We eat out a lot. We are spoiled. We know it and feel privileged. Not every meal out is a good meal. Nor is every trip worth remembering either. At this very moment, back from a trip to Cancun, Mexico, I’m chewing on a lump of overcooked and undersized beef (I presume it is beef, it tastes like leather.) Ten thousand feet up in the sky. Good thing I’m not writing a piece on the United Airlines catering, or they would see their TripAdvisor ratings take a dive. ‘This isn’t food’, I muttered.”But my upbringing urged me on; ‘Don’t waste what’s on your plate’ the little voice in my head berated me, so I swallowed the meat, but the grey-greenish smudges that represented brocoli and mashed euh something I really couldn’t stomach. Sad trip, negative energy. “Quick, think of something nice”, I commanded myself, a good trip, good food, good company, what, where…”Aah yes, I know”, I sighed with relief, when the images of another trip, to the House of Eliott, shot to mind.What a great name for a restaurant. I remembered that evening in Ghent, a surprise diner for Vera, something I wanted to give to her for her birthday, but that was another month away, and I couldn’t wait to see if the accolades Eliott’s House received on TripAdvisor were justified.
The answer? Simply “Wow”! It all starts at the door; you step right in to some kind of Ali Baba’s wonderland! A child’s fairytale dream, a house bizarre, with dolls and clocks and Pearl thingies and kitschy lamps and real or fake antique stuff, umbrellas and tin boxes and statuettes and paintings all sizes and styles massed together into a wonderful and cosy chaos among which tables seemed to be hopscotch placed and guests all but disappear as they become part of the decoration. The owners are two relaxed gents who amused and bemused us with their gay chatter and their tenure of happy Bambi’s darting through their universe. These guys is what this place is all about. This is their play ground, this is their oxygen, this is their ocean, here they swim.
and I was thinking; “yes, amazing, amusing, fantastic… and all very fine but… can they cook?”
And again, the answer came with a bang; “Damn yes, these dudes know what they’re doing!”
Lobster! That what people come here to eat for. Eliott’s lobsters. They prepare them in a variety of ways, from very classic to very creative. What’s more, whichever way you order them, you’ll get served one, two or three half lobsters with a lot of attention paid to detail and with several delicious surprises.
And all the way, they make you chill out and they let you bathe in an invisible ephemeral ether floating over a non intruding background of soft Dixie jazz.
A trip to the house of Eliott is like travelling with Alice for a while, to join her at the mad hatters table for tea and cookies, but Eliott does it with Lobsters.
I don’t have an Alice with me. I have a Vera. And no trip is complete without her around.
And I look at her and inside me I know again that all I’ll ever want is to be with her and to know that she wants that too.
I eat out a lot, and I have been a spoiled kid all my life. But here at Eliott’s table, I see what is really important in life, and lobsters are not included.
I smile and touch her hand, and see her big blue eyes smile right back at me.
And while the Eliott couple serve us coffee, all I want to tell her is that I know that ‘We’ll get there, baby.’