My meal was served on a 1986 edition of the 01 phone directory
Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Sorcha's was served on a VHS copy of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Me and Sorcha are out celebrating, I don’t know, something or other? It’s, like, an anniversary of some sort – definitely not our wedding anniversary because I forgot that back in June. It’s the anniversary of the first time I ever smiled at her, or the first time I ever bought her a drink, or the first time we ever kissed. Sorcha has them all in her head. I generally just take her word for it and go along with whatever she has planned.
So we’re in a restaurant on, like, Fumbally Street that’s so cool it doesn’t even have a name. There’s literally fock-all written over the door and everyone just refers to it as “oh my God – the new place?”
The tables are basically old school desks, repurposed – and by “repurposed” I mean removed from a skip and wiped down with a biodegradable, citric wet wipe – and all of the chairs are mismatched.
Yeah, no, you get the general idea.
I’m having the Infidel – which is basically pulled pork on a toasted Acme roll with a gorlicky, lemony mayo and a side of sausage-doughnuts, served on a 1986 edition of the 01 telephone directory. Sorcha is having the panko fried chicken skewers, locally sourced, with a maple mayo dip and a side of kale fries, served on a VHS copy of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
“Oh my God,” Sorcha goes, “I have to say, the word of mouth was so not wrong about this place!”
I’m drinking juice made from 37 varieties of pear and served in a Batchelors Baked Beans tin
But I’m like, “Meh!” because I’m way more sober than I need to be to enjoy it.
She goes, “I can’t believe you’re still sulking just because they don’t serve Heineken.”
They don’t serve alcohol at all. I’m drinking juice made from 37 varieties of pear – all of them grown sustainably in Wicklow – and served in a Batchelors Baked Beans tin.
She goes, “I just – oh my God – love the literary theme!”
I’m like, “What literary theme?” and I genuinely mean it?
“I’m talking about all the shelves of books over there, Ross. They’re all, like, previously loved. You can bring one and take one.”
I’m there, “People and their books. Ridiculous. Okay, I need a slash,” because the pear juice is running straight through me.
So I tip down the stairs to the jacks. And that’s kind of when the trouble storts? There’s, like, two doors in front of me. On one, it says, “George Eliot”, and on the other, it’s like, “Chorles Dickens”.
And – yeah, no – there’s literally no further information.
So I end up standing there for a good five minutes, wondering – probably like the rest of you – which of these is supposed to be the men’s jacks and which of them is supposedly the women’s?
Of course, in the end, I have no choice other than to just take a punt – like I said, my tonsils are floating – so I push the door morked “George Eliot” and in I walk.
My error becomes apparent pretty much straight away when I cop the general cleanliness of the place. One of the thousands of things I love about women is that they don’t feel the need to urinate on the floor just because they’re in a toilet that someone else is going to be cleaning. You could eat your dinner off those floor tiles – and, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how the dessert is served.
I’m chuckling at this line, thinking what a pity it is that no one else is here to enjoy it, when all of a sudden the door of Trap Two opens. A woman walks out, cops the Rossmeister General standing there and let’s out what would have to be described as a piercing scream.
That’s him! In the blue rugby jersey and the chinos! He was in the women’s toilets!
Now, back in the day, much was written – especially in these pages – about my turn of speed from a standing stort. And the poor woman ends up being a witness to the fact that I’ve still got it – certainly in terms of pace. I turn on my heel and I’m out of there and up the stairs like I’m running from gainful employment.
I rush over to the table and I go, “Come on, Sorcha, let’s hit the road!”
But she’s like, “We haven’t had dessert yet! Oh my God, I’m dying to try their scrambled egg crème brûlée with a bacon-flavoured, caramelised sugar top!”
Suddenly, I hear a voice behind me go, “That’s him! In the blue rugby jersey and the chinos! He was in the women’s toilets!”
Every conversation in the place suddenly stops. People are suddenly looking up from their Sika deer sliders and their kimchi tacos and their foraged raspberry fools to find out, basically, what the fock?
Yeah, no, Sorcha is kind of curious herself. She goes, “Ross, what’s she talking about?”
And I’m like, “I didn’t know it was the women’s toilet. It said George Eliot on the door.”
“Er, George Eliot was a woman, Ross.”
“I didn’t know that. I’d never heard of him – slash her.”
“Oh my God,” a girl at another table goes, “are you saying you’ve never read Middlemorch?”
I’m there, “I’ve never read anything! Is that, like, a book he wrote?”
“She wrote. And it’s only the greatest novel ever written in the English language.”
Okay, that’s it. Call the Guards. How could anyone not have heard of Charles Dickens?
“Well, I’m going to have to take your word for that. Sorry, can I make a point here? There are signs for women’s and men’s toilets that are known all over the focking world. Why do we have to always complicate things?”
The manager decides to get involved then. “There’s nothing complicated about it,” he goes, suddenly on the big-time defensive. “How could you not know that Charles Dickens was a man?”
I’m there, “Because I’ve never heard of him either.”
The woman goes, “Okay, that’s it. Call the Guards. How could anyone not have heard of Charles Dickens?”
Sorcha’s like, “Look, I know it’s not an excuse, but my husband was on the senior rugby team in school.”
You’d want to see the looks of sympathy I’m suddenly getting.
She goes, “Look, we had a similar incident in a restaurant in Ranelagh last year when he walked into ‘Billie Holiday’ instead of ‘Dizzy Gillespie’.”
I’m there, “And I’m supposedly the weirdo? Seriously, I don’t know what the fock is happening to the world. Come on, Sorcha, let’s get out of here.”