Well, not actually. No reviews of Michelin *** restaurants today. It's been a while since La Tour d'Argent, Lasserre, Lameloise, Paul Bocuse and Les Freres Troisgrois. This is more local and more recent, but the similarities are worth the metaphor.
The establishment is convenient. It's new and modern, fully staffed with professionals and carrying a line-up of the latest to provide full service. It makes one truly appreciate the remarkable system we've built in America to insure that our hungers are satisfied quickly. There's no waiting for a table and there's no difficulty getting a reservation as there might be in other countries with a less effective and less free-enterprise system.
The clientele is diverse. Older and younger, male and female, well-to-do and obviously lower economic class all arrive at the reservation time and are promptly seated for their experience.
Service is custom. Your particular needs tailor your diet and the executive chef continually evaluates how your situation changes. He's not called the executive chef though, he's your oncologist. He's armed with a battery of scans and diagnostics with alphabetical acronyms that describe the various technologies. He knows where your hunger pangs originate and what might be causing that. He is the ultimate in molecular gastronomy and puts El Bulli to shame. He prescribes the menu.
On arrival you might be greeted with a formal ritual, a quick blood letting to determine the balance of your various chemicals, but with that formality aside you are escorted down the hall to the "dining room" where your particular experience awaits.
The decor is eclectic, possibly drawn from the reclining dining postures of the Romans or Arabs. Individual booths align the walls of the room with a recliner, a small visitor chair, a wall-mounted flat screen TV and a modernistic tree-like sculpture with four branches next to the recliner.
Everyone is welcomed with a bit of liquid refreshment, a quart of saline solution to keep you refreshed. The line is plugged into your sub-cutaneous central port so there's no need to find a spot for a fresh IV each visit. The clear plastic bag hangs from the first branch of the tree. As you look to the right and left from your booth you see the trees of the other diners progressing through their repast. The trees are festooned with bags of various sizes and in varying degrees of fullness.
Next comes the amuse bouche, a little taste of what is to come provided to all participants. It's a six-ounce serving of an anti-nausea preparation. The reason for the various connections on the clear tubing attached to your port are now becoming apparent. The second bag hits the tree branch.
Nearby the sous-chef, AKA pharmacist, is blending the components of your particular meal. The essentials are added to more saline prep and the clear bags labeled for your table. The meal commences.
On my menu we start with Taxotere. It will take an hour or so to drip into my veins. Bag three on the tree.
Second course comes shortly thereafter. Dining at this establishment isn't quick. The wait staff, Donna and Sandy are prompt, courteous, friendly and very efficient. This one is called Fluorouracil or more commonly 5-FU. I ponder for a moment that magnitude of getting five FUs all in an expletive bundle, but dismiss it as a coincidence.
We start with a syringe full as a special jolt. Wait for about a half-hour to see if anything unusual occurs, then meet the infusion pump. It's a plastic unit about the size of a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The top half has an LED display of dose, remaining supply and condition of operation. The bottom half is a clear reservoir with yet another bag of liquid from the sous-chef. Complete the decor with a zippered fanny pack to carry the gadget around my waist. Plug into the central port tubing and I'm clear to enjoy a two day intermezzo.
The pump is beginning to send plaintive little beeps indicating it is almost empty as I return two days later to the fine dining establishment. The meal resumes. The pump is disconnected and the welcoming saline drip and anti-nausea bag are delivered. When the small bag is empty, I get the third course. This one is called Cisplatin. It takes about two hours to infuse and then without a proper desert or apres-meal brandy, I'm sent on my way with a reminder to keep taking my anti-nausea pills as the true effect of the repast may not be realized for several more days.
Once you've begun to dine at this establishment they set up a regular reservation for you every two weeks for a similar meal.