The other day we broke one of our cardinal rules and went to a place that had been open for less than a week. I really like to give a place at least a month before visiting because we all know there are kinks to be worked out. On the other hand, you don't want to wait longer than three or four months because you might miss the very best of what a restaurant has to offer once the reviews start rolling out. We made an exception in this particular instance because we will be leaving for our cruise on Monday. There are no guarantees that we will have time to visit the place on our brief return to the city after the cruise, so we gave in to temptation and subsequently paid the price. Since the place is so new, I won't go into the details here. I'm sure that this location will smooth things out given a bit of time to soften the edges. The interesting part of the whole experience to me was how the grimness of our meal bled over into the rest of our afternoon.
We had squeezed in a quick bite before our last dinner party. As we walked the streets of Manhattan after the meal we discussed the final details for our menu, the parties that had already occurred and our plans for the cruise. We thought that we had put the (rather expensive) meal behind us but our moods were cloudy and sparks of temper threatened below the surface of our conversation. We were snapping and unusually cross with each other while our gait quickened to a soldier's march as we glared stoically ahead, taking no notice of the rich environment which surrounded us. Until finally we stopped and realized what had happened. We had been tainted by a negative experience, our personal issues had been exacerbated by the intense levels of stress that surrounded us as a multitude of anxious and indifferent staff members tried to adapt to a new environment. We had absorbed all of these emotions unwittingly and carried them with us as a kind of unwelcome karmic doggie bag.
Once we realized what had happened we were able to shake it off for real. We talked about the experience and how disappointing it had been for us. We had been expecting a lot and were excited about the opening. Things that would be considered average elsewhere were just not acceptable at this particular establishment. We talked about what we liked and what we thought could improve and what had sparked new ideas for both of us. Then we mentally sent the money up in flames as a sacrifice to new experiences. A few deep breaths to clear our lungs and our heads and we were ready to move on. It was as though a weight had been removed from our shoulders. It was not the burden of a bad experience per se, it was the burden of disappointment. It taught us a good lesson about the insidious effect of a negative experience. We will always strive to make sure that no one leaves our place under a shadowy cloud. No matter how faint its outlines may be, a cloud will feed off its environment and grow. Our job is to make sure that what's growing has a silver lining somewhere in it's composition.