Saturday, August 23, 2008

when clans collide: the great Seattle odyssey

We saved the best for last (but if you tell Thom I said that, of course I will deny everything). Thursday was the day we met our dear friends, Michelle, Harrison (aka GOB), Ash, and Mia for the first time. In the here and now, in the flesh.

Michelle is even more beautiful than I realized. I think the first thing I blurted out to her was "you're so pretty!", followed by "you're a lot taller than I thought!". I am nothing if not eloquent. GOB had already charmed me with his irresistible laugh and his irrepressible humour when we spoke on the phone and he continued to be as
fascinating and utterly charming as he is online and over the wires. Ash and Mia were simply lovely girls, smart, polite, and so tolerant of a quartet of embarrassing parents slobbering all over each other and them.

It was a little reminiscent of the meeting of the Russian mafia clans in Eastern Promises, with a street corner exchange of paper bags bearing gifts of goodwill, except that there were no nude knife fights in the steam bath. Michelle knit the most gorgeous scarves for the Spousal Unit and me, and a totally fierce skullcap for the Resident Offspring. If I didn't suck at wearing hats, I would steal it in a heartbeat.

We wandered down to Pike's Place Market, where the entire population of the American
northwest had also apparently decided to spend the morning shuffling slowly from shop to shop. We checked out an intriguingly smelly herb shop, a mouth-watering Italian market with some amazing looking cheeses that were just begging to be purchased and spend the day inside a suitcase on the way back to Calgary. Common sense did prevail in the end.

We stopped by Pike's fish market - the place where the staff famously throws fish at each other, but only saw a small bag of fillets being tossed to the cashier. Not quite the impact of a whole salmon flying in an arc across the market, but pretty cool nonetheless. The Resident Offspring found a screenplay of Trainspotting (for educational purposes) at a collectibles shop that GOB and Michelle claim hasn't changed one iota since they were kids.

By this time, we were all jonesing for some refreshments pretty badly, so went in search of food and drink. Now you have to understand that our friends actually live across the straight from Seattle, so understandably they are not actually privy to insider information on the Seattle dining scene. They had a couple of places in mind, but these had all morphed into some other entity, so we eventually stumbled upon Luigi's Grotto, which looked very promising - a below stairs Italian restaurant in the fabulous Pioneer Square district.

At this point, I will let my friend GOB describe what went down. He has started penning restaurant reviews/public service announcements about the shoddy business practices of this place. I urge you to please read them and be forewarned if you are ever in Seattle, looking for a place to eat. Evidently
others have also been scammed at this restaurant. The Spousal Unit and I just keep getting more and more disgusted, the more we have time to ruminate on the way we were all taken advantage of by the shyster running this place. Trust me, you have not heard the end of things on this.

However, we were able to sit and chat and get to know one another face to face while we were being ripped off, so some good did come of it, and I will always cherish the time that we broke bread with our friends, but I feel increasingly badly that I did not speak up and demand to see a menu. Shortly after the obligatory photo shoots in the leafy green space of Pioneer Square, we had to say farewell. Now I am working on how we can entice them up to Calgary to crash at Casa Zombie for a few days. A couple of evenings around the firepit with several bottles of wine and we'll have figured out a way to make that Luigi bastard sorry he ever crossed our paths.

Coming up - actual photos of our trip!



Mama Mia!!!! What an experience!

Well written reviews, hopefully people check them out before dining! Can't wait to see your pics!

Allison said...

Holy Cow! That's a large chunk of change for lunch. Glad you're spreading the word about the place though. Ridiculous.

Glad the meeting of the families was fun, despite getting ripped off and such.

Sounds like you had an amazing trip, look forward to photos!

John Mutford said...

You know, I've never met a blogger buddy in person. Stories like this make it seem so charming. So, here's an open invitation to Yellowknife. Incidentally, if you ever do come, we'll have to take you to Bullocks. It's a place that serves fish caught that day and you can write over any part of the restaurant (seriously). It was chosen by readers of Reader's Digest as "Best Fish and Chips in Canada"- even beating out those prideful East-coasters. Unlike Luigis, this place owns it's rudeness and bad service, promoting it as part of their charm. The last time we were there though we tried and tried to get someone to rip us to shreds and they were actually polite- dagnabbit.

