When thinking about Neiman Marcus, a few things come to mind -- tanorexic MILFs, elderly women dripping in diamonds, and that gorgeous, cherry-colored Marc Jacobs bag that I would sell my soul for. Recently, a friend suggested that I join her for a bite to eat at the famed department store's café, The Little Mermaid Bar, a place where the word lunch is used exclusively as a verb. For some reason, the idea of a midday meal at Neiman Marcus, aside from being a bizarre choice, made me uncomfortable.
Some will argue that my discomfort is due to my lack of class, pedigree, or couth -- all of which is true but beside the point. After verifying that the café served beer and wine, I agreed to go, preparing myself for a pretentious wait staff, uptight atmosphere, and bland, over-priced food. What I found when I arrived was startling.
I had just stepped into a time warp.The Little Mermaid Bar, usually referred to as The Mermaid Bar, looked more like a small '60s-style diner than the chichi café that I had envisioned. An oddly-shaped, quartz counter consumes most of the space in the diminutive wood-paneled café . Overhead, a series of pendant lights warm the room, casting an inviting yet unflattering (read: not Instagram- friendly) yellow glow on the patrons grazing nearby.
The snooty wait staff, which I had braced myself for, were nowhere to be found. Instead, a friendly staff, dressed in crisp white dress shirts and black trousers, greeted me. Previous discomfort quickly turned into an odd sense of disappointment as my expectation gap began to widen. I scanned the menu, desperately looking for the Aha! Dish--that ridiculously simple dish that's been bastardized with trendy and totally superfluous accouterments. My search was in vain. There was no diamond-encrusted tilapia, no caviar burger with moose milk cheese, shaved truffles, and platinum leafing.
Instead my options included grilled cheese, Mandarin Orange Soufflé, and zucchini bread. I was dumbfounded. Either I was being Punk'd, or I was in for some serious old school dining; the latter of which was quickly confirmed after being asked if I'd like a complimentary popover.