October 10, 2007

Virginia Cafe (725 SW Park Ave., though not for long)

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I saw this article in Willamette Week a few weeks ago and remembered my last visit to the Virginia Cafe. I had dinner with my friends at Le Happy that night. Had good conversation and a good steak salad. We decided to see a movie - 2 Days in Paris.

My sister and ambitious friends decided to walk from Le Happy to the Fox Tower for the movie. Me? I'm a wimp. Also, I can only walk long distances in my sneakers or Columbia Sportswear sandals, or else I end up with bad blisters and, well, I'm a diabetic, so that's just bad. I told them I would meet them at the theater in about 45 minutes.

Secretly, I was still hungry. The salad was good, but it was mostly lettuce and even though it had a really good vinaigrette on it, it didn't really fill me up. I parked at the SmartPark on 10th and Yamhill and headed towards the movie theater.

I walked to the corner and turned my head. The Virginia Cafe lit up the street in the darkness with the red outline of the letters on the sign. Like in one of those old movies where the enchanted diner is beckoning to the heroine to come in. I totally fell for it.

The smoke was a tad overwhelming, but the service was prompt. I already knew what I wanted as soon as I looked at the menu. Fried mozzarella sticks. I needed something warm and cheesy. My cheese was delivered in under 7 minutes, I would say and the waitress, though servicing a mostly drinking crowd, did not seem annoyed at me that I only ordered an $7.00 appetizer and a glass of water.

I ate quickly, paid my bill, left a tip and made my way to the movie theater. "One for 2 Days in Paris," I said as I dug my wallet out of my purse. I had specifically gotten an extra $20 bill for the evening so that I could pay cash for everything (so much easier when you are with a group!), but it was not there. I had only a $5 bill. Crap. Paid with my debit card and then, puzzled, retraced my financial footsteps through the evening. I should still have a $20. I worked through it again. Nope, no way around it. I lost a $20. Maybe I dropped it between the cafe and the movie theater.

I walked back to the cafe, staring at the ground, as if a $20 bill would be lying on the sidewalk on a Friday night in downtown Portland, just waiting for me to retrieve it. Maybe the waitress found it.

As I entered the cafe, my waitress saw me and smiled. "I knew there must be a mistake," she said as she pulled a $20 bill from her apron pocket. "It didn't make sense!" I was so grateful to her - I almost wanted her to keep it, but then I thought that almost $30 for mozzarella sticks was a little steep. Sometime though, I'll have to go back and see if she is still there. I'll leave her a big tip next time.

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2 comments:

Sara said...

Now you tell us! We were all wondering how it was possible that you got the theater just barely before us. But now I have to wonder how you were able to get there and eat an appetizer at Virginia Cafe and still beat us to the theater! The total walking time is only about 20 minutes.

Lizzy said...

Well, I was a little embarrassed that I ate dinner and THEN went and got fried cheese. And I forgot to say that the fried cheese was EXCELLENT. I was so wrapped up in the $20 that I overlooked that.