The two of us are not dating, but that did not stop us from e-mailing Lisa Champagne, assistant manager of Dining Services, to tell her that we were engaged and would like a prime table at ’82 Grill’s inaugural Thursday Date Night. Lisa happily obliged and we were seated immediately upon our arrival for our 9:30 p.m. reservation. Warning: This article format was stolen from Gawker’s “The Best Restaurant in New York Is…” series by Caity Weaver and Rich Juzwiak. Check it out; they’re much funnier than we are.
CH: Natalee and I got to downstairs Paresky at 9:30 p.m. There were tables set up by consulting firms for Paresky Auditorium recruitment meetings. Natalee grabbed a slice of cheese on the way in. “Gotta love that sweet Deloitte Swiss,” she told me.
ND: “This is the cheese restaurant! You’re eating cheese on your way into the cheese restaurant!” Whatever, Chris. We were seated at a corner table with cozy proximity to the football game on TV. This table featured a white tablecloth, a vase of flowers and some flickering electric candles. I picked one up by the flame. [’82 Grill Cook’s Assistant] Judy [Bober] informed us that the drink selection was as per usual, with one notable addition.
CH: “We also have Perrier.”
ND: Chris passed on the Perrier and ordered “a glass of the house red.”
CH: You got the same. It was wine, is the most I’ll say about it!
ND: We ordered our salads at the same time. I got mine with vinaigrette, while Chris got the bleu cheese. He insisted that we spell it “bleu” in the article.
CH: It was the standard ’82 Grill bleu cheese dressing, but I like the standard bleu cheese dressing.
ND: Chris immediately wanted to know the deal with each of the other “couples.” Behind him was a friend of ours, Record Managing Editor Lauren Bender ’15, with her long-term boyfriend, but the other table belonged to two strangers. When we arrived, it turned out the guy was in the bathroom, but Chris was worried that the girl had been stood up. He kept saying, “I want to ask them what their status is.”
CH: After salad came the main course. You could order any of the usual options – salads, sandwiches, pizzas or wings. We both got pizza.
ND: We considered sharing a large pizza, purely because we saw that it would come on a silver platter, but Chris was too indecisive. I tried my best to imply to Judy that this was a problem we fought about a lot.
CH: I got pesto cream, with sundried tomatoes, feta and garlic. “Garlic, tsk tsk, not good for a date night,” Bender said.
ND: People were constantly interrupting our date and hovering over the table to talk to us, because they had no manners and must have been raised by wolves. Anyway, I got pesto cream with feta, black olive and artichokes. The pizzas were the same pizzas you always get, which is to say they were amazing.
CH: This is when Natalee told me that her name in Arabic class freshman year was Sharifa. “It means honorable,” presumably referring to her commitment to eating cheese. She then told me she was going to cry because of how charming Judy and Lisa were, for the 45th time.
ND: It wasn’t an idle threat. The Dining Services staff members who served us were devastatingly sweet as usual. Those guys were nicer to me than people who should be nice to me, like my friends.
CH: While we ate our pizzas we talked about jobs because we’re seniors and terrible self-loathing clichés.
ND: We then spent about three minutes trying to guess the height of Ben Eastburn ’15 [Record Editor-in-Chief], as he had stopped by to get a Caprese salad. “I’m six foot, almost six one,” he told us with a bit of hesitation when he came over to check in.
CH: Our second round of wine arrived. Natalee proposed a toast, “to the most harrowing year of our lives.”
ND: Chris asked, “This year or last year?” I meant last year, when we were at Oxford, but he followed up with “I expect to get harrowed.” I couldn’t argue with that.
CH: Our desserts came soon after. The surprise was chocolate cake.
ND: It was spongy chocolate cake topped with hot fudge and a few raspberries. It was really good.
CH: After we finished off our wine we called it a night. As is to be expected, we both had homework to finish.
Questions about the Dining Experience courtesy of “The Best Restaurant in New York Is…”
Would you go back?
CH: Yeah, definitely. It’s a really good deal, as far as dining hall swipes go. You usually don’t get dessert at the Grill.
ND: Of course! Oh my god, definitely. Even if there were no food, I would go for the sole purpose of hanging out with Lisa and Judy.
Is it a good first date spot?
CH: It would probably be an okay “first date” spot for people who have been friends for a long time. Maybe not the best choice for a date with a near-stranger, unless you’re “quirky.” I’m apparently using scare quotes in this answer.
ND: I agree with that assessment. It might be a weird place to bring someone you just met. Nothing says “this is serious” like the fire safety-compliant glow of an electric candle.
Is it a good place to have an affair?
CH: Yes. Refuge in audacity. No one would believe it was a real date and so no one would suspect it was an affair.
ND: Very clever. I’m going to go with no.
Is it a good place to get drunk?
CH: Fairly. The wine isn’t great but it’s cheap, and they have Angry Orchard cider!
ND: The wine glass was what my mom calls a “generous pour.” Definitely a good deal, in terms of liquid-to-dollar ratio.
CH: Our notes did get kind of weird. One of us reportedly said, “There are counts that aren’t vampires, you know,” after the second glass of wine. We don’t know how that came up or who said it, but it’s in the notes.
Is it a good place to bring your homework?
CH: Apparently, yes. Multiple people, including a friend of ours, didn’t realize that our notepads indicated we were there for a Record article. They assumed it was homework instead?
ND: Judy asked directly if we were doing homework. Like a character in a French film, I didn’t want to shatter the carefully constructed lie that was our life, so we didn’t bring up the Record.