Off the Record

Photo By David Robert

It is a clean, well-lighted place. There are skylights, hardwood floors, wine in the rack and books on the bookshelves—all the stuff that is most conducive to the satisfaction of any Hemingway-loving student’s appetite.

I went for dinner with friends on a Thursday night and stuck around for the live music of Citizen Square, a three-man band that is worthy of its own review. The band started playing in the background while we waited for our menus, but not loud enough to squash a conversation. This made the awkward silence that smothered our table like a malevolent fog all the more oppressive.

Fog aside, I would like to think we were enjoying one another’s company as we read over our menus, but the girls would jump ship shortly after our meal, leaving my friend Jason and me, the Argonaut,. The girls went off to go watch Friends, which seemed beside the point, since the Record Street Café bears a resemblance to Friends’ Central Perk. The sandwich department in particular cut through the fog like a beam from a lighthouse. The restaurant has plenty of coffee alternatives to choose from, as well as a variety of beer and wine.

I had the Muffaletta, a salami, pepperoni and Black Forest ham sandwich with provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato serve on focaccia with tepenade. Tepenade is a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, pimientos, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, capers, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s also known as olive salad, a fact I learned from The Food Lover’s Companion. It’s the olive salad that sets the muffaletta apart from any other sandwich of its ilk. The Food Lover’s Companion also informed me that the hero-style sandwich is a specialty of New Orleans.

The girls failed to make the hero connection I wanted them to make between me and my sandwich, but they liked their sandwiches just fine. Raelynn had the southwestern turkey sandwich, a sliced turkey breast construction topped with tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, caramelized red onions, pepper jack cheese and roasted red pepper ranch sauce. Kelly had the Greek-Italian, a bruschetta job with feta, artichokes, olives, provolone and pepperocini. I assume both sandwiches must have been delicious because they paid more attention to them than us. Then they left our sorry asses. Friends, indeed.

So our little makeshift Central Perk was suddenly destroyed and the fog began to close in again and I sensed an ominous rocky shore looming in the not so far off distance. This required quick thinking. There were plenty of other sirens for Jason and me to make friends with. All we had to do was pretend to be two wild and crazy guys hanging out somewhere around the French Quarter, just off Bourbon Street, instead of just off the UNR campus on Record Street. The muffaletta began to work its strange magic on my mind. I know this because this plan of mine seemed logical.

Thank God for an angel who comes in the form of my editor, Carli Cutchin. I don’t know that writers usually characterize their higher-ups that way, but that’s what she looked like to me. And she had a friend. The night was saved.