We still managed to have a gloriously irreverent time, thanks to the help of a gregarious waiter and a bottle of ChÃ©nas Domaine de la Combe Remont (ca. 1985, a steal at $22.80). Our laughter escalated as we observed one ostentatious oddity after another. A man resembling an embalmed Parisian duke (complete with Edwardian garb: frilly collar, blossoming cuffs, tails, lacquered hair and make-up) sat with painfully perfect posture sipping a martini. Our waiter told us that he does not work there, but is in fact a âregular.â
The kitchen tour, which took us past cheese rooms and sprout gardens and fish silos and antique coffee roasters and slab upon slab of aged meat, ended in the largest wine cellar in the world (the largest one attached to a restaurant, at least). When the Bucs won the 2003 Super Bowl, Warren Sapp celebrated at Bernâs by ordering their most expensive bottle â an 1851 Gruaud Larose for $10,000. We asked the sommelier what it tasted like.
âIt was good,â he said.
We were escorted to a private booth in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. So romantic. So private. âOh, if these walls could talk,â I wondered. But the waiter did talk, regaling us with stories of sexual conquest, all of them ending with, well, dessert.
My family and I opted for less promiscuous fun, submitting requests to the house accordionist. I ogled the menu for a while, but eventually settled on the house favorites: the Cappuccino Bernâs Steakhouse and the infamous macadamia nut ice cream, which took Bern himself seven years to perfect and was referred to by our waiter (who called it âthe MacNutâ) as âthe best ice cream ever."
It was good.
There was also a visit to the restroom, where Ted faced the most infuriatingly complex toilet system heâs ever encountered. (And thatâs saying a lot.) With one press of a green button, a used plastic seat cover is sucked away and magically replaced with a fresh one that seems to appear from nowhere.
And then you take a shit.
Later on, my dad had an enlightening conversation in the same restroom. âDid you have a nice evening?â he asked a man at the urinal. âOh yes,â the man replied. âItâs funny: I bought an expensive bottle of wine, and now Iâm just pissing it away.â
Quality may verge on silliness at Bernâs, but thatâs all part of the appeal. You may be peeing in the same urinal that once served as a receptacle for le pipi de PrÃ©sident Bush, who has dined there several times. In fact, the owners of Bernâs have put your business and their earnings to good use in several maximum contributions to the 2004 Bush campaign.
So donât worry, urinal man. You didnât piss your money away.