Date 7: Carolina Kitchen
Date 7: Carolina Kitchen
It was a dating mirage, dinner and deep conversations on Valentine’s Day weekend with a “Clever Wordsmith”. We met through a mutual associate and he seemed to have the makings of a great guy. He was funny, cute and passionate about his craft, but best of all he had a slick way of talking that appealed to the part of me that wasn’t raised right. After exchanging messages on a social network over a random weekend, he suggested we meet for an interview about an upcoming project. I pointed out that the project was still months away and he pointed out that we still needed to eat.
I wasn’t hungry but he was, so we agreed to meet at Carolina Kitchen for dinner and libations that evening. The idea of dinner at the Hyattsville eatery, considered one of the premier restaurants in the DMV for southern cuisine, was enough to set my mouth watering.
Owner Lance London has created an elegant yet artistic environment with a down home feel. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a cheery “welcome, welcome, welcome” and treated to menu selections such as the “Ma Pearl specialties” named for his grandmother and inspiration for his chain of restaurants. Every patron is treated like a long lost relative and often greeted personally by London himself who is often onsite to add to the family atmosphere.
Menu fan favorites include: Creole Grilled Salmon, fresh, grilled 8oz Norwegian salmon with a New Orleans Style cream sauce with lump crabmeat & shrimp served over garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese and collard greens and Southern Fried Pork Chops, two country fried pork chops served over rice covered in grandma's gravy with macaroni & cheese and collard greens. If you go be sure to sample signature drinks Caribbean Kiss (Malibu Mango Rum, Sloi Peach Vodka, Pineapple Liqueur and a splash of Pineapple Juice) and Cosmorita (Patrón Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime and Cranberry Juice or one of their homemade desserts, (the banana pudding makes me happy)!
I opted for an appetizer of savory catfish tenders and between bites I quickly learned “Clever Wordsmith” and I shared many things in common. We had a mutual love of writing, humble roots and a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor. From the moment we were seated our conversation, flowed nonstop as we shared our dreams, dating disasters and childhood stories. As we compared notes on what we were looking for in a mate, the tone of the evening began to feel very datish.
Was this a date?
He had originally invited me out for work purposes but we had agreed to postpone the interview. So why had he asked to meet over dinner? In fact, he could have just conducted the whole interview over the phone; hmmm maybe this was a date!
It certainly was starting to feel like one and it certainly looked like one. Couples surrounded us as far as the eye could see; after all it was Valentines weekend. I decided to test the waters; I casually mentioned that I had a friend who thought he was really cute. He seemed caught by surprise by the admission but took it in stride. Our conversation continued to flow and he mentioned a quote from one of my articles which left me speechless.
He actually read my pieces!!! To a writer there is nothing more seductive than someone that really knows your work. My articles are my children so his compliment was the equivalent of him telling me that my children were beautiful. Regardless of whether it was sincere or not the fact that he was well acquainted with my work put him on another level. He had suddenly gotten way cuter, way funnier and the evening was quickly becoming one of the best dates that wasn’t (or was it) ever!
I found myself leaning in more; smiling more …… then the bill came.
And I got my answer; we were NOT on a date at all! Maybe I’m spoiled or a little naïve but my portion of the bill only equated to $8.57 since I never got around to ordering anything more than my appetizer and water. He had enjoyed a drink as well as an entree but he instructed our server to split the bill!!!! This meant I was not only paying for my food but a portion of his as well. It was our first time out together so I was a little taken aback. Wasn’t he the one who suggested we go out to eat? Wasn’t the one who suggested usually the one who pays?
In all my adventures with the opposite sex I had NEVER had a guy suggest we go Dutch our first time out, date or not. It wasn’t because I was opposed to paying, I’ve treated and I have gone Dutch in groups but NEVER in an intimate setting. As we settled the bill, I settled “Clever Wordsmith” solidly in the “friend” category in my mind.
Maybe I was spoiled the men in my life have always treated me like a lady. I come from a cross cultural household and in my father’s village if a man is interested he would bring the family a goat or at minimum a rooster, so I was shocked that I wasn’t even worth an appetizer????
This was definitely not a date!
1. Make sure you bring your own goat! Always be prepared to pay, you never know where the evening will lead. Don’t assume you dining companion is your personal sponsor.
2. Make your dating intentions clear. Sometimes signals can be mixed and although it’s awkward to ask it put your feelings on the table. A simple question like am I someone you would be interested in can quickly clear the air or at least set the tone for the evening.
3. Don’t invite a girl out on Valentines weekend if you have no romantic interest. It’s a single girl’s personal hell to be single on that day and even worse to be out on that day with a guy who likes you but not like that.