chicken soup for the gay soul

I know I am depressed when it becomes too difficult to live in the present. Last Wednesday night I took myself out to dinner at my number one restaurant, Cafeteria, to feel better. Located at Main and 10th, the popular area is one of my favourite spots to eat, drink and shop. In my opinion, Main Street strikes the perfect balance between East and West in this city and reminds me of Winnipeg: honest, laid-back and welcoming.

At nine o’clock, I stepped out of the rain and requested a table for one. Inside, the dining room is small and intimate. Red brick walls provide warmth to the open-concept while stainless steel tables offer the perfect blank-canvas to feature each dish. The menu is displayed chalkboard style on each opposing wall and changes every few days. I took off my jacket and scarf and cozied in between a young couple on a date and a Chinese family out for dinner.

Resting my bag Pacey safely next to my feet I breathed hot air in to my hands to warm up. When the waitress came over, I ordered a bottle of sparkling water and asked for a minute to look over the menu. Fortunately for my stomach and bank account, the restaurant offers three courses for $36, which means that I can have my cake and eat it too. Because the weather outside was miserable, I was craving food that would not only cheer me up but also tuck me in to bed.

Selecting three dishes from the menu, I thanked Meryl Streep as the first course arrived: a creamy avocado salad layered with tuna sashimi, tempura crimini mushrooms and fresh ginger. With a glass of prosecco, I raised a toast to the memory of summer and lifted my fork in wild anticipation for the first bite. As I cherished each flavour, I slipped back in to a hot afternoon at Third Beach. My feet buried in the warm sand and the cool ocean breeze against my face. 

I can tell you this now that it is December - November was a brutal month. I will not get in to specifics only to say that I rate everyday in my journal between 1 and 10. If I wake up hungover, the day simply gets an HM for Hot Mess. Last month, in thirty days I recorded ten HM’s and averaged a daily rating of 6. Fortunately my trip to Vegas brought me up past the point of no return. I remember at the half-way point turning to the bartender at work and asking, “is it just me or is the sky-falling?”

For dinner I flew myself home for Christmas. I ordered herb-crusted beef-pot pie in a red wine jus with truffle mac and cheese. I paired the dish with a rich and modestly-priced glass of French Bordeaux. The beef was tender and collapsed underneath the weight of my fork. The pasta was luxurious, an emperor’s palace sheathed in gold. I finished each new bite with a sip of wine and thought about winter in Winnipeg.

With a smile, I rekindled the memory of tobogganing with my friends late one night when it was minus fifty with the wind-chill. I don’t know what we were thinking, but by the time we reached the top of the hill, the six-pack of Lucky beer we had packed with us was completely frozen. I thought about the beautiful sight of a fresh snowfall in the morning and cursing every step to work after that.

By the time I reached dessert the restaurant had cleared out. I indulged in rum-soaked raisin bread pudding for dessert and then taking a deep breath, asked for the cheque. I pulled out my tips from the night before and thanked the waitress and Chef for the excellent meal. I put on my jacket and scarf, collected my umbrella and stepped back outside in to the cold and rain.