The first drink I ordered when I turned 21 was a martini—up and dry with olives. While the martini certainly wasn’t something I was nonchalantly sipping underage, it has been my drink of choice ever since. So when my dad called to say he’d be in town for a night and asked me to find a nice place to eat in the area, I immediately suggested Café Fiore—an Italian restaurant in Downtown Ventura with a martini lounge and live music on the weekends.
Patrick and I met my dad in the restaurant’s bar on a Thursday night. There was a gypsy woman walking around selling roses. I’ve seen her around before, wandering into bars and other hotspots in the area hoping to swindle a few bucks. The restaurant was pretty packed for a Thursday and a local R&B duo played covers from the corner of the restaurant all night. The dim lighting, dark wood, and bohemian décor further set the mood—cozy but classy, just the way I like it.
I started off the night with a lavender, honey, and lemon martini—an odd combination but one hell of a smooth cocktail. My dad opted for a glass of red and my beau a beer, all of which were graciously passed around the table. I sat nervously between the two, hoping their first meeting was going as well as planned. As they talked over shared interests (which they narrowed down to picking fun at me), I couldn’t help staring at the couple nearly twice my age seated at the table to the left of us—lips locked and hands liberally roaming over body parts.
We ordered another round of drinks and our entrées—two steaks and a plate of spaghetti. My dad flirted with the waitress and I sat bobbing my head along to a Ray Charles cover. The flank steaks were covered in a balsamic and berry sauce served alongside grilled vegetables and sautéed spinach. Every bite was a piece of heaven. The spaghetti came with meatballs that my dad could only compare to the size of “squirrel nuts.”
For dessert, a traditional New York cheesecake and a trio chocolate molten cake with extra spoons. My dad ordered an Old Fashioned, which was also shared around the table, and waved for the check.
After my dad’s last flirtatious endeavor with the waitress, the three of us made our way out of the still crowded restaurant, exchanged courtesies, and stumbled back to where we came from.