The Gaja Promis, please.
A blend. She wasn't sure what to make of his choice. But then uncertainty was the order of this opaque and endlessly cold night. Why here? There was little privacy at this new, popular restaurant, yet there was urgency in his voice when he called to meet. She scanned the comfortable urban setting for a familiar face, and saw none save Pat Carden's behind the bar. He was positioned, as always, a discreet measure from the patrons, cleaning a glass. His wry smile, visible even from a distance, betrayed a priest's knowledge and a thief's discretion. She raised the menu to her shadowed eyes.
There is no better steak.
A perfectly attentive waiter poured the wine and left. Another waiter brought a grilled artichoke—split in half, exposing its frayed heart. He said something about Chandler's in Sun Valley, and how pleased he was that they decided to offer grilled artichoke here as well. He was always pleased, never happy.
I wish the artichoke came with simply olive oil and garlic. The aioli is too heavy.
Do you like the wine?
The wine was actually exceptional. She tried not to reveal her pleasure since it was his choice. She didn't want to reveal anything 'til she knew why she was there.
Chandler's in Ketchum is also great, but it's not a steakhouse.
Salads came out next. After some reluctance, she lingered indulgently over butter lettuce, bleu cheese and shallots. She did not have occasion to eat this well very often. She would have to endure his vacant satisfaction.
I prefer a simple salad before steak.
Yours does look quite good.
Why did you call?
Your life is in danger.
He had plenty more to say, but nothing to add. That was typical. Eventually, mercifully, the steaks came. She parsed the reddish brown striations along fascial lines, as a hint of blood conspired underneath. The steak's redolence triggered distant memories of the only stable time in her life.
What did you order for me?
They call it a cowboy steak. It's a ribeye. Bone in, as you can see.
I ... it's quite good.
It was far better than what she could admit.
They do the best job around.
He carried on with a definitive arrogance common to his chosen profession. Boise finally has a truly great steakhouse, he said. Better than the Pioneer in Sun Valley, he said. And so on.
Why did you call?
I told you, your life is in danger.
In danger of change, yes. Why here?
Let's look at their dessert menu.
The restaurant began to fill to capacity with important-looking middle-aged men dressed in black, accompanied by their inevitably more lively and attractive companions. He insisted on splitting a butterscotch creme brulee. He presumptively carved out large fractures of the saporous dessert while she cleaved the shivering remnants left in his wake.
The check came. It was nearly $200, and she let him pay without protest or even interest.
I asked you to come here so we could share a great meal. You'll be back some day.
For the food, absolutely, she replied evenly.
—Waj Nasser finds great food dramatic.