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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

this ain't your mama's bottle o'heinz

oh, how i loved saturday, although it had a bit of a rocky start to it.

you know that we'd been planning for the last several weeks to have a girls' night out with the teen and a couple of her friends to celebrate her birthday. she'd invited her two best buddies at her school, and we were going to get mani/pedis and head out to a fun dinner "somewhere cool, mom." i'd decided right away to take them to ketchup, the site of some infamous awkward scene on "the hills," partly owned by ashton kutcher and tara reid. i kept that tidbit to myself up until that morning, hoping to surprise the teen, but i broke down and told her so that she could look at the menu and make sure there would be something she'd want to eat.

i also spent the last several days trying to find an alternative - for a couple of reasons. one, in case she didn't like anything on the menu, and two, because so many reviews and trusted sources put me on the alert for bad service and overpriced/not so delicious food. but in the end, she was totally excited to go and did find menu items to her liking. yay!

but then we hit a couple of other snags - her friend blondie ended up backing out due to some family gathering. so she decided to invite BFF - who she hadn't included mainly because mixing her old and new friends always proves to be a recipe for disaster - and as she waited for BFF to get permission from her folks to join us, she texted rock-el to let her know what was happening.

unfortunately, rock-el couldn't get past the memory of past awkwardness with the teen's BFF, and so she backed out. oy vey. girls!

the teen was disappointed, but i spun it to get her to look at the bright side and not be upset with her friends, and then it was finally time to get going. we picked up BFF and headed off to our old favorite nail salon, urbane beauty.

after grabbing refreshments at the neighboring coffee bean, we walked into the nail salon, chose polish colors, and got settled in their big, comfy spa pedicure chairs.

those stupid toe separators make it look like hammertime. but my toes are normal, i promise.

i'd decided to step out of my comfort zone and picked a nice, bright red for my fingertips. BFF chose a sunny yellow, and the teen remarked that it looked like we'd dipped our hands in ketchup and mustard. how appropriate!

from there, we hopped onto the freeway and made our way to the west side. i missed the navigation system in the old hoopdie (toyota's navi can only be programmed when in "park," so i decided to save a bunch of cash and skipped it), but knew i could count on my trusty iPhone with its google maps app to get me where i needed to go. right?

wrong. the piece of shit kept freezing up, and while i had a general idea of where i was going, i ended up using the teen's iPhone. the directions were really weird - taking us through twisty, turny, foggy coldwater canyon, but whatever, we were ahead of schedule.

until i turned the wrong way onto sunset and ended up waaaaay the hell out on the other side, near marymount high school and circling the UCLA campus. damn. and we still needed to change from our shorts into something a bit more suitable for dinner! so i told the girls to do their thing while i flipped a bitch and finally started heading in the right direction.

in my uber klassy way, i waited till we were back in beverly hills [that's where i wanna be], swung onto a residential street (i think it was roxbury, actually), and made my own quick change. and with about 2.25 minutes to spare before our reservation time, we finally saw it:

i'd planned on finding a nearby parking lot to save some cash on valet, but we were totally cutting it close. so i bit the bullet, drove up to the curb, accepted the ticket, and handed the dude my key.

inside, we stood behind a couple of women who were upset at being denied their table - apparently, they were much more than 3 minutes late for their reservation. yikes. we studiously avoided making eye contact and checked out our surroundings. hey, look, you can get your own ketchup polo for...$55.

we had no problems checking in and being escorted to our table. yay for not being late and getting turned away! i wasted no time in sitting down and snapping away, and the girls checked out the menu.

as we sat looking around and waiting for our server, two women were seated in the booth right next to us. and then we were a little taken aback when their server arrived almost immediately to greet them and offer drinks. hmmm. i hoped this wasn't an indication of what the rest of the evening would be like.

my worries ended up being unwarranted, as our server, chris, arrived and introduced himself. and he was so cute! haha - even the girls perked up as he chatted with us. i didn't want to be obvious about it, so i pretended to take a picture of the view - making sure to catch him in the shot. i'm sure i wasn't stealth, and i didn't even end up with a great shot, but that's okay.

breadbasket. little corn muffins, pretzel bread, breadsticks. served with what tasted like honey butter and...mustard. aside from that last bit, it was a good start for the meal. i hoped the rest of it would be as tasty.

i'd read about free martini shot samples on yelp, and i wondered if we'd be offered any. you know i don't drink, but i'm a sucker for free stuff. so when the girl appeared behind us, with the makings for "grape crush," "summer lovin," and "dazed & confused" martinis on the cart, i went for it. i'm a sucker for grape-flavored stuff.

blech. it was gross. but the teen, with that typical adolescent curiosity about alcohol, clamored for a taste. so i slid the shot glass her way and let her have a sip.

