"Silverlake was like, nothing ten years ago. Now it's full of hipsters, cafes and million-dollar houses" I explained to Pauly, as I headed north on a random side street east of Hoover. Rush hour traffic had forced me off the routes I knew, and I was forced to engage in a little last-minute improvisation.
"You're lost, aren't you?" Pauly said.
"Well... yeah. But I know I'm heading north and that's where we need to be heading. I'll eventually fina a street I recognize. Like Santa Monica Boulevard. Keep looking for Santa Monica Boulevard."
Silverlake was our destination for dinner with poker supercouple Jen Leo and John "Schecky" Caldwell. Somehow I manage to get lost any time I try to find that neighborhood. It's like the freaking Brigadoon of Los Angeles. After snaking through some sketchy side streets, I finally did find Santa Monica Boulevard, and took it in the proper direction to the spot where it met Sunset. From there I could rely on numbers to find the restaurant, Cliff's Edge, a romantic little Italian-Mediterranean joint with a woodsy-chic candlelit patio.
Jen and John were already there when we arrived... and they had quite an announcement for us. Pauly already knew, since he and Schecky had spent the last week traveling together in Australia and was privy to the ring purchase, but I turned all squealy and girly the minute I saw Jen's stunning Australian sapphire and diamond engagement ring! (See Calistri's Corner for a pic). After two years, John and Jen are making if official and tying the knot this summer in Las Vegas. The wedding date? 7-7-07! The slot machine! SHIP IT!
Dinner was lovely and delicious. Schecky had the shrimp and saffron risotto and Jen a perfectly tender rack of lamb in a spicy peppercorn sauce, while Pauly and I both opted for beef-- he the filet in a gorgonzola cheese sauce, me the rib-eye with mushrooms and fried polenta squares. Pauly's steak came with a bit of steamed spinach on the side and Jen offered to eat it within minutes of its arrival. Pauly had no objection, since he wouldn't be consuming it without a significant monetary offer on the table.
After dinner, we walked down the street to Good, a neighborhood microbrew-pub for beers and Chinese Poker. I had pint of the Honey Blonde Ale (apropos, no?) and it came in a goblet that was so heavy it took both hands to lift. On my very first hand, I got scooped three ways, putting me 12 points in the hole right off the bat. Schecky took a huge lead and never had to look back. Pauly's bad Chinese poker juju carried over nineteen time zones and the poor guy just couldn't win a hand. I fought valiantly, though and picked up a few juiced hands, including quad sevens and a queen high straight flush to unstick myself and even finish up 6 points. Poor Pauly finished -38 and paid the table on our way out, but refrained from going on MCPT (Mega Chinese Poker Tilt).
It was a lovely evening out in the city and Ms. Leo was especially excited to be hitting the town instead of tucked away in Pasadena. Congrats again to Jen and John and don't get offended if your friends start making wagers on your marriage. We're hopeless addicts and just can't help it.