Conky said...

omfg........i am speechless over that dining experience....
i am looking fwd to pictures though bc Michelle is not FOND of the camera and i wanna see what u got!

isnt she a stunning creature though...??!?!?!?!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's only really starting to sink in how badly we were swindled, Urban Blonde. Luigi's gonna burn, especially after everybody in Seattle reads GOB's reviews.

It was a sweet meeting, Al! They are such a great family. A fine experience despite the evil Luigi.
I just looked at the photos this morning. The RO took some mighty fine ones that I can't wait to post.

I would love to come visit Yellowknife some day, John, and meeting you would be tops on my list of activities there. COnsider yourselves cordially invited to Calgary at any time as well.
Bullocks sounds like a can't miss place, but I am obviously going to have to practice up on my obnoxiousness so that I can get the full package of rudeness in return. Fortunately this should not be difficult.

I think we have 2 pics of her, Jen, and she is drop dead gorgeous. Fortunately the RO took the photos so you will actually be able to see something.

mellowlee said...

Yikes, that is a huge bill for a crummy lunch :O( Sounds like it was a great visit for your family despite that. Pics of the skullcap pleaaaaaaase!!!

Stephanie said...

That is unbelievable! I hate when stuff like this happens. I would have gotten about $30 in $1 bills and put them under the bill, and then left. $30 in $1 probably looks like a lot of money, so they would have not been suspicious. Then you could have left a note like, "your food tasted like something I could buy out of a can so that's what I intend to pay for it".

Yeah, I'm evil. And I hate forced gratuities!

phlegmfatale said...

Have been to that very memorabilia shop - it totally rocks. I never go to downtown Seattle without hitting the John Fluevog store, riding it hard and putting it away wet. Too bad about the asshats at Luigi's. I've heard of "jerk chicken" before, but never "jerk pasta."

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It was the only stain on the entire glorious trip, Mel, and we are making plans to rectify even that event. Stay tuned!

Damn, I wish we had you there with us, Stephanie, for more reasons than one, but that is exactly what we should have done. Love the way your mind works!

You know, I never got around to any shoe shopping in Seattle, Phlegmfatale, although with the amount of walking I did, you would think it might have occurred to me. That collectibles place is fun, isn't it?

bloody awful poetry said...

Come to Malaysia. We'll show you the filthiest river in the world, and give my parents brain aneurysms at the sight of the company I keep.

Gifted Typist said...

I hereby re-name the restaurant from Luigi's Grotto, to Luigi's Grotty

Will said...

Now as I recall, you also said, "you're a lot taller than I thought!" when you met me.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The sight of me would give your parents brain aneurysms, BAP? Well thank you very much! hahaha I guess I can see your point. They'd be wondering why you are hanging around with old farts.

Grotty and shoddy, he was, Gifted, likely snotty too.

hahaha I DID say that, didn't I, Will? Well you are taller than I expected. Must be more a reflection on my being somewhat height challenged.

Mike Molinari said...

You must have done something really bad o Luigi. I have been dining at this restaurants for 10 years now and have NEVER experienced anything like this.

Maybe next time you guys hould try olive garden, it sounds like you would fit in there better anyway. Paying for good food isnt cheap...... funny how that works. You cant get a mercedes out of a ford, sorry.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm glad you haven't had any negative experiences at Luigi's, Mike. Perhaps he was annoyed that we were his only lunch customers that day and needed to get rid of the previous night's leftovers. That's what it tasted like.

I fully expect to pay for quality food. We certainly did not find any quality food at Luigi's. Perhaps he saves the decent food for his long-term customers and pawns off the swill on people whom he assumes aren't returning anyway.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thought, but I am pretty sure that this is not the case.

Why the mean words? Luigi is a different breed of people, but to call him " a scab on society"...... ouch. You would think he murdered your mother or something to that extent, not serve you "bad" food.

I know that you guys didnt have the best experience, but maybe your friends should think about ruining soemones reputation and slandering them ( which is illegal ) out of anger.

Luigi has served many of my parties, caterings and functions, and will continue to do so.

Maybe your next seattle experience will be better. hope so.