When Winston asked would I like to come to Gordon’s Pier restaurant for dinner I immediately, impulsively, accepted his invitation. “Tables for two,” he said. “You can take your sidekick Agnes. Think she’ll come?” Despite knowing Agnes and Zoom had recently become almost inseparable, I assured Winston I’d drag her along.
Then the panic set in. Yes, I had dined out once or twice since lockdown but an invitation to Sandals Gordon was different. Iggy Azalea came to mind: “I’m so fancy, back in the fast lane.” A lot had happened to me during lockdown. I had changed. I felt I was being tested.
Among my anxieties: What to wear? Since COVID I’ve dropped some ten pounds. I’m lean, buffed, reminiscent of my muscle-head days. None of my clothes fit; I’ve adopted a new look. Mostly I’m in relaxed, athletic, gym-wear. No heels, just sneakers. Occasionally I’ll put on combat boots. Should I show up at Gordon’s Pier flashing my COVID-inspired couture? No, Mae, said the voice in my head. Wear a dress. With heels! It took some serious self-persuasion but finally I settled for a mini red number. A dress.
Another concern: I had become a vegetarian. Gordon’s is famous for its steak. I texted Winston: “Hey, no meat for me these days but I occasionally I’ll go for fish. Will that be a problem?” His answer was spontaneous: “Of course not. No problem at all!”
I feel so silly now writing this but here goes: Now that my vegetarian concerns had been settled, I created a new problem for myself. For the last three months or so I’ve been eating off a paper plate, with just a fork, while sitting in my kitchen veranda. (Somewhere along the line COVID helped me lose all interest in regular dishes that require washing up after meals!) Would I remember how to use a proper knife and fork at a nicely laid table? Would I remember which spoon went with what? I tried to recall my long ago days at finishing school, including my table manners. (Speaking of silverware, for several minutes I seriously considered taking my own. My own glass, too. And maybe some drinking straws. Can a girl be too safe these days? What about my mask? Should I wear one? When do I take it off? Should I keep it on while drinking through my straw?
I thought about the food servers. Would they be wearing face covering? Should one of them cough or sneeze, what would I do? Stay put or head for the nearest exit? What if Agnes was the offender? Yes, silly thoughts. But I did warn you, didn’t I? It’s not easy being stir crazy. Turned out I need not have worried. Sandals’ Security took our temperature at the gate, and nearly caused me a panic attack. What if I gave off too much of the wrong kind of heat? But all the smiling security officer said was: “You may proceed, ladies.”
No need to pull out the measuring tape I’ve lately been carrying in my purse. The restaurant managers had taken care of that too. The tables were at least six feet apart. (I thought I should suggest to CMO Sharon Belmar-George that the health authorities publish a handbook on COVID etiquette. Maybe I will. Scarce as are jobs these days, we’d be happy to design and print it at the STAR.)
My first real meal out in weeks (months?) was glitch free. I’m happy to tell it was a fun journey into a world I had almost forgotten. Thank you, Gordon’s. The set was storybook magical, romantic, surrounded by turquoise water replete with visible dancing fish, with the sound of waves gently caressing the seashore and a sunset as can be experienced only in the Caribbean. After so many curfews, what an uplifting sight to behold!
Everything was top tier. The restaurant was spotless, suggesting the extra effort put in by re-trained staff in the time of COVID. The service was impeccable, waitresses friendly without being overbearing, always attentive despite keeping their social distance. We just knew they were smiling behind their Sandals masks.
For appetizers Agnes and I chose the coconut-crusted crab cakes and pan-fried scallops. Light, succulent and so full of flavors. For the main course we had melt-in-your-mouth swordfish fillet and Thai green seafood curry—the signature dish. The meaty fish was perfectly grilled, moist yet somehow candied. The curry was a perfect blend of spicy and sweet. Can a lady remain a lady after pronouncing the decadent desserts orgasmic? Truth is truth. What a way to end my first evening out since the introduction of COVID to the language.
Thank you, chef Henrique, for reawaking my senses. And a special thanks to Mr. Anderson and team Sandals for a truly wonderful evening. I officially announce you ready for business, new normal and all. I also take this opportunity to wish every other hotel a successful new beginning in this not altogether welcome evolving new world. Hello guests, hello tourists, hello visitors, hello friends.
Hello world, we’re here again. As always, Saint Lucia has your back!