Drunk of the Week

You should never have to wait for some things: for sex in a pornographic film claiming to have a plot and "acting"; for beer in a bar; for red lights; for people to move out of the left lane on the highway; for delivered pizza; for the football season to start. If God had meant for us to wait for such things, he would have given us more patience or made the day two hours longer.

But I don't mind waiting for some things: for beer to chill in a cooler full of ice and salt; for nine bucks' worth of Taco Bell (approximately ten pounds of grease) while sitting in a cab trying to keep my eyes from crossing; for my date to finish her two-hour ritual of primping, curling, trimming, clipping and lacquering, as long as she has beer in the fridge; and for a table in a restaurant that has a good bar.

Some restaurants have large bar sections or simply turn into bars after a certain hour on certain nights. Some bars try to be restaurants by serving a couple of unoriginal menu items. But it's a rare treat when a good restaurant has a good bar set off to the side where you can wait for the next open table. Even rarer is the restaurant bar that serves drinks of such high quality that you soon don't care if a table ever opens up. The Cherry Tomato (4645 East 23rd Avenue) has such a bar -- not that you'd ever guess it. The Park Hill area just doesn't seem that tolerant of drunks wandering around the streets searching for their cars.

The Institute of Drinking Studies' former Head of Research would frequent this place when his parents came to town, which is how I heard about it. After one of his family dinners there, I'd look directly in his red eyes the next morning and think that he must have gone on to at least two bars without me and had to be holding back information. But I recently learned -- the hard way -- that he only needed a visit to the Tomato to get in that pitiful condition.

During what turned into a forty-minute wait (in retrospect, my liver couldn't have lasted much longer), we plopped our rears on bar stools that were so low our chins barely peeked above the counter. We felt like we were sitting at the kiddie table during a family dinner. But rather than go for Shirley Temples, we sampled a couple of wines, and I also ordered a Maker's Mark and Coke. I think they forgot the Coke -- or inadvertently added high-octane fuel. I had to nurse this drink just to keep my hair from combusting, and I only got one down before we were seated.

At which point I promptly ordered another one, of course. By now I was drunk, and my inhibitions and judgment were gone -- which resulted in paralyzing indecisiveness when it came to picking an entree. This also meant I had time to finish the second drink before our food came. As any professional drinker knows, you should have a drink with dinner, and I considered myself still in relatively good shape because I had the class and wisdom to order white wine with our white-sauced entrees. The food was impeccable, and while the heavy meal should have induced a coma, the Maker's Mark sustained me, even convincing me that I needed that final glass of wine.

I was wrong, as quickly became evident when nature called, I answered, and the trek to the bathroom took three days. I had to relearn walking while traversing a labyrinth of red and white walls before I found relief. After successfully avoiding a urologic incident on scale with Hurricane Dennis, though, I made a strong comeback, because the next thought that crossed my addled pate was this: "You could totally have sex back here and nobody would know." That's one of my few clear memories of the night.

Obviously, the Cherry Tomato is a fine establishment, one that the Institute highly recommends for a date who may need persuading that you are not actually a pig wearing shoes. Be sure to stop in the bar and have a few drinks; they'll make dinner that much more enjoyable, and the conversation will be free-flowing. With any luck, you may even end up in the bathroom. -- Patrick Osborn


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