mm, tastes like privilege.
Growing up in the suburbs of Montclair, there was always one street that carried an affluent prestige to its environment. That street was, and still is, Church Street. Boasting a city-like street littered with mid-to-luxury cars and restaurants not made for Julius Rock from the show “Everybody Hates Chris,” Church Street was always a place that kids wouldn’t retreat to after school unless their parents hooked them up with allowance money or they just wanted to see an elegant setting they could not yet exploit.
Now I’m 23 years old and I exploit the heck out of this street. I can buy whatever I want because I have the money to do so, and I walk around with my hefty camera bothering all of the people that think they are too good to get flicks snapped of them. I am the kid they didn’t want growing up and realizing $30 is not too bad for a great meal on a Saturday night. Their uptown class of an Italian-American crossover doesn’t scare me. New York City has enough of that. OK, rant over.
With the aroma of prestige the street aggrandizes comes a great level of expectation from each and every restaurant and store that calls Church Street home.
Today, it was Raymond’s turn to prove that bravado to me. Mind you, it’s not easy doing so when New Jersey is trying to drop the hottest climate tape of the year and it’s 1 o’clock, but if your doors are open for business, then it’s time for me to eat!
Today, grapefruit juice, a salmon burger and scrumptious apple pie with chocolate ice cream were privileged to enter my sacred bowels. The grapefruit was pressed, yet it still maintained its bittersweet taste.
But remember, the world isn’t perfect and boy did it show today. As my front teeth unleashed a force of dominance on the salmon burger, there was no force to push them back. Instead of flavor, all I felt was bread. Dry Olive Garden bread, disguised as a Raymond’s burger bun. Naturally, the sriracha tartar sauce on the salmon would have to kick in to save the day (and the flavor), but there were no legs for it to kick. The sriracha was missing its violent, mouth watering, tear-causing flare. There was no indication of spice from the sauce, which was a letdown at its best.
You know the veggie slaw and the tomato had nothing to say about this. In this case, they are the kids that have to tell mom that big brother broke the vase while she wasn’t home. Scared and quiet but expected. The behavior from the sauce? Unexpected.
Oh, and the worst part? The server didn’t even check on us, so water was scarce. I had to have my meal with the bittersweet grapefruit. Marry grapefruit and dry bread together. What do you get? Divorce!
So, what could save this marriage if divorce was not the only option? Only the apple pie with chocolate ice cream. I didn’t apply the ice cream on the apple pie directly because I still wanted to keep it cold. The sun was beaming on my skin, releasing waves of sunrays summoned to burn me to a chocolate crisp, and I didn’t want the ice cream to suffer the same fate. Nonetheless, it was marvelous.
The apple pie connected on layers of greatness, starting with the soft, yet crumbly cinnamon crust, followed by the gushy apple layers that brought more tart than the actual tartar sauce from the burger. The chocolate ice cream only made it better, a combination that was exotic to me. Raymond’s, you’ve escaped this time, with a bead of sweat on your nervous faces. Next time we meet, you better flaunt that Church Street badge on your chest a little more.