A Night to Remember at The Top of the Hub

15 May

If there will be nothing else I can recall, years later when I try to unearth old, pleasant memories–I pray that even if my mind is gone I’ll remember last night.

Dolled up (a rarity for me) in a little black number that tied around my neck and slim gladiator-like wedges, beside an equally well-dressed Mickey in a blue blazer, button up shirt and a black tie–we enjoyed a view of Cambridge that I can only compare to being in an airplane. High above the city, hidden (but not really) on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Building in Boston, the world below was a mass of glittering lights, and back-lit, misty, skyscrapers that seemed to curve around the edge of the Earth.

Around us, we could feel the eyes of the waitstaff as well as other diners. Younger than most of the other patrons of the Top of the Hub restaurant, we were acutely aware of the judgement that was happening around us. The worry in the staff members eyes that we were perhaps going to skip out on our bill, or under tip for our meal. Of course, they needn’t have worried. (Though on the way there, Mickey and I had a moment where we shared the fear of not having quite enough for such a lavish experience.) As for the other diners; I could only assume they disliked our youth and the  occasional boisterousness in which we enjoyed life, our meals and each other.

The Top of the Hub, is known for its high class dining experience, and we came prepared to pay easily over one hundred dollars on our evening. We had never been to a fine dining eatery prior to this; and there has always been a certain image or two in my mind as to what sort of an experience it would be.  High prices with small portions. Snooty waitstaff and hostesses. A certain, unbreakable law of how to use your silverware appropriately. Luckily, I found most of these situations to be untrue to The Top of the Hub.

After slipping past the security in the lobby, we took the elevators up to the 52nd floor. (Large silver lettering points the way as you head to the lifts.) As you step off the elevator, beware of a large floral display as you move toward the tall glass doors. (I nearly ran into it with all my grace and poise.)  Overwhelmed by the whole situation, I hardly got a look at the entrance way. From what I saw, the walls were lined with a well-polished mixture of dark and light woods. The hostess stand is immediately to your left as you enter, and a well-dressed, high-haired young woman greeted us cheerily asking if we would like to dine casually, or formally.  (As I hadn’t thought to bring a coat, I wore a hooded sweatshirt over my nice dress to keep warm in the drizzling weather. Mickey told me later that the hostess eyed me, almost unpleasantly when asking where we would prefer to dine.) She explained that the menu was the only real difference in the two options, and as we had planned for the real experience, we opted for formal.

A second hostess was instructed to take us to a table, and we quickly weaved toward the back of the establishment; passing walls of fine wines, partitions where groups chatted and celebrated someone’s birthday, round yellow almost old-fashioned looking lamps hung at even intervals across the floor shining dim romantic lighting across the tables. Our table was close to one of the multiple large glass windows overlooking the city below. I heard myself take a breath in sharply, amazed, and felt Mickey smiling with pride somewhere to my left. The hostess pulled my seat out for me, and upon sitting, daintily folded my napkin in my lap for me as well. Unused to such treatment, I felt slightly embarrassed but appreciated the gesture all the same. Mickey quickly pulled his napkin into his own lap to avoid such treatment. Our menus were presented to us and she left us to own own devices.

The tables were all carefully arranged with white table cloths (real linen), wine glasses (short and tall), napkins, utensils and one tiny plant for color. Our waiter was swift to approach and greet us, removing extra place settings from the table, as he explained the night’s specials. Knowledgeable, skilled and pleasant–I admired our servers work. Unlike other establishments, I noticed that our waiter at the Top of the Hub was attentive to all details and patient. After putting down our appetizers, a salad and the clam chowder, he realized before I did that after I had asked for the dressing on the side the kitchen had put dressing on the salad. He apologized and took it back to the kitchen without me even asking, returning moments later with a dressing-free salad. Once the food was on the table, he made a point to stand and wait at the table before we thanked and dismissed him–being sure that we needed nothing more at the moment.

Though the appetizers weren’t much to write home about–the entree will forever haunt my taste buds. Never again will I be able to enjoy Lamb anywhere else. They have made it impossible for me to ever hope to find a better prepared, more delicious meal. Portions are sizable, giving you what you ought to get for the prices. (which range from $25 to $70 a plate depending.) My lamb arrived as what seemed to be a whole leg, slowly cooked until the tender, dark meat fell from the bone without help from a knife. Spices and a tomato-based stock made the meat tender and moist–not dry. Paired with a fruit compote, whipped potatoes and asparagus–it was heavenly. Mickey’s eyes lit up as he took a bite of his Haddock, served with surprise steamers, mashed potatoes, and lightly dusted with cheese–he has rarely ever looked so contented during a meal.

If nothing else, I would go back just for the view. As we left, I stared longingly at the skyline once more and staff members that hadn’t even helped us bid us a good night, thanking us for coming as if we were royalty.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Mickey said as we made our way home. “It was like blood to a shark. You’re spoiled now.” I smiled, knowing he was probably right.

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