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Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
Do people take Valentine’s Day Seriously?
Last night in the Gaslamp, you’d better believe it. It was a Tuesday but it looked like a Friday.
Here’s a sampling of the sights.
I’m crossing Horton Plaza towards Fourth. See a crowd outside Rei do Gado (“Cattle King”), the Brazilian carnivore's paradise.
When I get up there, behind the line on the street, this waiter’s hauling two massive spears of meat, still sizzling from the barbecue. Name’s Michael. Says they’re turkey meat wrapped in bacon.
He hauls them off for this couple, Somiyah and Alberto.
Somiyah, Michael, Alberto
She’s from 'Diego central, he’s from Oceanside. It’s their Valentine’s night. “This is the best meat place,” says Somiyah. “Michael loves steak. This has the best."
I see you pay $48 each for all you can eat. Not cheap, but you can gorge till you burst ponm a dozen barbecued meats, including appetizers for the price.
How popular? Just checked this mawnin’. They had 485 people last night. Wow. You do the math.
* * *
On Fifth, The Melting Pot fondue place (901 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp, 619-234-5554), is humming too.
But the big thingfor me is this spectacular old car outside.
The chauffeur/owner, Lance Haynes, says it’s a 1929 Durant.
Who’s heard of Durant cars? “It was made by William Durant,” says Lance. “Who was he? Just the guy who created General Motors. But they kicked him out. So he started his own company. This baby took me four years and $75,000 to restore.”
His clients come pouring out of the Melting Pot and into the red velvet seats.
They paid about $44 each for fondue that includes BBQ pork, chicken and shrimp. The ladies are all dressed for the part the car kinda dictates.
“The food was good, but the ride is great. The whole thing made a great Valentine’s,” says this gal who’s into the car before I can get her name.
Her beau beams. Lance turns on his high beams. Cranks up the growler engine.
But you talk of love? I'm in lurv with the hood ornament mascot.
Rolls Royce, kiss my mascot!
William Crapo Durant made this car. Honest. But nothing crapo about it
Lance shows the ladies how to pull the velvet cord that starts the 1920s police siren. Then they’re off with a wail straight out of The Untouchables.
* * *
Lauren, the roses guy, comes by.
“How’s it been tonight?” I ask.
“So-so,” he says. “I’ve sold about twenty.”
He means twenty bunches of 10 red roses, $20 each.
“Even with Valentine’s it’s not as good as Fridays and Saturdays. And Gaslamp’s never as good as Hillcrest.”
* * *
Oh, and in Dobson’s later (956 Broadway Circle, 619-696-0398), further up the bar, spot this lady. She’s let go of her drink, and with both hands, she holds a single red rose up to her nose. Her eyes close, slowly.
Man. Some guy’s done something right.
Talking of which, time to get home to the lovely Carla. Via Von’s flower section, of course. I'm thinking single red rose.