By David Minsky
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I sipped my Gold Digger and listened to my unspouse name the many reasons she could become accustomed to eating lots of T-bone steaks and garlic-roasted Alaskan king crabs at Chops. "Does this mean you're going to continue to claw your way up the soul-destroying corporate ladder at UniBank and forget about pursuing this silly three-year plan to go to law school?" I asked hopefully. "Because I don't think your pro-bono work for the transgendered semi-Olympic croquet team of Palm Beach County is going to pay for many porterhouse steaks with béarnaise sauce."
Somewhere along the line, my significant other has gotten the idea in her noggin that work is supposed to be satisfying and meaningful. "What meaning do you think I derive from eating fried calamari with lemon-caper aioli four nights a week?" I asked her. "Grow up. Life is just a lot of slogging through P.R. packets that read like the unabridged edition of War and Peace."
She wasn't listening because she was oohing over what she pronounced "the most delicious fillet of sea bass [$34] I've ever had."
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"That's Chilean," I said sourly. "I'd think a downwardly mobile do-gooder like you would recognize an endangered species when you saw one."
The sea bass was cooked "Hong Kong style," steamed in a delicate sesame-ginger soy broth in which bright-green spinach leaves had been barely wilted. There was a mound of florally scented sticky rice along with it. The fillet was buttery and unctuous, and a bite of it coated the mouth in waves of velvet.
I'd ordered a 22-ounce prime, bone-in, char-grilled rib eye ($39) — broiled, our waiter confided, at 1,200 degrees. How it's possible to expose a piece of flesh to this kind of heat and still have it come out cool and red in the center, as I ordered it, I can't say. It was nearly black on the outside, covered with a wonderful, fatty, crusty layer, and inside it was "to the tooth," as the Italians might say of their pasta — chewy in a good way and very rich in flavor, texture, and visuals. As I gnawed closer to the bone, it got better and better, because the bone juices, marrow, and fat had sort of caramelized.
Father-un-law expressed a lot of satisfaction with his planche-roasted king salmon ($27), a fish secure in the expression of its unalterable salmonness, the color of a Kodak sunset, and with a distinctly wild flavor. He liked that our waiter had asked him how he wanted it cooked ("They never ask me that at the diner"), and he ate steadily through the plate until he'd scooped up every morsel of buttery sauce, along with the good eight ounces of rib eye I'd forked over for him and at least three quarters of the dish of Little Joe's spinach and mushrooms ($10, serving for three) and all of the rest of the bread. Then he allowed how he had saved room for an order of chocolate toffee cake ($10) and even a bite or two of my liqueur-infused banana cream pie ($10, as light as the toffee cake was heavy).
As you might imagine, the selection of wines, ports, Sauternes, cognacs, trendy vodkas, and rare malt whiskeys is expansive and eminently suited to a place that serves "Mishima Ranch 'Wagyu' Kobe beef New York Strip" steaks.
We were so very, very happy, and we hadn't even been required to sleep with anybody to pay for this meal. We weren't worried about whether we'd get a promotion. We wouldn't have to marry any old people or even kiss any corporate ass. We sniffed the sirloin-scented air, and it smelled just like freedom.