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November 03, 2001

Mallorca: A Heavenly Experience

Players: Samantha, Angelique, Viren, several very attentive servers, and one vereeeeeee attentive and good-looking ogler.

For all you DCites (DCers?), this would be in the part of the world that is dark, dank and dreary all the time...no, not London, England but Cleveland, Ohio. But, when all said and done, the trip out there might be worth it just for the food (needless to say, and in imminent danger of turning this sappy, it's always worth it for the company).

Act II, Scene II: Whither goest thou?

Now contrary to all my previous dining sojourns, where the bulk of our time is taken up by pretentious (because really, who are we kidding with our snooty dining preferences?), semi-coherent ramblings concerning the locus of our gastronomic endeavors, which mainly take the shape and form (while remaining completely amorphous) of ever-changing opinions, impromptu vetoes and childish sulking, this time around was refreshingly different (which circumstance had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn't given a choice). Samantha, taking matters into her own hands, decided to be proactive and suggest Mallorca as a destination and I agreed (and stop with the amazed gasps). We were going to go on Thursday night for dinner, but Tony having an inexplicable hatred of Mallorca, we instead went to Sergio's (which, my dear readers, is an entirely different tale). So, having resolved to go to Mallorca, Samantha decided that we should go there for lunch on Friday (she was being amazingly decisive that day). So the decision was made with haste, but not unduly so, and with certitude, but again not overwhelmingly so. I, being in Cleveland for the company and not the food (even though we all know that Cleveland is a virtual gourmet oasis situated in the midst of a rather large wasteland), was happy and content, and thus most agreeable to informed suggestions.

Act II, Scene III: Who ventures afield with thee?

So, the original plan was for Friday lunch to be with Samantha and Lisa (who I hadn't seen this trip since she didn't wanna leave Ryan alone on Thursday night, and didn't want to bring him to the bar either -- excuses, excuses). However, the gods intervened and decided to mix things up. We managed to coax Angelique out from her busy schedule (twice in as many days -- wow! Since I am usually filled with a grandiose sense of self-importance, I'll attribute that to me being in Cleveland -- most sane people wouldn't, but then *shrug*),and that's an impressive feat, or so I hear -- this girl's got way too many things going on, doing the time management equivalent of juggling a 7-ball circle with no hands. Color me envious, and let's move on (True Confessions: I've always had a complex about my complete and utter inability to manage my time better). Lisa' story is a little more complicated, but it boils down to her not being able to make it to the tete-a-tete. I'll update Lisa's situation as the story unfolds.

So, it ends up being me all alone with Samantha & Angelique, and as you can imagine, I had an absolutely 'orrible time (right, and I also dress up as the Queen of Sheba every full moon, but don't tell anyone, please).

Act II, Scene IV: Morning Ramblings

Friday Morning:
Here I am, having just woken up from oblivion, by the passing hug bestowed on me by Tony as he left for work (Other than the fact that Tony's very touchy-feely, there was also the matter of the goodbye commiserations -- he had to work and I had to leave for parts unknown). Though, I guess I would have woken up anyway, being in a strange place on a strange couch with no strangers to lure me back to sleep.

So, I commence with my morning ablutions, which in a strange place are always in some state of discombobulation. Nothing's in the right place, and more importantly the right things are not there at all! I seriously do not know how people expect me to walk into the cold bathroom in the morning without my furry green bunny slippers, which imbue me with a feeling of warmth and a shield of warm fuzzies to battle the frigid, clinical environs of bathrooms. Now, I grant you that calling my bathroom at home "clinical" would be a massive misuse of the word, bordering on a language felony, but it's the shiny, white quality of nearly all bathrooms that leaves me with such an impression. Back to the topic at hand (rather than the multitude in the nonexistent bush -- which is another peeve of mine, but I'll spare you that self-pitying ramble): So, I go thru my morning routine as best I can, ever mindful not to trip over Tony's gym that overlaps his living room in this time-space continuum such that you can never tell which room you are in, and what furniture/equipment you are next likely to encounter. I get through all these obstacles and am finally done with it, all shiny and sparkly and ready to brave the new world out there (literally -- it was all sunny and nice that morning, and 'twas a different Cleveland, like someone spray-painted a new facade on it overnight), and about to resign myself to a couple of hours spent in front of the ever-dreaded idjit box, when lo and behold, who should appear but a heavenly messenger sent to rescue me from the dreary dearth of dancing dromedaries. [HUH? That didn't make sense even to my warped brain, but you get the meaning]. Oh, did I mention that that was Samantha at the door? I didn't? Well, read my mind, dear reader -- it's not like I'm supposed to be communicating with you through any other medium.

