This past Saturday was my husband’s birthday. To me honest, we really don’t make a big deal about the day because that is his preference. For a number of years, we happened to be in France on his birthday and …well, we were too busy just being in France to take time out for a birthday celebration. In addition, he just doesn’t care about his birthday so we downplay it.
Truth be told, I kind of don’t like a big production for my birthday either. So I get where he’s coming from!
But this year, I decided to take him out for a birthday dinner. Since our last four weekends were rather busy ones—what, with being away in NYC twice, a wedding and a beach weekend, I hadn’t had time to plan just where I would take him for dinner.
Quite a few cityscapes lately!
Spring Mill Café was closed due to hosting a wedding so his absolutely favorite restaurant was out of bounds for this special evening!
A wedding halted plans to take Bonaparte here but it wasn’t too bad to change up the gameplan!
Instead, I opted for making dinner reservations at a local restaurant. Paloma’s in Phoenixville. It’s a lovely place and the co-owner just happens to be a Frenchman. It seemed befitting. And so, I headed to Open Table to make online reservations.
All I can say is–no. I’ll make reservations by phone from now on thank you!
Saturday morning, I presented Bonaparte with a gift and a card. Nicely wrapped, I was pretty excited about my choice to him. It was a reprint of a photo on canvas. During his father’s funeral weekend, the family got together for lunch and a photo was taken. It’s really a great photo and I thought that given the occasion and the fact he hadn’t seen his family in a while, it would make a nice and thoughtful gift.
Here we are in St. Tropez 2018. Now on canvas and enlarged.
My hunch was correct because he really did seem to be touched by the thought and he’s carefully thinking of where in our home to hang it.
And then there was the dinner.
Truth be told, I’m rather wary of making dinner reservations online. Very wary. I prefer phone. I need to speak to a person in order to calm my anxieties. And since I didn’t receive any email or text confirmation from the Open Table site, I was getting nervous.
So, I called the restaurant. And there was no reservation in my name. Almost in a panic, I explained that I did make a reservation on Open Table but never received a confirmation. Then I asked if there was any way I could make a reservation because it was my husband’s birthday and I really wanted to take him to Paloma’s. And while I was on the phone speaking, I was multi-tasking because every nasty word that I’ve ever used during my lifetime was running through my head and directed at Open Table.
Me. Explaining my big issue with Open Table. I’m certain I got the reservation, not out of desperation, but because they didn’t want to listen to my long-winded explanation!
Luckily, I was able to get a reservation for 7:45 so things looked good.
The remainder of the day was spent in well-needed relaxation. Late in the afternoon a delivery was dropped off –it wasn’t a gift for my Frenchman but rather some goodies from Momofuku. Spices and stuff! I had to scold Chippy because he seemed to think the goodies were for him.
Apparently Chippy thought it was HIS birthday!
Anyway, when the time came, we drove into Phoenixville, got lucky with parking and walked over to the restaurant. Downtown Phoenixville is great. Bridge Street was closed off so that the locals and visitors could enjoy hopping from place to place without the added annoyance of traffic. It’s a bit sad that a number of business closed due to the pandemic, but it was great to see a good amount of people enjoying the weekend by being out and about. The restaurant is at the tip of Bridge Street just as you enter the downtown area. It’s really a lovely place.
I’m a fan of Downtown Phoenixville–and in the summer, it’s a hoppin’!
So, we arrive at the restaurant and I’m all happy because I’m taking my man out for a great dinner. We get to the front desk and I give the hostess and host (who were incredibly cute and friendly) my name and then it happened.
The entrance to Paloma’s is so grand!! It’s really a beautiful restaurant!
They wished my husband a happy birthday. And they wished it very enthusiastically and cheerfully.
I would have joined in except I saw the expression on my husband’s face which kept me at bay–just like a junkyard dog!
And then I saw my husband’s face. It was not the face of a pleasant man. Oh no it was not! It wasn’t even the face of a man who was content. His face had no expression at first—and then his mouth turned down into a scowl. To be honest, he looked like a typical Parisien who got to the boulangerie and found out there was no bread left.
Yeah. There’s a reason I call my Frenchman “Bonaparte”. Only my Bonaparte is taller. This could have been his reaction upon being wished a joyful happy birthday!
And I had to put on my smiley face and say to the very friendly hostess and host “Oh. He’s shy. He doesn’t want to be reminded of birthdays.” And as they both turned to see if the table was ready, I had to explain to my husband that after the screw up with Open Table, I felt the need to mention his birthday so we could get a reservation.
I had to give him the “really” face and shrug!
He remained stone-faced. It was at that very moment my expectations reached a new low for the evening.
We were seated by a table that gave us a great view of Bridge Street so we could observe the goings-on. On the table was a little sign from the staff that read: “Wishing the Happiest of Celebrations to You”, which I prayed he didn’t notice. If he did, he said nothing.
Look at this nice little greeting that awaited us at the table. I had to HIDE it! Who hides something nice like that????
Our server was great but I felt bad because when we ordered Kir’s, she returned and told us the bartender didn’t make them. My low expectations were now swallowed by emotional quick-sand. I could feel the rage emanating from my husband’s body, through his shirt and onto my shoulders. But as low as my expectations were, my sense of failure was at an all-time high!
Trust me, if my expectations were any lower, I would have to look up to look under! But I can be happy while doing so!
