines and it is good—really good. I’m euphoric.
Glancing over toward the salon next to me, I notice a beautiful brunette rise from her table, and my eyes are instantly fixed upon her. She’s absolutely striking, and my happiness swells as I follow her movements. In that moment, another figure rises and starts walking toward me, and as his face comes into the light … Holy Shit it’s Bono, the lead singer for U2, Ireland’s biggest thing since, well, ever. What do I do? Stand up and shake his hand? Wave? Grab my phone and go paparazzi on his ass? Panicking, I go with instinct; I give him smile and a nod. Fancy me … brilliant move, Jim, you did it. He continues walking toward me, smiles, and nods back.
Holy shit, Bono just acknowledged Jim Sloate, fuck yeah! I mentally go full-on Wayne’s World. DUDE, Bono just nodded at you! Jim’s World! Jim’s World! Party on! Excellent! … complete with shitty psychedelic visual effects. I sit there, basking in the afterglow and start looking at my phone. Was that really him? There are probably hundreds of Irish guys who look just like him. On the other hand, this is reputedly the best restaurant in all of Ireland; where else is one of the world’s biggest rock stars going to grab a bite? Hmm … U2 played in Santa Clara, California a few weeks ago … currently not on tour, but there’s a show in Chicago two days from now. Damn, it was him! I think!
I lean back and take a breath and, in that moment, realize that I just transformed from Mikhail Baryshnikov in cream-colored tights with my beautiful package in clear sight, sailing through the dining room, to a pathetic, star-struck retard. Hit the brakes and relax, you fuck, I tell myself. Forget about Bono and focus on this amazing meal! Slowly, I gather myself, pound the glass of wine sitting in front of me, adjust my cream-colored tights, and return to the business at hand.
Clarity returns as I focus again on this truly amazing meal, and the ballet starts anew: crab roll, foie gras, lobster, sweetbreads, cheeseboard … good God, how many courses are there? As I reach black-hole-level density, I ask one of my waiters—how many courses are left, and he just smiles and walks away. I’m feeling it, like really feeling it. You know, like Fat Bastard, feeling it? After 10 flights of wine, my waiter has begun to look like a witch, and I’m Hansel and Gretel. Eat, eat, I say! Fuck ,they’re trying to fatten me up for a feast for the staff, I just know it.
Next course is the beginning of dessert. The beginning? Maybe the beginning of the end. I look at my watch—two hours and fifteen minutes. Fuck! The singing angels have ceased and I can faintly hear Metallica’s song, “For Whom the Bells Toll” playing in the background. First comes a strawberry and ice cream bowl, followed by a plate of cookies and macaroons, and of course more wine pairings. I throw my white napkin across the room. Please, just … stop. Shit, I am so fucking full. Fuck, I’m fat … burp. Next thing I know, I’ve turned into Fat Bastard in all his kilted glory “Get in my belly.”
I look warily at the staff. That’s 19 courses! Jesus, are we done yet? They just look at me, say nothing, and walk away. The next course comes out—a chocolate ganache with gold flakes and a glass of port. I dig into it and take a sip of the port and realize that I’ve reached DEFCON 5. Again, Fat Bastard comes out. “I’m so fat I’ve got more Chins than a Chinese phone book. Burp”—I reach down loosen my belt buckle and obviously, it’s time to go.
The bill arrives, I scribble my name, pay, and, summoning up every reserve of energy and strength, stand and waddle in the general direction of the door. Looking back, I see the entire staff smiling like a Cheshire Cat, saying “thank you!” … or was it fuck you? I can’t tell. For a moment I think, and it occurs to me,maybe they read my blog about how bad the food is in Ireland. Hmm, Had they? Had they played me?
Someone hands me my jacket and, as I walk out, I say to myself, Nice work Ireland, you got me. Your food isn’t all that bad. Tonight was special, thank you. As I reach for the taxi door, I hear the song “It’s a Beautiful Day,” by U2 wafting faintly from the restaurant. Fuckers.
If you enjoyed that story, check out another one where the food in Ireland got even worse as the trip went on, Central Cultural Food Confusion.