Monday, September 15, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

I went to a magical place on Saturday.

I'd be tempted to sing a Disney walk-in-the-woods song of some sort, but it was on beyond Disney, magic-wise.

A couple of months ago, I started catching glimpses of a wondrous new restaurant, Beatrice & Woodsley, in various local mags and rags. The compelling part of most of the reviews went something like this:

"Wow. You've never seen anything like it! You have to see this place! There's no other restaurant in the universe that even comes close! Words can't describe!"

And I shouted at the cold, unblinking Internet reviews, "TRY!"

So about a month ago, I was sitting at the Coral Roomwith Bag Lady Katharyn and Her Friend Sue, and Her Friend Sue started talking about this wonderful place and something she said made me sit up and say, "Is this Beatrice & Woodsley?"

"Yes! Have you been?"

"No, but I've read all these reviews and I'm dying to see what it looks like!"

"We should go to brunch this weekend!"

"Yes! Yes we should!"

But Bag Lady Katharyn is oddly resistant to the potential charms of Beatrice & Woodsley, and since it isn't my friend Sue, but Her Friend Sue, we didn't go.

A couple of weeks ago, Tani said we should get together before her baby comes, so I jumped at the chance.

"Have you been to Beatrice & Woodsley? Have you heard of Beatrice & Woodsley? Can we go to Beatrice & Woodsley? They have high tea at Beatrice & Woodsley... we should go to Beatrice & Woodsley for tea! Here, have a weblink!"

Tani loves me and is always happy to save me from myself, so we went.

And it's lovely. Unusual and lovely.

The windows are tinted yellow to give that warm, slanted autumn light to the restaurant.§ Aspen trunks grouped in twos and threes punctuate rustic elements of raw wood, kerosene lanterns and antique pot-bellied stoves in the front parlourwhere we sat.

There's a long, cosy dining area that parallels the bar and features horseshoe booths separated by muslin panels.

The bar has chinked wood strips behind it, and chainsaws are embedded in logs to create supports for the shelves that hold the liquor bottles.

Despite all this Little House on the Prairie imagery, it doesn't feel rustic in the slightest. I don't know how they did it, but I want to buy their decorator a drink. It's chic and modern and warm and I just loved it.

The food was good too... amazing, even. We shared a Double Windsor and a mushroom pasty.# We both agree we want to go back and that it's a place to take someone who's seen it all.

"I'd bring Tina here," said Tani, which is the ultimate in destination compliments.

Tani's friend Tina has cut my six degrees to most of the celebrity world by several degrees. She was Avril Lavigne's personal assistant and has done the PA thing for other celebrities. She lives in Sidney, and trots the globe and goes to all the best places.

Tani would bring Tina to Beatrice & Woodsley because it would impress her.

When we were done, Tani had to go to the bathroom.

"I'm going with you. I don't even have to pee, but I have to see what the bathroom looks like."

View from the toilet

The cove where the bathroom doors are is completely panelled in pieced rough wood. The doors don't look like doors... there's just a giant doorknob,†† and when you pull it, a portion of the wall opens.

The bathroom is a largely unadorned room. Toilet paper hangs from the ceiling and the walls are tiled in a grey-white brick pattern. All the light is provided by the golden glow of several transluscent bricks in the wall. There's no sink, no mirror, just a toilet and a half-log up against the wall that serves as a stool.

The sinks are in the entryway to the bathrooms, two zinc tubs flanked by pulleys and overhung by bead chains. When you pull the left pulley, the sound of gurgling and flowing water rings above your head, and after a moment, the water runs down the chains.

Once you've washed your hands, a tug on the left pulley closes the tap. The whole time you wash your hands, you're looking through tree branches over glass into the restaurant.

We were *so* glad we went to the bathroom.

OK, these fucking push ups *hurt*.‡‡

Right, right, in a good way.

And I may be kidding myself, but yesterday I could've sworn I saw some shoulders in the mirror.


Midnight Tryst - Neil Morris (Vault - edp)

Marin says: Eeep! The first whiff was strong and wrong. Not bad-bad, just not anything I really like in a perfume. It reminds me of Tabu, which was the perfume of choice of a woman I babysat for and it always hit me hard when I walked into her house.§§

I can't pick out a lot of notes. It's very like the wild aldehyde days of the 40's and 50's and I personally don't care for the chemical vanillas and medicinal roses that manifest in Chanel No. 5, Joy, Tabu and, say, Midnight Tryst.

We gave it a few minutes and, basically, it smells the same, just mellower. Some vanilla came up from the depths and is keeping some of the sharper scents round.

Strangely, what I get from typing distance is cat pee. That's unpleasant.

Neil Morris says: An intoxicating and sexy scent with Top Notes of Cinnamon and Clove, Heart Notes: French Narcissus, Gardenia, Magnolia and Rose$ and Base Notes: Amber, Patchouli, Benzoin,¶¶ Dark Vanilla,$ Musk, Castoreum$ and Civet.$

Hans says: Old fashioned.

[upon letting it sit]

Yeah... it's mellowed, but it's still an aldehyde.##

FOOTNOTE (crossed): I bet you're shocked I was at the Coral Room.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): I like Sue, and I'd bet Sue might even be game to go to Beatrice & Woodsley with me without Katharyn, but I don't know her phone number. Or her last name.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): My living room is painted Antique Gold (I was going to link you to the Sherwin Williams colour, but it doesn't appear to exist) for this very effect.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): That's what I'm calling it, anyway.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Which I pronounced "pay-stee" even though it's "past-ee" and it was spectacular by any name. Mushrooms and roasted onions on one end merging with figs and blue cheese on the other. The wonderful waiter suggested we eat from the savoury end to the sweet end for a complete flavour journey.

I just drooled a little.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Bigger than a softball. Maybe not quite as big as a bowling ball, but pushing it.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Not helped by a tricky elbow from knitting and mousing. whinewhinewhine

§§FOOTNOTE (strangling vortices of Tabu): I was horrified when she gave me a Christmas present the first year I worked for them and it turned out to be a Tabu gift set, complete with lotion and fragrant powder. Which, of course, I had to wear occasionally so she could smell my gratitude.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (two heads better than one): Maybe one of my perfumista buddies can help me out here: when I don't know what a note is, I Google it. I usually end up on Wikipedia. Wiki says benzoin has a light camphor odour, so I always think "benzoin" when I smell camphor in a perfume. But I've recently been hipped to Nathan Branch, and he constantly refers to benzoin as a sweet resin. Sweet or camphor? Resin or medicine? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

##FOOTNOTE (pounding the lingo right into Hans): Isn't it cute how far he's come?

$FOOTNOTE (on the money): Ha! Got one! Well, if you credit "cat pee" to one of the animal anal secretions, which I do.

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