Dinner at STK in West Hollywood (so new, so hot) with Kathleen and fabulous Australian fashion designer Rhonda Betts started much later than we had anticipated.
K was coming from prepping a huge event at the LACMA, and, according to the hostess, we couldn't be seated until all three of us were present (our res had been for 9:15). However, once we were all gathered - cocktails in hand, purchased at the bar where a scruffy DJ spun some 60s doo-wop and 80s rock - David, the dashing manager who tried his best to cater to the needs of the growing crowd, was all apologies and informed us our original table wouldn't be ready. Reluctantly pulling the I-Know-Someone Card, I asked David if the owner was on the premises for a quick hello. Clearly he got my hint, and with a promise to make it up to us later, he told us a better table was being set up and "would be ready shortly."
Thankfully I wasn't too famished. I had nibbled on some tuna before leaving the house, and the cherry cosmo I just finished was working its wonders on my face. Rhonda was already on her second Southern Comfort and Diet when we were finally seated.
Jason Statham, just as chisled and short in person as one would imagine, was at a table across from us, chatting it up with an entourage that consisted of obligatory hotness and sharks in tie-free suits. Throughout the night he seemed to have been making rounds both at the bar and at his table of posers.
Our server, Andrew, was a ball of energy, killing us all with a big smile full of pearly whites. An actor no less, something I learned while eavesdropping on his exchange with the diners next to us. He offered a bottle of STK's finest pinot noir as we ordered appetizers: Foie Gras French toast with green apple, almond brioche, and sherry gastrique and a dozen raw oysters with cups of red wine vinagrette and cocktail sauce.
We all ordered steaks. My 16-ounce New York was topped with black truffles, and along with the sides of mac and cheese, garlic asparagus, parmesean fries and golden mash, it was a decadent feast fit for a gluttonous royal. David's apologetic gesture for making us wait turned out to be an on-the-house dessert, STK's special dessert trifecta: banana bread pudding (the best), strawberry shortcake and chocolate donut balls filled with a raspberry cream (eh - not so much).
Few of you may remember how Kathleen and I met Rhonda. Since then, Kathleen had the pleasure of visiting Rhonda and her family in Melbourne last year, whereas I had the pleasure of living vicariously through Kathleen.
Talks of traveling the world rounded out the night, and Rhonda became determined to concoct a business strategy for me and Kathleen (she's quite the proud businesswoman) so that we could take over the world ourselves. She even went so far as to extend an invitation to her Melbourne beach house in November, or whenever, and hang out with her three children, all twentysomethings carving out their own niches in the world (documentarian, clothing designer and musician).
I love a good niche.
I drove Rhonda back to the Luxe, the boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, the scene from our first encounter back in June of 2006. It was nearing one in the morning, and I was struggling to stay awake and keep my stomach from further upset. I thanked her again for the dinner and wonderful time. Exchanging business cards (I jotted down the name of a J.F.K. biography I recommended), we promised to keep in touch.
I made it home safely, rolling into the garage with visions of frolicking on the Australian coast, eating great food, taking in the scenery. I should look up airfares to Melbourne, see how much damage a trip to Oz could do.
Ah look. Seems like there's an Oceanic flight available for a round trip. Flight number 815...
*For those of you in town:
755 North La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: (310) 659-3535