Sometimes, romance is just not on the evening’s List of specials.
Ah yes, remember Valentine’s Day! What a disaster, that day that comes only once a year, when you are supposed to express your love to another person, while the other 364 you can act like a heartless bastard. From the time you wake up to the time you end up in bed again, you can feel the romance in the air. What better place to celebrate romance then among the elegant 18th century streets of Budapest, where luxury and exquisite taste from years gone by can still be seen? This fantastic world, combined with the chivalrous images we have in our heads of European men being Prince Charming… Well, where else could romance be more alive?
One February 7, I received the loveliest email from a friend of mine, asking me what I was doing on this annual day of compassion. When I told him nothing, he responded, “Well, now I am taking you out for a date you will never forget.” I was flabbergasted to see a post on my Facebook early in the morning of February the 14th. It was emanating the sensuality of the 1980’s Hollywood courting culture. He wrote, “For a day filled with love, I will make it all about you, so that all the love is yours.”
To be honest, it was a bit much, but as I am human, I take what I can get. Throughout the day, I received other little messages of affection from him.
Feeling like a diamond in the rough, I put on a sexy red and black dress that left just enough to the imagination. After all the messages, my expectations were high for this date. We had decided to meet on the corner of Blaha Lujza tér and Erzsébet körút. Not the classiest part of town but it is just moments away from some of the imperial hotels.
We met just as evening turned to night and started walking towards Oktogon. I had gotten my hopes up that I was eligible to enjoy the royalty of the New York Café. We walked right past the gargoyles, calling to me as we passed, beckoning with stone eyes of romance. I was trying to figure out where we were going, for it was not the warmest of evenings. Finally the lights and sounds of Oktogon were in view and he told me we are almost there. As we almost started into the roundabout, we stopped in front of a restaurant: TGI FRIDAYS.
As he was paying, I did not question his choice of restaurant. A free meal is a free meal in the end. After we were seated, he turned to me and said with a very heavy accent, “I had thought you were missing America, so here is some America for you to feel at home.” I had to bite my lip to stop from laughing, or emitting profanities at this absurd notion that an American wants American food. So I decided to go all out and order something special from the menu, a truly American experience full of burgers and fries galore. I decided on a classic, the Bacon Cheeseburger with a margarita, a very large margarita. As we waited for the food, the conversation was light and never went below the surface.
Before the food arrived at the table you could smell it as it glided to the table on the waiter’s tray. Then true love was delivered right in front of my face. A burger topped with crispy bacon, sizzling cheese and fresh vegetables, stacked on top of two buns that would give even the biggest mouths lock jaw. With every bite a wave of flavor washed over me pushing me further into a food coma of happiness. Each fry was crunchy on the outside and piping hot on the inside, with all the Heinz Ketchup you could dream of. Halfway through I was full, but it was just so good I had to keep on eating.
Once I had cleaned my plate, like a good American would, I had had all the love I could bear for one night. The date was not the worst; the food was by far the best part though. One thing to keep in mind on dates is that if the romance is dead, the love of food will make it worthwhile.
After all… it is always better to eat with someone then to eat alone.
FOUR LOCATIONS: WestEnd, 1062 Budapest, Váci út 1-3, Metro: Nyugati Pályaudvar • Oktogon, 1066 Budapest, Oktogon tér 3. Metro: Oktogon, • Mammut, 1024 Budapest, Lövőház utca 2-6, Metro: Moszkva Tér and T.G.I. Friday’s Deák Tér, Deák Ferenc utca, Metro: Deák Ferenc Tér, www.fridays.hu