Act II, Scene V: The Descent of Angels

So there's Samantha, wearing jeans (why do I feel a need to mention that? because she's gonna be reading this and I feel I should continue riding my current hobby horse about her and jeans, flogging it to death even). This is not to imply in any fashion whatsoever that she wasn't wearing anything else, because I wouldn't dare do so, even if it were true, which it wasn't, so can we just let this whole thread waft away into the breeze? Thanks! Anyway, there she was, being Samantha'ish. Now, you realize what this meant? No? Let me enlighten you concerning this fiasco. There's the two of us in one room with no one else there, and we had to decide on what we wanted to do for the rest of the morning until such time as lunch would demand to be eaten, and we didn't even have my pet Ouija board there to help us. The conversation concerning this topic was not pretty, unless you were a student of psychology studying the psychosomatic phenomenon of chronic iudiciophobia.

Now, I'm all for witty conversation and extended debates about various topics, but our meandering vocalizations on what to do until lunch went along sooo slowly that a passing snail that was creeping along the window sill was hard put to slow down enough to catch the gist of it. There was mention of Presty's but its donut place had already closed (damn stores that close by 10am), and then there was the nebulous "we could go somewhere" and finally the mention of some coffee shop. Samantha meanwhile called up Lisa, who was in a meeting and thus couldn't be found, and Angelique who was in some place where the phone wasn't ringing. Then, prompted by divine inspiration or just bit in the ass by the passing snail (who apparently couldn't bear it any longer), I sprang from the couch and pulled Sam off her non-comfy chair -- which left her with such a bemused expression on her face that I could hear her brain going: "What the heck? this is very un-Viren-like. Oh God, what's he up to now?". Anyway, we were soon on our way to Arabica, this coffee shop that's on the CWRU campus and very close to some of the more important sorority houses (which, for some people, is all that matters. And truthfully, it probably is awfully convenient for the smoke and coffee sessions after. Bye. Now we talk of other things)

So we arrive at Arabica, and order 2 hot chocolates (my drink of choice at coffee shops) complete with huge mounds of whipped cream. Angelique decides to take this moment to call and so I run outside to where I can actually hear her, and she decides to join us at Arabica, much to everyone's delight. Meanwhile, Sam and I sit down and inject some much needed life into our corporeal selves by ingesting the steaming beverages. We while away time by talking about frivolities

--
(pardon me while I take a huge sidestep down another trail for a while, but this can't wait. Is anything in life really a frivolity? at least as far as conversations go. I could be talking about the amount of hair that Ashley Judd's dog sheds, and it could still be meaningful conversation -- BTW: I really wish that the amount of hair that Ashley Judd's dog sheds would be a constant irritation in my life. That would indeed make me happy -- you learn about the way my mind works (don't worry, professionals have failed in this task), and what I think about (Ashley Judd), and in general you get an inkling into my inner being. So, why is the conversation trivial or frivolous? It could be boring, I suppose, but frivolous? that's just you not wishing to learn about me, and if that's the case, fie on you.)

-- and waiting for the final member of the trio to appear. I get to listen about life on campus which gets me wondering about why I ever left academia -- I mean it might be a separate world, sort of disconnected from most of reality, but isn't that what we are all looking for? Reality is for those with an underdeveloped sense of imagination and lack of abusable substances, and no one has ever accused academics of either of those things. Eventually Angelique appears (along with the obligatory thunderclap and trumpet solo -- you think I'm kidding, don't ya?) and we hang around a bit more, while continuing the process of getting hold of Lisa. The latter continues to fail since getting access to Lisa at work seems to be a futile task [enough so that Sisyphus took a break from his labor to laugh at us]. We eventually give up and decided to wend our way to Mallorca, after leaving a suitable message for Lisa.

