A few years ago, as my fiftieth birthday approached, my wife informed me that she had a surprise for me. The week before my birthday she began giving me clues. I could not guess the nature of the surprise, other than the fact that we were going somewhere for my birthday weekend.
We left work early on Friday (my birthday) but until a few hours prior to our departure, I did not know where we were going. Even though our destination was only 5 miles from our home, my wife could not have made a better choice. We went to downtown Houston, the city that I love. We stayed in a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown.
We spent Friday afternoon wandering the tunnel system, which I have written about here and elsewhere. It brought back memories of when I lived downtown and used the tunnels to walk to the library in inclement weather. On Friday night we had a fabulous dinner at Sambuca, and then listened to jazz music on their patio, sipped after dinner drinks, and I enjoyed a cigar. That day alone would have been a spectacular birthday, but there was more.
On Saturday we took a tour of Minute Maid Park, the home of my beloved Astros. We were taken to the press box, the dugout, the bullpen, and other areas of the park that a fan generally does not see. After a nice lunch we visited the Downtown Aquarium, Sam Houston Park, and just wandered around downtown.
As we headed back to the hotel, my wife informed me that we were going to have dinner at Brennan's. I anticipated a meal that would surpass the evening before, and even that expectation was soon surpassed.
As my wife informed the hostess of our reservation, I heard the hostess say something about the "kitchen table". My heart sank a little, thinking that our romantic dinner would take place at a table close to the kitchen and the noise would disrupt our dinner. As we were led through the restaurant, my suspicion grew stronger as we seemed to be heading in the direction of the kitchen.
And then suddenly we were walking into the kitchen. Overwhelmed with perceptions, I thought, "that looks like Dwyane" and turning to my right "that looks like Alice". We were not going to have dinner by the kitchen, we were going to have dinner in the kitchen with 6 of my best friends.
For the next 3 hours we were treated to a 7 course meal prepared by the executive chef. Men were served one dish and women a different dish for each course, so we were able to sample 2 different dishes for each course. In between, the chef visited our table to discuss the dishes, show us various operations of the kitchen, and talk about food.
For dessert we were served every item on their dessert menu. Ignoring any health concerns, we eagerly passed the plates to one another, sampling all of the decadent and delicious food. It was one of the most, if not the most, memorable nights of my life.
The photo I use on this blog was taken that night in the kitchen of Brennan's. It was a very special evening, arranged by a very special woman.