18 March 2009

The Reluctant Traveller: Day 1: The Sweetest Taboo

Terminal 7 at JFK and I've got an hour to kill. I decide to eat, so I browse the $8 cashew boxes and suffocating, Saran-wrapped Granny Smith's in the Balducci's take-away market. Then I spot a new place nearby: Todd English's Bonfire. It looks empty and cozy--two qualities that are typically underrated in airport restaurants.

I take a seat at the bar and ask to see a menu. I order a skirt steak and a seltzer, then begin to wonder who Todd English is.

The bartender disappears (to presumably place my order) and suddenly I realize that I'm alone here, in this bar/restaurant. I notice the slight coat of dust on the bottles of liquor behind the bar. A muted soccer match is on the plasma TVs suspended in the corners. And, of course, Sade is playing through obviously cheap-o speakers on the restaurant's sound system.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard Sade in airport bars/restaurants. What is the deal with Sade? Why is it the soundtrack of choice for people scarfing down a meal before boarding their flight? I boggle my mind by trying to contemplate all the thousands of airport bars/restaurants that are, at this very moment, playing Sade.

My skirt steak arrives. I asked for medium rare. But what I get is a piece of meat that's so raw that the pool of blood it's sitting in merits a lifeguard. I tell the bartender. He takes the skirt steak away. A few minutes later, he returns. This time, it's so overcooked, I can taste the chef's anger. "NOT COOKED PROPERLY? NOW I'LL COOK IT PROPERLY FOR HIM."

I've worked in kitchens. They're very angry places.

I pay my bill, then head to the gate, serenaded by "Smooth Operator." (Smooooooth operatorrrrrrrr.) 

I wish I'd opted for that Saran-wrapped Granny Smith.


  1. I want to hear about Vancouver, not JFK!!

    Todd English is the chef/ owner of Olives and Figs! And, apparently Bonfire. Olives and Figs are great restaurants.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Mrs. Todd English!

    As for writing about Vancouver instead of JFK, I'm not a DJ. I don't take requests, Mrs. Todd English.