Haven: Best Soup I've Had Today

It was fitting that Irina and I choose Haven for lunch yesterday. Just back from Paris, where the food was very, very good,  and I know that Haven has always delivered with its menu of local produce, fresh fish and those soft little biscuits covered with chicken livers and cream gravy. Irina and I have not had a real visit in months - how could this happen - so we were eager for lots of talk and nice food in pleasant surroundings.
What an unexpected lunch we shared. We showed our age and spunk, made our opinions and wishes known and had great conversation and a three course meal that was quite good.
Let me explain. We were slow to order because she and I had so much to say to one another. We finally pulled ourselves way from talk to focus on the menu. We heard the specials of the day from a wait person in training who was overseen by a regular waiter who's served at Haven a long time.
We began lunch with a dish of cold smoked shrimp over a bed of pickled vegetables, baby greens and slices of avocado.  Sounded delicious and it looked good too. Irina and I took our first bite and then we looked at each other. Shrimp not great, flat and maybe old, certainly tasteless. Pickled veggies didn't have much flavor, no punch.  Salt, we said to each other.  This dish needs salt and so a small dish of salt and pepper, accompanied by a tiny spoon, was brought to our table.
We salted and took a second bite. We looked at each other again. Salt didn't do it. There was still a missing ingredient - or the shrimp simply weren't fresh. The waiter passed our table and we called him into discussion.
Our plates were whisked away and menus were returned. Would we like to begin with the market soup of the day?  Yes, we would enjoy that tomato soup with Thai basil grown in the restaurant's own garden. Two bowls were put before us and we tasted. Not sublime, but certainly good.
"Best soup I've had today," I said to Irina.
And what would we like for a main course? Both wait staff had described the grilled Gulf catch of the day, which would be layered with French beans, wheat berry salad and picked red onions. The fish arrived in two huge shallow white bowls. We each took a first bite. The fish was good, very good. We took another bite as the waiter appeared.

"How is it?"
"Very good," we said, "Thank you for taking that smoked shrimp away." We are happy. We looked at each other and remarked that we'd turned away two dishes of food. Nicely, firmly. Without hesitation or irritation. And the wait staff, with grace and ease, took those plates away and offered us the menu for a second time.
Haven's manager appeared. "I understand that there was something wrong with the smoked shrimp" or words to that effect. We both said, "Yes, it had no taste, or perhaps the shrimp was not fresh. We tried salt, but that didn't do it.  Thank you for asking. Today's catch is very good."
Is it our age and level of confidence that make it easy to chart our course through such a situation without fretting? Is it that we simply believe that our opinions and judgments have validity and we can act on them with ease? Whatever, it's lovely to be 70 and to pleasantly ask for what we want and then say, with equal pleasantness, "Thank you. This fish is really good today."
We savored freshly made peach sorbet for dessert. Irina asked for an espresso and received a cappuccino. She had another occasion to be pleasant when saying, "But I ordered an espresso." Away went the cappuccino.
Irina and I lingered at the table over my iPad, looking at pictures of Paris. We talked of her upcoming trip to Finland and Oslo. She's traveling back to her roots. I encouraged her to upgrade her iPhone and call AT&T about adding texting capabilities as she travels.
We are both very fortunate that we have the time and funds to travel, that we can share stories about our adventures and that we are old enough and sure enough to say, "This smoked shrimp is not good."

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