Ace and I were strolling down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey — a place where one can make a meal out of the free samples of clam chowder offered by hawkers trying to lure you into their establishments.
Rather than mooch samples all afternoon, though, and in need of more copious amounts of chowder, I started eyeing the restaurants, looking for an affordable one with outdoor seating — one that might permit Ace to sit with me and watch me while I ate.
That’s when the hostess at Cafe Fina called out. Well, she didn’t really call out — the city has cracked down on that practice. Instead she quietly and casually mentioned:
When I approached, she went on to explain they had some pretty good human food, too, and how the restaurant grew many of its own vegetables and how they were organic.
But she had us at doggie menu.
It offered “Chicken a la pooch,” “Hungry pup’s half pounder,” “Hound dog heaven,” and a 14-ounce steak that went for $15.95
The hostess came out with a treat, which of course made Ace get unsituated, so that he might paw her arm in a gesture of affection, which really translated into “I’ll have that dog treat. NOW.”
With some work, I got him back down, but he was nearly trembling with excitement — if not in anticipation of the burger, at least by the noises and scents that emanated from the kitchen, which was on the other side of an open window just a few feet away.
Ace had other ideas.
He took a seat right in front of the window, watching intently as the chef ladled my clam chowder into the bread bowl, its severed lid covered with melted cheese and garlic.
Yes, we were luxuriating a bit — forgetting for the moment about our budgetary limits, and straying from our near steady diet of fast food “Value Meals.”
I saw no reason we couldn’t live it up — at least for one meal.
His burger, cut into bite-sized chunks, was steaming, so I kept it on the tabletop for a minute. He waited impatiently — somehow seemingly knowing it was for him. Rather than just sit still and hope I’d toss him a piece, he was up and down, up and down, wriggling this way and that.
The check came to $17 — more than we’ve been spending on dinner, much less lunch.
How much was it worth?
Every penny of it.