Act III: Scene I: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

So you would think that you, my dear reader, are finally getting down to the gist of things, the heart of the matter, the meatballs among the sauce, the pigs out of the swill, the actual restaurant review ( but really, if that's all that you wanted to read, you wouldn't be here, would you?), but there I thwart you again, or rather fate does thru the simple expedient of giving me more to talk about. The next obstacle in our quest was that none of the natives knew where Mallorca was. Now you would think that in these modern times, finding the solution would be a mere phone call away. Riiiight, maybe in your part of the world, but Cleveland's special (or maybe it's just Ohio). We call up 411, and get the number for Mallorca. Easy enough. We then call up said number and ask for directions. We get directions from random spot "A" in the city to Mallorca, which would be all fine and dandy if we knew where "A" was. Now, I blame this all on Samantha -- if she had just wheedled some more, promised a few things, breathed heavily and generally acted normal, we would've, I promise you, had directions in a jiffy. But no, she had to get all coy, which left us at square one. But, I or rather my car, came to the rescue with my rather (on the face of it) absurd statement "Let's go in my car, it will tell us how to get there." That statement emanating from my mouth, the universe created an instant noise dampening field around said part of body with the result that no one heard me, or maybe they were all just ignoring me (say it isn't so!). I finally explain my thought process to them, and we shimmy over to my car which is at one of the afore-mentioned sorority house parking lots.

Debemos apagado ver al mago

It's kinda like magic having an Onstar system in your car. You press the button, and some omniscient, all-knowing voice resounds in the car, and always seems eager to fulfill your wishes, which isn't all that great since most of my wishes need corporeal entities to be present, but it stills ranks up there in wunnerfulness with Oreos, talking dolphins and Douglas Adams. And while it doesn't begin to approach Audrey Hepburn and chocolate, I sure like it. Tho, I've never seen anyone as excited as Samantha upon discovering Onstar. She was bubbling over with so much excitement that all she could get out of her mouth were these little noises that probably sounded really weird to the all-knowing personage (except being all-knowing, they knew what Samantha was trying to say). Now, I'm usually modest in my wants when it comes to Onstar, a little direction here, some whirled peas there, every now and then I would like fantasies brought to life -- all relatively minor stuff. So, it came as no surprise to them when all I did with the might of Onstar was ask them how to get to Mallorca (note that I could have asked them to teleport us there, but I'm a man of little needs), and they didn't bother telling me that it was beneath their dignity to move the awesome might of Onstar to perform such a trivial deed. Now I know how the Major felt on "I dream of Jeannie" and how Darren felt on "Bewitched" (no, no, get your mind outta the gutter, I just meant that they must have been in awe of these superhuman abilities at their command/request). Anyway, we got directions and all was well with the world. Though, at some point, remind me to tell you about Samantha discovering the buttons to heat the seats in the car.

Act III, Scene II: In the Land of Oz

It's surreal being in any city's downtown area during a weekday, when you are not there for business purposes. Cleveland's was no exception. You have all these people walking determinedly from here to there (and sometimes even from yonder to thither) who couldn't be bothered to smile at another person when they make eye contact (which to be fair is not all that often, since they stare fixedly at the ground most of the time). there's just this aura of aloofness about everyone with the "Beware of Dog" sign prominently painted on people's backs (which sometimes I mistake for the "Kick me" sign). It makes me feel sad that I've joined the ranks of the business zombies wearing deeper and deeper ruts into the same old path everyday. I keep hoping that behind the dull, boring, pretentious facade, there's this little likeable man pretending to be the mighty wizard.

So there we were, finally within a stone's throw of Mallorca, in the heart of downtown (actually, for all I know it wasn't quite the heart of downtown, but close enough). Finding parking was surprisingly easy, and I nearly had apoplexy when not only did we spot a parking garage right next to the restaurant, but we also found lots of available parking spaces in it. We choose one after due deliberation, parked there, and walked over to Mallorca. Now, Mallorca didn't seem to be very imposing. It was on the first floor of a nondescript middle-aged building with a semi-washed out sign proclaiming to all of Cleveland that here lieth the restaurant you desire. But, the important part of this is that we were finally at Mallorca.