Instead, we ordered bona-fide cocktails. We both went with Fear and Loathing in Phoenixville, a refreshing blend of Bourbon, Pineapple Juice, Lemon and Absinthe. I tend to think my husband picked that drink because that was how he felt at the time. But it was really, really good—and although I’m not much of a hard liquor woman, Bourbon is my jam.
Here’s the “Aha” moment when things started to look up! Yum Yum!!
It was time to pick an appetizer so we went with the charcuterie board. Now..this is where the dinner was starting to pick up. The charcuterie arrived chock full of saucissons and prosciutto and pickled vegetables and little toasts.
This is the Paloma Fromage and Charcuterie board. We had it minus the cheese..
…but by the time I went to take a photo, we ate just about everything! I thought it befitting to leave a toast, a slice of carrot and a bit of Proscuitto. I gobbled it ip as soon as I snapped this.
Not caring for those little toasts, the Frenchman ordered bread. And the dinner miraculously began to get better. The bread was fantastic. Bonaparte actually smiled. It was warm and steamy and the outside was crusty and the inside soft. I almost fell off my chair when he started to praise the bread! It’s true what they say about the French and their bread!
This was what remained of the bread. He took it home. Oh yes. He did!
Okay. I need to backtrack just a tiny bit. The wine. A certain person who was not me did not seem too pleased at the selection of wine. He’s used to drinking French wine. He ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon from California which, by the way, he liked. I’m not as fussy. As long as it smells like dirt and puts me to sleep, I’m fine.
We went with the Cabernet Sauvignon from California. I knew my husband liked it when he offered me a glass knowing full-well it would put me to sleep!
Despite not having Kir’s or French wine, the fare so far was great. He was raving about the charcuterie and literally just about kneeling in adoration before the bread. And…he liked the California wine! I was thrilled.
Our main plates were ordered and with Bonaparte’s love for Steak Frites, thankfully on the menu, that’s what he ordered—the only glitch was that only filet mignon was available so he went for it and devoured it.
The perfectly cooked Filet Mignon and Frites. If you read last week’s post you’ll know that he mistook the Menu’s Skate Frites for Steak Frites. This time it WAS steak!
I ordered the Short Rib Crepes because………I had never had short ribs before. Ever. My family and friends are astounded by this little fact about me—especially with all the cooking that I do but—I’ve just never had them. And they were remarkable. The meat was incredibly tender and robust in flavor. Filled with mushrooms and carrots and caramelized onion, slathered in a red wine sauce—wow—this was just what I needed!
These. Were. Amazing! Short Rib Crepes! The sauce though. I wish it was bottled so I could take it home!
And might I add that my husband was on the same page with his dinner. He said the filet mignon was cooked perfectly and the frites were excellent.
Not only was he smiling, but he said he hopes the restaurant does well because the food and service were great. His only criticism was he likes a quieter atmosphere.
Hold on. The restaurant was pretty quiet when we left–we just about closed the place!
There’s a very comfortable and warm vibe here.
And also very welcoming. If you look to the far left, you’ll see the little market that sells pastries and goodies. It’s really a very charming restaurant!
Wait. There’s more. Dessert. I’m sorry-no-sorry to admit that I could have eaten three of the dessert I ordered. Chocolate Cremeux. It was a chocolate mousse/pudding with a caramel foam and two pieces of white chocolate pretzel brittle. This was my kind of dessert and it better be a regular offering on the menu because next time we have dinner there, I want this.
This dessert. It was actually better than the Chocolate Pot de Creme that I had at Frenchie in Paris. Hands down. One of the best desserts ever. And I mean that!
And that was it. What started out as a dinner I thought would be disastrous ended up to be a great evening! In fact, we’ll definitely be back. The service was far and beyond decent. Paloma has a great staff—from hosts to servers to bartender to chef. It really was a positive experience and was even better to have a restaurant like this in our own backyard!
That was our local dinner..
And he was still smiling when we arrived home! It was a great birthday!
Have you ever experienced a dinner or special occasion that started off to be not-too-promising but ended up to be great? Do tell!
I can understand your Frenchman. I don’t celebrate my birthday but my parents do send me a happy birthday text every year. It’s just before Christmas, so people are too worried about getting their Christmas plans ready to make a big deal of my birthday anyway.
Hi Ang. Ahhh you are a Christmas Baby (almost). I shared a birthday with my brother (13 years apart) and a sister who’s birthday is three days later so it was never a day of my own. I’m not a huge birthday person either! XOXOXO
Joyeux Anniversaire! I’m so pleased the evening turned out well in the end. I’m surprised about the Kir’s – even I can make a kir! 🤣 You can add me to the list of people who don’t like a big fuss for their birthday but a little fuss will do nicely!! Take care OXOX
Hi June. Right? I was a bit shocked at the fact Kirs were not served. That was just weird. But yeah. the evening ended up to be fine! LOL. I know some people are now into a birthday week!!! I like a little bit of fuss like you and then to move on! XOXOXO
This is a great post Catherine, I love that the evening ended well,. Getting a French person to smile is not easy. Bonaparte did look very happy in the end. No Kirs – that can’t be and in a French restaurant! No excuses. I don’t make a big deal about my birthday. But I like it when others do. This recent one was well received by me and made wonderful by others.
Happy birthday Bonaparte! My husband’s birthday is tomorrow and we won’t celebrate. It’s his way. Now I on the other hand expect a month of celebration. 😂
Sounds like a great dinner. I’m like the Frenchman: I don’t like attention from the restaurant staff on my birthday. That would have made me grumpy too!