When I was studying for the bar, long before I was a divorce and child custody attorney, the Constitutional Law lectures were given by a man with a predilection for horrible puns. He had a very dry delivery of a very dry subject, but he made it interesting by throwing in these painful puns to make his points memorable. He was, and I assume still is an avid follower of the Supreme Court. Occasionally he would be on CNN or MSNBC commenting on some rarefied legal principle and I always enjoyed watching him, though I imagine most non-lawyers would get lost in the intricacies of judicial logic no matter how eloquent his unpacking was.
He went on to become dean of the new law school at University of California-Irvine.
I had dinner with him Saturday night. Well, we were in the same restaurant, he at his table and me at mine. But technically we both had dinner, in the same location, at the same time. His name is Erwin Chemerinsky and in legal circles he’s a celebrity.
My brother Chris, author of the blog TotallyUnauthorized.com, was in town, and since his blog is about his great passions, the game of bridge, art, travel and reviewing restaurants we had to try the new, hottest place in town — Cadet. I called for a reservation and they were fully booked on a Saturday for dinner at any hour that I would want to eat. Which in my book is a good sign, but also an obstacle to overcome. I begged. I pleaded. I promised we’d be easy guests. Caroline, the reservations agent, offered to put us on a waitlist and follow up the next morning if anyone cancels.
Thankfully for me, rain was scheduled for the following day and into the night. As we all know, nothing hurts restaurants sales like a rainy southern California night. Bad weather for most of us means staying in, building a fire and ordering a pizza for some poor college kid to deliver in the pouring rain.
Having spent the day in front of a fireplace, I know of what I speak. The joys of rainy day and the warmth of a real wood fire with a couple of dogs curled up on me, and a good book to read, and I’m a happy camper.
Luckily for me though, I received a call from the lovely Caroline who invited me to a table for two at 6 p.m., a perfectly wonderful dinner hour. I was happy, my brother would get to review a new restaurant and I would look like a good and thoughtful baby brother.
We were seated promptly, which for me is a good thing; I hate having to wait for a table. Our server dropped by almost immediately and told us of the menu changes for the night and then left to retrieve our drinks. I’m going to say that the bar manager is doing an excellent job, in my opinion, because they fulfilled a rather unusual request I made — I like seltzer and bitters, but it’s the grapefruit bitters that I love the most, and they have it in stock!
I ordered the oxtail French onion soup, a kale and persimmon salad and a crab & mushroom appetizer. I’m here to say this was most definitely the best onion soup I’ve had — ever. It was delightfully savory and sweet, not hideously salty like most of them. The cheese and crouton were perfectly matched and properly proportioned to the soup.
A kale salad can be an adventure even for a survival naturalist. Since I’m not a survival naturalist, I asked if the kale was steamed then cooled, and I was informed that no, the kale is in fact massaged to break it down and make it more enjoyable; this again proved to me that Los Angeles is an amazing place — somewhere there is a job description for a “Kale Massager.” And I will gladly share with you that it works; I thoroughly enjoyed the meatiness of the kale, without the feeling that I was chewing my way through a rain forest.
As we enjoyed our desserts, I had the luscious lemon and blueberry tart, and Chris the apple crumble with walnut ice cream, we were discussing celebrity. He is a celebrity in his world. His blog, which has over 1,100 posts and I have no idea how many restaurant reviews, is followed by people that he runs into across the country at bridge tournaments. He was telling me how he was recently at a table with people he’d never met before, but they followed his blog and knew what he wrote about Art Basel in Miami Beach, and the steakhouses that he liked. He found it a curiously fun experience to be known by people who hadn’t met before.
After we left I mentioned that Dean Chemerinsky was in the restaurant — Chris kind of knew who he was, but I was the one who was thrilled to see him.
Celebrity is a funny thing. We only know the celebrities in our world. I have no idea who the big dogs are in bridge tournaments, except for Omar Sharif; and my brother doesn’t really know who the big dogs in the legal world are. But we can all spot our favorite celebrities when we see them.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.