Act III, Scene III: The Royal Treatment

And the stage is set. We enter the restaurant, eager and willing (partly from hunger, partly 'cause that's jus the way we are). We are greeted at the entrance by no less than 4 employees, all of whom were dressed impeccably in a white jacket of the standard server variety -- not quite a tuxedo, not quite a lab coat, but more of a scientist dressed up for a formal date with the talented labrat -- and black pants. Now, I recognize that I was with 2 young, dare I say nubile women, but that's no reason to ignore me like I was a piece of rotting fish (though I'm sure they would have paid more attention to rotting fish since it would smell bad). The conversation went something like this:

Me 3, please
Waiter #2 (staring at Samantha) How many?
Me (rolls eyes) umm...3, please.
Waiter #2 (giving me a dirty look) Of course.
Waiter #3 (looking in the direction of Angelique)Smoking or non-smoking?
Me (just to be irritating) Non-smoking, please.
Waiter #3 (forms dirty look curiously similar to the one afforded me by waiter #2. They could have been brothers if similar expressions were all that mattered.)
Waiter #2 (stares significantly at waiter #1)
Waiter #1 (shakes head as if to clear it) Oh, follow me, please.
We (Exit stage left)

Now the more perceptive among you might begin to wonder as to what waiter #1 was doing all this while. I mean, he seemed to be the de facto "head waiter" with authority to order everyone else around (as we saw later), so why was he mum? Maybe because he spent the entire time staring at Samantha's midriff (or maybe just at Samantha, though later events validate my initial hypothesis).

As we followed "midriff-guy", I did my usual looking around at the restaurant knowing that I'll, in all probability, be writing up another excessively long non-review of this restaurant. In spite of this attempt on my part, I can't remember a thing about Mallorca. I have this vague impression of a sea of dark wood with walls of white bobbing on it. Everything below the waist level was either made of the same dark wood or matched it. The restaurant was broken up into these pseudo-rooms that gave it a feeling of a cozy, personal dining room, which I liked a lot. There was very little noise, which may have been due to the scarcity of diners present, but I figure it also had something to do with the way the restaurant was laid out. The interior parts of the restaurant were a little on the dark side, but we shortly emerged into a nice brightly lit (natural light courtesy the huge windows and the unnatural sunniness of that Cleveland day) room where we were seated. Now, you may think that being seated is a trivial task not worthy of being mentioned here. You would be wrong. Not that I had problems with the seating process, but it hearkened back to days of royalty and ostentatiousness with more attendants than diners. I had not realized that we were being followed by the entire coterie of employees that had greeted us at the entrance. However, I quickly found out, as mysterious hands smoothly and efficiently pulled out and proferred chairs for us to be seated upon. The cherry on the sundae was that they nicely tucked the chairs back in concordance with us sitting on them. Do you know how difficult it is to seat someone such that not only do you not hit the back of their knees with the chair, but so that their read end (buttocks, even) firmly abut the chair back? You need to spend years in meditation and practice to perfect this art! And yet most of us dismiss it as of no consequence. Learn to appreciate the finer points in life.

Anyway, seated and ready to enter the fray, we started perusing the contents of the menu. The first thing that struck me was the there wasn't anything resembling what I thought of as Spanish food (my spanish cuisine thoughts being limited at that point to paella). Most of the dishes sounded like they could be obtained at any neo-cuisine restaurant. However, I did not let that faze me at all. Now, one of the items on the menu in the appetizer section was Calamari. So, of course, Samantha immediately suggests that we get it. This, in spite of having the knowledge thoroughly embedded in her mind that I hate seafood. Me, being a good-natured fellow decided to make the terrible, terrible sacrifice (after a bit of an argument with my taste buds) and agree to the fried cephalopod dish. The things we do for friends! That settled, we tried to harmonize our entree selection. Just as we were about to start that, "midriff-guy" came to our table to recite the list of specials that they had today (I won't bore you with details as to whom he was facing, where he was looking and to whom the recital was directed. You are of moderately intelligent stock; figure it out). Now, lest I lead you to think that upto this point the employee cabal had been dissing us, let me disabuse you on that point. About a millisecond (I don't have greater granularity than that as far as time-keeping is concerned) after we were seated, we had one of the waiters flit around our table filling in all our glasses with water. He then disappeared, only to emerge out of thin air everytime someone's glass was less than 95.69% full, do the needful and vanish again. Now, it is conceivable that he was merely blending into the white walls (what with wearing a white jacket) but I consider that highly improbable. This continued for the rest of our dining experience, much to our delight and amusement. But, back to the recital of specials. About a third of the way thru the recital, "midriff-guy" mentioned the "Crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp" special, and you could see Samantha's eyes dilate, her body go all limp and mouth start to drool (I don't even want to know what midriff guy attributed this change in her demeanor to). I figured we all knew what Samantha was getting. Now the question devolved to Angelique and me. I, being the seafood hater that I am, was trying to decide between two chicken dishes and finally settled on the "Pollo Al Vino". However, Angelique had just come to that decision too. Now, anyone who's ever read Miss Manners knows that given a small party of diners, one should not order the same dish as another person at the table -- it's the worst of table sins (And speaking of Miss Manners, I was apparently sitting next to one of her disciples -- who for her sake shall remain nameless -- and I proceeded to learn the exact uses of my 2 forks, one of which I swear was cloned from the other). I also remembered some vestige of civilization buried deep inside me, and so trying to act the gentleman, volunteered to have a *gulp* seafood dish -- the the same dish. Now that the orders had been given, we sat back, relaxed and swapped parental anecdotes (in case the meaning is not clear enough: no, not anecdotes of our kids, but anecdotes of our parents).

