The Return of an Old Friend, And a New One

When Alissa and I both lived in the South End (way back in the 90’s… yikes) one of our favorite places to share dinner was Geoffrey’s Cafe. It epitomized the South End to us – charming, whimsical, and filled with affable locals – with just the right amount of comfort food, cocktails, and delectable offerings to quiet the rumbling tummy.

When they left the original South End location, it was a sad day for those of us who enjoyed the neighborhood feel of the restaurant, as well as the consistent food. One of my last dinners there was actually with Alissa and her Mom.

Now, they have returned to the Back Bay, occupying what used to be Laurel, but in a much more funky and fun way. Gone are the dull beige trappings of neutral doldrums, replaced with walls steeped in the deepest red and dotted with a band of circular mirrors that undulates and ripples along the room. Crystal lamp shades dangle and sparkle throughout the space, while rich dark wood grounds it all. The space has also been opened up, and with a 1500 square foot kitchen in the back, there can be no complaints of claustrophobia.

The best part is that all the charm, camaraderie, and culinary craftiness of its former South End location (and subsequent Roslindale incarnation) remains intact. Original founder Michael Aplin was kind enough to greet me while I waited at the bar, shaking my hand and treating me like a long lost friend. He related his latest canine adventures, including a trip to Scranton, PA to rescue a dog. It’s a joy to talk to him and listen to his stories, and the easy-going kindness he exudes extends to all patrons.

I often wonder how those who have lost their partners manage to bounce back and still treat the world so well, when by all appearances it has not returned the favor. Michael seems to have done so, and it was a pleasure being in such good company. That pleasure is certainly enhanced by a cocktail, and Geoffrey’s is still a champion in that department as well.

I tried the “Ginger, Not Mary Ann” – and it’s a delightful doozy. Anything that incorporates gin and ginger beer in it is a grand thing in my book. More than a couple of these later, I was feeling rather wonderful, and when Alissa showed up, all smiles and splendor, it felt like we had gone back in time to a happier place. That’s the way it is with old friends.

We had each come a long way from those days of the gay 90’s, but our friendship, and ability to laugh at ourselves, had not changed in the least. Even in catching up on the sadder parts of life, it was good to be together again in the city where we first met so many years ago.

I don’t have that many really close friends that I can trust no matter what – I can probably count them on both hands – but the ones I do have have been with me through the good and the bad, and they’re the people that have become family. I know I can rely on them regardless of what position we’re in, how far apart we are, and how much time has passed. Alissa is one of those friends.

Before we departed, Michael came back out and brought us each a bag of homemade granola for breakfast the next morning. A gracious gift, from a gracious man – and it would prove to be badly-needed.

After saying good-bye to Alissa, I headed back out to grab a cocktail with BosGuy. We’d been trying to meet up for drinks for a few months, ever since we began corresponding through our blogs. He’s one of my favorite reads for his take on Boston’s restaurants, as well as his enviable travels.

We met at Sister Sorel’s, where we managed to find an open pair of seats at the bar. In person, he is just as witty and erudite as he is on his blog, and it’s always reassuring to find that the real person matches an online persona perfectly. (I’m told some don’t…) After a couple of Gypsy’s (another gin-soaked concoction) I had to call it a night, and bid BosGuy adieu until the next time.

(This is when the granola came in handy. Had I not had a bowl of it when I got home – and a couple glasses of water – I would have been a sorry case the next day. As it was, I slept in and felt only slightly the worse for wear. The perfect set-up for a dinner in Quincy with Josie and the Pussycats…)


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