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Fraternizing with the Enemy at Morton's Steakhouse

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Monday started out smoothly enough. We got to sleep in, due to the two time zone change westward. We met up in the lobby, the three Mousketeers (Dr. C, the other Dr. C, and me) and chose not to leave the hotel for grub. Molly’s Kitchen is the hotel’s breakfast and lunch joint, and that looked good enough for us.

Another speaker for our Symposium, Tom Kling, joined us for breakfast. We were all smiles, and we got happier once the food arrived. I had their chicken fried steak and eggs, as I was worried I’d not get any lunch once things got frantic. There were pancakes, omelettes and fruit all around, though; nobody was suffering from a dearth of calories by the time we left.

We’d checked in at the conference the evening before, and we wanted to be present for the opening of the vendor exposition at 10 A.M. So we grabbed our stuff and headed over to the Anaheim Convention Center.

A really big place! Even 13,000 chemists and several hundred vendors couldn’t begin to fill it up. Some of the meetings are held at nearby hotels, but that’s because we don’t need a hall that seats 1,000 for a talk on resonance-amplified spin relaxation detection of lanthanide elements, if you catch my drift. Anyway, the Expo was a big hit. I wandered around looking for the giveaways, especially nice bags for PJ to carry her lunch (and other plunder) in when she goes to work. (Me, I get to eat at home.)

After several hours of gawking about like newbies we found the wayward Dr. C (you know which one THAT is) and decided we were low on fuel for the engines. Time to scare up some food!

With the conference in full swing, we knew all the eateries would be doing a land office business. So we walked a ways northeast. We had a new friend in tow, which made for a ncie foursome, and he knew of this place that was several blocks away, over near his hotel.

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We didn’t make it to our intended stop before we ran across some wonderful smells wafting out of the door of a place that we would have otherwise walked right by. The Gandhi Palace Indian Buffet. That was good enough for us! The crowd hadn’t made it that far either, but we could see just behind us that it wouldn’t be long. We pushed in, paid and then grazed. A good lunch!

The walk back was pleasant in the cool air and sunshine, and we threw ourselves into a tough afternoon of listening to talks and making up challenging questions for the speakers. It’s a little game we geeks professional scientists play, you see. And believe me, it takes it right out of you! It’s every bit as tiring as any contact sport. Why, in the sessions I attended I often saw as much as 20% of the audience passed out from the strain.

Which means that, by the time evening came our way, we were hungry. Fortunately, we’d misplaced Dr. C once again. And he’d found some nice folks from Bayer who were willing to take us to dinner! (I don’t know how he does it; natural charm won’t explain it.) Bayer’s sales manager was included in the entourage, and she chose Morton’s Steakhouse as our venue.

It’s good to know the sales manager.

The dinner party wound up being seven in all: Three from Bayer (Jaimie, Bharat, David), three from Dow (Tom, Dr. C, and the other Dr. C) and me. Lonely lil’ ol’ me. I thought that I could drown my loneliness in the food in drink, if I had to. Fortunately, these heavyweight firms graciously included me in the chit-chat as well as the fine dining.

Morton’s has a repurtation as a great dining experience, with outstanding service, phenomenal aged beef, a brilliant wine selection, and calming ambience. With a plethora of chemists in town the last element was a bit challenged, but the overall experience was sublime. I’ve only ever been in one other Morton’s, in D.C., with my daughter in tow. This location was every bit as good as I remembered the other one being.

Several of us had their five-onion soup as an appetizer, although there were other choices scattered about. I tried out a Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA as my beverage. That was one tasty brew, with a solid bite from the extra hops. Others had everything from iced tea to wine by the glass. The lubricant helped to move the talk along, enough so we didn’t notice that service was a bit slow. This wasn’t Morton’s fault, and our waiter was quick to apologize well before we caught on. Seems there was a party of 40 convention-goers who’d gotten in ahead of us.

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We didn’t mind, we were talking shop. Among other things. And the glasses never went empty, so of course we didn’t complain.

The main course plates arrived, interrupting our discussions. Steaks of various sizes and scorch coefficients abounded, including one massive vegetarian plate. That thing was huge! Not that the steaks were skimpy. I think our table alone accounted for most of one cow. A very tender cow, I might add.

Sides included fresh asparagus, grill-braised Brussels sprouts (a seasonal offering; with bacon!), potatoes, onion rings and more. Yes, we didn’t go away hungry. To our credit, we also didn’t leave much on the plates for any doggies.

Then our waiter, the devil, came around with the dessert tray. A slice of cheesecake, fresh raspberries drowning in Grand Marnier, and carrot cake magically appeared on our table, with spoons for everyone.

After more drinks and talk we rolled out of Morton’s, most of us with stunned expressions on our faces. That was one magnificent feast! (Thanks, Jaimie!) There’s no way I’ll ever go into another Morton’s, at least not before the next time…

Enjoy the (Big, Juicy Steaks) Heat!

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