Act III, Scene IV: Manna from Heaven

Shortly after, we had our first dish arrive -- the Calamari. I had already nerved myself to eat this wriggly, tentacle-y dish, so I did not shirk from my duty, but instead vigorously attacked the dish in the hope that the quicker it was dealt with, the sooner I could rest easy. The Calamari itself was the most exquisitely cooked that I had ever eaten (and that's saying a lot). It was tasty without being in the least bit chewy. It almost melted in your mouth. The only problem with it was the extremely sparse coating of batter that they applied to it (Fried batter is the life-blood of most good foods), combined with the mundane sauce they provided with it. We quickly finished most of it, inspite of the huge amounts that they saw fit to present us with. Almost before we were done with it, our food arrived.

Now, here's some trivia: George Crum in 1853 invented what we know today as potato chips. Interesting as that fact is, what I really want to know is why we got served potato chips under the guise of "Spanish fried potatoes" at Mallorca (they are a side dish that come with every entree). Here I was, expecting a nice exotic variation on the whole fried potato theme, when, to my dismay, I get served potato chips. Now, as potato chips go, they were fine, thin, crispy and not greasy. But, I still felt I got cheated out of a good side dish. Other than the above complaint, the food was wonderful -- delightfully flavored and pleasantly perfection and slightly charred in places, which is what with my intense dislike of seafood). The only thing that I would have added was a sauce to go with it, preferably something tangy or sharp. I, being piggish when it comes to food, tasted both the other entrees. The shrimp were fantastic. The crab and the shrimp seemed to work together so well that you didn't get the strong shrimp taste that I normally detest. The dish was well cooked and very well flavored (if I continue this, I'm going to feel like one of the commentators from "Iron Chef"). The final entree was the chicken cooked in a wine sauce. This, while a very good dish, did not in my opinion, measure up to the other dishes we had. Don't get me wrong, in most other circumstances this would have been accorded the place of honor, but the field here was just too good. I think part of the reason is that Mallorca seems to primarily be a seafood place -- though maybe that's just because Spanish cuisine leans that way.

We were now asked the age-old question: dessert anyone? We, after considerable inner struggle refrained. Then we had the same ole struggle about paying, and Samantha finally won that battle thru the wily use of the "I'm going to be hurt and saddened and my eyes are getting all teary"-eyes and judicious pouting of the lips. I gave up in a hurry and resolved to stare at blank walls next time we fought over this. The arrival of the bill and the taking of the credit card was as speedy as their service and so departure time was soon upon us. Now, this would've have been non-eventful except that Samantha decides to stretch (or some similar body motion) just as she got up resulting in her exposing even more of her midriff. This apparently stunned "midriff-guy", who was clearly taken aback by this maneuver. Samantha had just won the war. I may have neglected to mention that "midriff-guy" was a good-looking, exotic half-spanish, half-random-other-nationality "tight package" that may or may not have been noticed by her.

Act III, Scene V: The Aftermath

We left in good cheer, sated by the good experience. The only problem with the whole outing being the non-appearance of Lisa. All in all, one of my better dining experiences. Tho I left there with a saddened heart since I had to leave Cleveland soon in order to make Jennifer & Michael's wedding rehearsal.

I end with my usual reassurances that while the events and people described in this piece of work are based on reality, they may not mirror every facet of the truth due to the taking of certain artistic licenses by yours truly. The ability to discern the truth within the pack of lies above, I leave to you, good reader, in order that I not limit your fervid enjoyment of it.

Ratings

Service Speedy yet unintrusive
Decor Bland
Food Good