Saturday, February 23, 2008

Moderation in winter

I had a little reminder of what it is like to be a normal grown up rather than a slave to kid-sized creatures this week. I also discovered that it isn't as hard to be social during my normally reclusive month of February as I had been making it out to be. I met friends for drinks twice in one week.

The first event took place after a parent's meeting at my kid's preschool (Open house March 7! Ms. Juli is GOD!). Lea and I headed down to a newish Cuban restaurant called Cafe Habana and sat at the bar and tried their Mojitos. Sarah and Brian met us after they had an elementary school parent's meeting ('tis the season) and we all reveled in the opportunity to a)be in a bar on a week night! b)talk to grown ups! c)stay up past 9:30 pm (the time at which I usually have wrestled my resistant sleepers into submission and promptly collapsed myself). The drinks were good but the noise and smoke level made me prefer the also-good Mojitos at Zanzibar.

When we left the bar and were walking back to the car, Lea and I noticed the moon looking a little funny. As the driver, I had only consumed one Mojito, so I didn't think it was alcohol to blame for my perception--the moon looked weirdly red and round. When we got home and I checked with my resident astronomer, I found out that we had been seeing the lunar eclipse! It was really beautiful (if you missed it, check out all these images on Flickr) and I think I enjoyed it even more because of the chance factor--no planning, just the luck of being out at night with a friend and looking up into a clear night sky.

Then last night I skipped out at 8:30 and met my friend Emily at The Earle. I discovered that it wasn't that hard to leave the house (even for the second time in a week) and meet up with a friend after the kids were (mostly) ready for bed. It was really, really good to reconnect with an old friend from my UMS days who I have not seen in way too long. I also discovered that The Earle has one of my favorite wines on their wine-by-the-glass menu at the moment--Woop Woop Australian Shiraz 2006.

The key these grown up evenings being workable is moderation--I didn't stay out really late either time and I didn't have more than one alcoholic drink, so getting up the next morning and dealing with the responsibilities of the day weren't difficult at all. I think in the past I've been so relieved to get a break that I have perhaps indulged too much and for too long and then regretted it the next day. Fatigue and dehydration made me think that meeting up with friends in winter was just too hard to do regularly, but now I think I can make the rest of this grim season a little more tolerable by scheduling more evenings of moderation.

And with that realization, I ask for recommendations so I can diversify my locations beyond Zanzibar and The Earle. I'm ok with being a frequent patron of these two places, but I'd bet there are other places I don't know about that I'd enjoy too. Send me your suggestions of other bars/restaurants that fulfill the following conditions:
1) a non-smoking section
2) not too loud to have a conversation
3) they are ok with you ordering one drink and hanging out for a while on a weeknight when no-one else is waiting for your table or seat (I love the wait staff at the Earle--they totally get it that grown ups need a place to talk over a glass of wine and I've never felt rushed there; yes, I tip accordingly, as though my table was a cab with a meter running, not just a percentage of the cost of my one glass of wine).
4) While there may be nicely attired patrons, you don't feel like you have to get gussied up to go there--I'm just too damn tired for gussying on a weeknight.


Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Ann Arbor has a Cuban restaurant now? We still don't have one in Arlington! Thankfully, there's always my parents.

I do miss the Earle, though. Enjoy your outings while you wait 9and wait) for spring.

Anonymous said...

The Earle would be my first choice anytime, but Seva used to be a good place for a leisurely glass of wine. I don't know whether it's the case anymore, but Tuesdays used to be half-off wine by the glass evening. Since Seva was presumably trying to lure in more customers on a slow night - or maybe it's just their relaxed nature all the time - I never felt hurried. And their divine sweet potato fries made a nice little something to go with the wine.

The bar at Gratzi's was nice too. You get to look at the amazing murals, eat a little something, and not suffer remorse when the bill comes.

Lots of people swear by Cafe Felix, but I've always found the atmosphere a little chilly there.

I'd be interested to know if it's possible to gather for a glass of wine (and perhaps a slice of something with whipped cream) at Amadeus. I've always liked it there, but have only ever gone in for lunch.

...Back in the day, of course. B.C. Before Children.

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

The eclipse was stunning here. I watched it out the window with my four boys all jumping off the furniture. I think I would have rather had some mojitos and I don't even like them!!

Love my boys. A break is wonderful

Leah said...

Zingerman's Roadhouse is a good place to go, especially if you can get there for happy hour (it's quieter, there are drink specials, and there's a special happy hour food menu). The bartenders are friendly and are usually pretty generous with tasters of wine, booze, beer etc. if you are curious about something, so I recommend sitting at the bar. Good cocktails too.

Also, on Thursdays after 9:00 PM Eve has free appetizers, and it's a very relaxed atmosphere after the dinner rush.

Anonymous said...

If you decide to get a little wild with your friends, try the Friday night happy hour at the "Club Above". It is not your classier joint, but a lot of fun.

You pay about 2 bucks for cover, and you get to see a live band from 6 PM - 8 PM.

It's mostly an older crowd-35+.

Everyone likes to dance with everyone. Jeans are cool.

The best part is you can still go out, it is not too late, and you can always take the AATA home if you have too much fun.

LinknKnits said...

Melange (on Main Street) also serves Woop Woop by the glass. :-)

Susan W said...

Oh Kate, how i wish I lived nearby and could have an adult evening out with you and Emily! Living where I live (in the boon docks) I rarely get time away on my own...I"m lucky if I get out once a month - and never at night. Maybe as the little one gets older, that will be more realistic.

Enjoy the time, say hi to Em and have a glass of wine for me at the Earle :)