A Rainy Rendezvous for Lunch
I drove 3 hours in pouring rain to meet my dear friend Rhona for lunch at Cenote. But, I couldn't complain. She'd flown all the way from Baku, Azerbaijan!
Of course Rhona didn't fly all that way, just for our lunch. She had come for foot surgery. Which is another reason I couldn't complain.
Once an Old House
Over emails, we tried to find a place to meet. Neither of us had been to Cenote before, but the website's vintage image looked pretty delightful. A quaint house, built in 1887!
A few years ago, a cafe on Caesar Chavez in East Austin would not have been up for consideration... for the Ladies Who Lunch. But it's become a fun area, without the headaches of Austin parking. And we aren't exactly the Ladies Who Lunch, anyway.
Crowded, But Friendly
I have no photo of Rhona and me, when we spotted each other. It's been a while, so there was some giddy hugging in the busy entrance. Then I rushed to grab a table while Rhona ordered.
Then it was my turn at the counter, where Jonathan took my order. His welcoming smile took me by surprise... since the hippest places in Austin often seem less inclined to smile. Rhona and I chatted with Jonathan later and had him pose for a photo with his snappy suspenders! Maybe he was just being nice to us because we were the oldest diners in the joint... or maybe the "boot" on Rhona's repaired foot gave us some sympathy. Whatever, Jonathan gets our vote for nicest employee at Cenote... or maybe in Austin.
Quick Mention of Food
Since it's a dining blog, I must. Here's a photo of my Mango Salad. My photography skills did not help me capture just how delicious it was.
Hunks of mango and chunks of strawberry... floppy ribbons of carrot, fat slivers of avocado and a tangy, cilantro & lime dressing! It was so much bigger than it looks. And for Austin, it was a cheap. $8.00!
Rhona and Goodies
I told Rhona I needed a photo of her snazzy Chai tea and breakfast burrito, but really I was taking a photo of the couple over her right shoulder. I whispered to Rho, that we were lucky to have gotten the last table. The nice fellow behind her, had seen me eyeing the table earlier, just before he sat down. He smiled and offered the table to me, then asked the nearby woman if he could share hers.
I think there were a lot of people sharing tables who didn't know each other. The tiny place was packed, since the spacious patio and porch areas were soggy.
Rhona and I seemed to be the only ones talking in the whole place. We are pretty good talkers generally, but this time we had a couple of years to catch up on. I wonder if all those people surrounding us, were really able to block out our chatter. There's no way I could have ignored the only conversation in the place. In fact I think our conversation was pretty worthy, so it's quite possible that our whole 3-hour chat was actually typed right onto someone's computer. An interesting read.
The Table Giver
I never got the name of this nice guy who gave us the table. He gets my vote for nicest customer at Cenote. I thanked him again when he stood to leave. He insisted he should thank us!
He said if I hadn't walked up when I did, he wouldn't have met the nice woman he shared a table with. He went on to say that she wouldn't let him buy her lunch, but he did indeed have a date with her on Friday. I assured him that I didn't believe that. "I saw you two greeting each other! Didn't you share a hug and a kiss?" We laughed back and forth and he inquired about Rhona's foot and wished us safe travels back to Houston and Baku. By the time he left I was shaking my head wondering if I'd dreamed up the hug and kiss part. Or is this just how strangers greet each other in Austin, now. Or were they really friends already... We'll never know. Anyway, we was a fun people encounter, especially for a cafe filled with people staring at computers.
Our Photo Time
Before departing, our new friend offered to take a photo of the 2 of us. As we stood to pose between the tables, I bumped into one woman on her computer. "What's with these two?" I half expected to hear. But no one rolled their eyes. They were all too focused to be bothered.
After 3.5 hours there were a couple empty tables, so I could snap a photo of the curious yellow room dividers and the trees painted on the wall, above the old alcoves. I tried to imagine the house 100+ years ago.
Rhona and I stepped outside to catch a glimpse of the exterior since the rain had stopped. The curious metal octopus was quite a contrast to the classic bay window. To the right, I saw just one lone woman studying her computer on a soggy table under the canopy.
I carried my closed umbrella to the front patio. I tried to imagine how crowded and fun this place must be on a sunny afternoon when those blue umbrellas are raised to shade the picnic tables. Another day!
Before saying our good-byes, I had to laugh at the funny green frog at the far end of the yard, near some orange classroom chairs. That frog fit the yard vibe just as oddly as Rhona and I fit into the atmosphere inside Cenote.
Maybe it wasn't the ideal place for our reunion, but I liked the way it all fell into place. I liked the food and the characters and the house itself. But mostly, I loved my Rainy-day Reunion with Rhona!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.