I downed two and a half glasses of Pinot Grigio with an old friend before even looking at the menu at Julian Serrano. I think the prices were reasonable for the strip. But I’m not sure. The wine fell on an empty stomach and I was having a hard time concentrating. Marisa was fully sober, unable to join us for the pre-dinner drinking, and I think she handled the ordering. She’s good at it, so I’m sure she did fine. I should note here that when I say “old friend,” I mean “old girlfriend.”
Serrano serves tapas, and is just off the guest check-in at Aria, in the heart of the City Center complex. The space is refined while still having a nice, casual vibe. Which was great because when I say “old girlfriend,” I mean it was forever ago. She noted in a text earlier in the day that I’d last seen her was some twenty years previous. The concept of that alone is tough to get you’re head around—that you’re now at a point in your life when there are meaningful people in your history you haven’t seen for decades. Fucking decades. A full bottle of wine appeared, which may not have been the best idea for me, but I was happy to see it.
One of the tapas-sized dishes was dates wrapped in bacon, a classic that’s always welcome. It’s really pretty hard to go wrong with this one. If you’ve got access to decent bacon and dates all you really need to do is put them in contact with one another. That’s not to say that Julian Serrano serves easy dishes, I’m just saying that when you’re sitting across from someone you haven’t seen in that period of time, there’s a lot to think about There’s all this confluence–a moment in the past crashing in to the present. And pretty naturally, the conversation turns to the important points in the interim. So it’s all there in an instant: past, present, and everything in between.
Weird, even if the chorizo with mashed potato is pleasant and clever, but unremarkable. But it’s cool, too, because over the course of a couple of hours of conversation you can see so much: that this is undoubtedly the person you remember so well. And in comparing notes, you see that in ways the years have rewarded and abused you in similar ways. Different, of course, but similar.
The poblano peppers were good; a dish called, simply, “beef and cheese” serves yummy versions of both atop a thick slice of bread to very nice effect. And look, you can’t get to this age without enduring some rough shit. There are people who disappointed you or you disappointed them or maybe you disappointed each other or maybe you just don’t know. But you get to a point—a point you can reach at Julian Serrano—where you can say that it’s okay. That the trespasses happened. But you have people in your life now that make all that past manageable in your head.
Summing up Serrano. It’s the kind of place where an old girlfriend can captivate one’s wife with stories of her far-flung travels. And the old girlfriend can see that two decades later I have a wife who is nothing short of amazing. Best I can tell, the past and present can exisit happily at Julian Serrano. But it’s not even that really. It’s all in the present and everyone’s happy and well and that’s a damn good thing.
The pastry menu’s a little uninspired, but what the hell do you want from a single restaurant. Making a old friend a current one seems quite enough.