Eia and I have this ritualistic routine of going to the exact same Indian food place together when we need to talk, catch up, vent, or just generally practice the art of best-friendness. It's a place near our old house, it's absolutely delicious, and - given the nature of these outings, we tend to not like change.
Unfortunately, there was a Groupon a little while back (confession: I'm an avid Groupon-er) for an Indian food place about ten blocks away with a name so stupidly similar to our place that I have to wonder how restaurant owners aren't a tad bit more creative. So, without thinking twice, I bought it, only to be extremely disappointed later when I discovered my mistake.
Then I was faced with a decision. Use it? Give it away? Try to get my money back? The very fact that I was considering these options only drove home the very specialness of our particular Indian place. It's a restaurant, I told myself. You can try a new restaurant once, I told myself.
So, here we found ourselves on a Wednesday afternoon, craving Indian food and more so the comforts of our best-friend restaurant, with naught but the $22 to spend at the impostor location. Our minds were telling us to suck it up and give it a try; our hearts were telling us no. Finally, with the Groupon print-out tucked purposefully inside my purse, we headed to the faux-location. Because hey. It's almost summer. We're big girls. We could try branching out.
Here's what I learned yesterday, blog readers. Sometimes, it's better to never branch out.
For the two of us, our Indian food place isn't necessary about the food. It's not about the location. It's about the hundreds of conversations we've had about boys, about parents, about moving, about the future - all safely within the walls of that same restaurant. It's about the chai tea drinking battles we had due to an overexcited waitstaff that refills your cup before you've even managed to get halfway to the bottom. It's about the fact that we don't take any of our other friends there with us, keeping it a place shared only between two friends, where we can talk about anything we want and knowing what we say will never leave that restaurant.
Suffice it to say, this new place was average at best, and held none of that same meaning. The food was okay, they never refilled our cups a once, and while they did bring us a complimentary dessert (much like our place that tends to bring us something exorbitant like cheesecake, just to be nice) this place brought us a rice pudding that was best described with less than pleasant onomatopoeias.
Not to mention the chai was gross and the chicken in my Chicken Korma was questionable, and that the lady waiting our table looked very hurt and disappointed that I hardly touched either. She was so visibly upset that I actually felt I had to pretend I liked the rice pudding. I don't want to pretend I like food when I am paying for it! That's a trick I save entirely for when people I care about try new recipes that might not have gone quite right... not random strangers!
It's not like we're spoiled, that we require free refills and extravagant cheesecake. It's not like this new place was bad. It just wasn't our place, and we felt that all around us as we sat there. The menus were different, the food options weren't the same, and honestly (though maybe this was all in my mind) our conversations weren't even to the same caliber as we're used to when we really go out for Indian food.
The moral of the story today is: Read your Groupon offers before you buy them.
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