Take the Sandwich and Run


I was all dressed up this Saturday night with no place to eat. Why? I’m blaming Woody.

So my husband and I were fortunate enough to attend the opening of the L.A. Opera. The three Puccini one acts required commitment: The show started at 6 p.m., and didn’t wrap til near 10. William Friedkin, of The Exorcist and French Connection fame, directed the first two with theatrical flair; Woody Allen, the farcical third. Sets were massive and dazzling; the singers extraordinary, especially the ostracized nun played by Sondra Radvanovsky who brought down the convent in Suor Angelica. But by the end of the night, despite slight snacking and a tad of imbibing, we were hungry (even my seatmate Yvonne Burke’s bling was looking tasty—diamonds are this supervisor’s best friend). So the uproarious finale is upon us, the audience breaks into rapturous applause, and the cast of Gianni Schicchi takes their bows. And then takes their bows again. By now everyone is standing, because everyone wants to see Woody Allen shuffle out of the wings for the curtain call (Friedkin did for both of his). No Allen. So the cast, one by one, oy vey, bows again. No Woody. Hands chap, arms exhaust, the audience keeps hope alive. Again, no Woody. More bows. More exhaustion. More disappointment. Finally the curtain drops. Woody Allen’s given the audience the shaft and it’s cost us 15 minutes that would prove near fatal in our search for a post-show dinner this evening.

We rush out, race to the car, and begin the hunt for food. There’s no place to park around Pete’s, no signs spelling O-P-E-N down Main or Broadway or Olive or Grand. We mad dash it to the freeway and settle on Canéle in Atwater Village. This is a Saturday night, after all, in a major American metropolis. The place looks bustling from the sidewalk. We walk in at 10:35 p.m. Sorry, the hostess tells us, the kitchen closed at 10:30. A cook looks over his shoulder from the frying pan at the sad little couple in the opera clothes. Have you no mercy?

Then it’s back in the car and to Palate: sorry, closed ages ago. Next time, maybe?

Then it’s back in the car to Carousel on Brand: sorry, we are told over the headache-inducing din of belly dancing music, the kitchen closed at 10:45. It’s 10:47.

OK, the Glendale Zankou, maybe? Back in the car, down Brand, quick left on Colorado. Closed at 11. The mops are out. It’s 11:01.

Freakin’ Woody Allen.

We drive down Colorado Boulevard to the Oinkster, its O-P-E-N sign cruelly lit despite the fact that somebody’s counting the register money. It’s 11:05. Ah, Casa Bianca! They’re open til 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Eggplant pizza, you will be our savior! Nope, not this night. The Martoranos are on vacation.

Want to go home and make some rice spaghetti? my husband asks. No, for the love of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, we’re going out to eat!

So that’s how we ended up in the land of strappy heels and Ed Hardy muscle shirts, two geezers in opera clothes among the masses at the Cheesecake Factory. You know what, culinary superstars? It was damn good. Sweet corn cakes, fire-roasted artichokes and firecracker salmon rolls, a nice glass of Chianti. We got window seats on Colorado Boulevard and a space right in front.

We’re thinking of turning the whole tragic ordeal into an opera. Directed by Woody Allen.