"it tastes like nyquil," she said. "gross." told ya.

we kicked off dinner with an order of their "threesome" - parmesan garlic, sweet potato, and cajun fries. it was served with a tray containing their five homemade flavors of ketchup: maple, mango, wasabi, ranch, and chipotle. pretty yummy.

it didn't take long before the rest of our food arrived. a quick note: i didn't really want to use flash in there, so some of these pictures are sporting a freaky pinky-reddish glow to 'em. that lighting was cool looking, but it sure ain't flattering.

despite having the same exact meal for lunch at home earlier in the day, the teen went with the vegetarian-friendly "american comfort" - tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on texas toast.

BFF's "BBQ chick" - bbq'd chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.

i'd decided to order from the apps and sides sections of the menu (plus a salad), instead of an entree. wedge salad:

kobe BLT sliders (you can see i gave up and used the flash):

and the best part - mac 'n cheese, featuring white truffle oil and dungeness crab. oh, so delicious.

i ended up taking one of those sliders and at least half of the mac 'n cheese home. yay for leftovers! despite that fact, when chris offered dessert menus, i happily accepted. there's always room for dessert, you know. we decided to share the ice cream sandwich and s'mores snack pack.

while the girls trotted off to the bathroom, i reminded him that it was the teen's birthday. he promised to wait till they returned before bringing out the sweets. and when he did, there was a candle in the marshmallow cream and he sang "happy birthday" while the teen alternately grinned and cringed. heh.

that s'mores snack pack was a twist on the traditional dessert, and i really liked it. it featured a bowl of fabulously rich chocolate pudding, marshmallow cream that had been "toasted" on the top, and graham crackers to eat it with. so good.

the girls dug into the ice cream sandwich.

after he brought the check (which amused me, because our trip to the nail salon cost more than dinner), chris snapped a quick shot of the three of us.

i headed to the restroom (TINY! good god), and proceeded to damn near get myself locked into the stall. sheesh.

a couple more shots before we handed our ticket to the valet:

i thought it was weird that we had to walk downstairs to get to the car. WTF kind of valet service is that? oh, well. we watched the columns change colors as we walked and checked out the decor in the courtyard.

before hopping in the waiting car, the girls paused to take a couple of pictures in the mirror.

and then we were outta there.

with a gift card burning a hole in the teen's pocket and a raging desire to do some shopping, we stopped at the americana at brand on the way home. i knew there was a ginormous forever 21 there, and they were totally excited to check it out.

i thought it was pretty sad that it was only just after 9 and i was yawning. i'm such an old woman.

they both ended up finding some stuff, and clutching bright pink plastic bags containing their loot, we trooped back to the car and headed east. by the time we dropped off BFF, pulled into the gate, and trudged up the stairs, it was just shy of 11:00.

day 1 of operation teen birthday princess weekend, check!


  1. Is it sad that the birthday celebration I went to last night also consisted of a huge order of fries....and very little else?

  2. Yay for Chris being a decent photog! Usually pics taken by servers come out so bad!

  3. i've been wanting to try ketchup because of my french fries obsession. glad you guys had fun!

  4. i LOVE leftovers! especially mac n cheesey ones.

    all i can think is that for such a supposedly trendy place, ketchup is so...90s. bad font and all. glad you guys had a good time despite the bad reviews!

  5. Happy Birthday the TEEN! Too bad the new girls and the BFF couldn't get over it to all celebrate with her.

    yum..the fries!!! I thought it was the only good thing there.

  6. SO FUN!!! Glad it all worked out in the end with the teens friends...that could have been a sticky situation!

    Oh and I *just* learned that you can do the navigation and re-routing in the Prius through the voice over command while driving! I have had mine for two years and never knew...thought I would pass it along! :)

  7. That mac and cheese looked great...I hope the leftovers held up!

  8. Your nails look spectacular!!

    I think the food at ketchup looks fabby. It's totally up my alley.

  9. I like the ketchup and mustard nails :) Cute.

    Happy Birthday Teen!

  10. I luuuuve fries. Yum. YUMMMM. The BFF and the Teen kind of look alike :)

  11. u always dress so fantastically! do most stay home mums in CA have such interesting and eventful life like you do?

  12. I went to Ketchup for my birthday with a group of friends and we all had a fab time -- excellent service (from a cutie pie waiter), delicious food, fun atmosphere, etc. I'm glad the teen had a good time too!

    BTW, I wish I would have remembered the drink I had. Summer Lovin' is the shit. I'm bummed you missed out.

  13. Looks like a fabulous birthday celebration for the teen (save for the snafu at the beginning of the day)!


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