How lovely to be fiftysomething and still feel twentysomething giddy about celebrating a birthday with a romantic dinner for two. Even lovelier is the fact that, at Old Warsaw, you can close your eyes and taste 20 years younger, because our senses don’t lose memory like our brains lose cells. Continental classics pour deux are l’affaire du jour at Old Warsaw, and romance, albeit schmaltzy, comes easily. The pianist still plays love songs; the waiters still roll trolleys and prepare dishes tableside. At least we thought so. Like love-struck merrymakers we sat side by side in an elevated booth on the side wall. We ordered everything pour deux: Caesar salad, Chateaubriand, and cherries jubilee, then waited for the show to begin. In the center of the room a waiter parked a cart, picked up a large wooden bowl and a gravy boat, poured a prepared dressing, and tossed the salad before he divided it into two plates. He headed in our direction and placed the salads in front of us. “Hey,” we whined. “We want the whole show. Please prepare the Chateaubriand at our table.” Back to our intimate party we went. Our salad plates were lifted and replaced by larger ones with an identical arrangement of meat (cooked perfectly medium rare), and vegetables. No fanfare. “Please flambé the dessert so close that the flame singes our eyebrows,” we pleaded. Strike three. The warm crepes covered with cherries arrived after being flambéed in the center of the room. Our waiter explained that dining room preparation happens only in the center of the room, because it’s too difficult to negotiate the corners with the trolleys. I’m no spacial-relations expert, but the aisles were wide enough for two of us to walk side by side, and the tables we passed were empty all evening. A little extra effort would have encouraged us to plan a sixtysomething celebration.
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