Date With a Brit at the Biltmore

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You've undoubtedly heard the expression, "Things aren't always as they seem," and in the case of my latest date -- the second one filmed for the viewing pleasure of some major television network executives--no truer words could've fit the experience.

Producers came to town yet again to film their Miami dating point gal (AKA me). They shot footage of palm trees, pool views, and the like -- as well as my friends and I discussing blind dates and suitable restaurants.
Then came the blind date.

The day began with casual chatter and brunch at Angelique Euro Café, one of my favorite neighborhood stops. Over tortillas Catalanas with wild mushrooms and manchego and deliciously garlic-and-parmesan dressed frites, my three buddies and I decided Sugarcane would be fun.Or Escopazzo is intimate, and the food is consistently delish. Neither place would be a time-waster, even if your date was a disappointment.

Then there's Cascade, the poolside restaurant at The Biltmore. It has relaxing outdoor ambiance and a lack of general distractions. That was definitely the choice.

So I set up the date, and started the blind adventure.

By the time we arrived and got settled in, the sun and temperature were both starting to drop. The anticipation of meeting Mr. Blind Date in front of a camera and crew gave me more reason to shiver than the cool night air. When the moment finally arrived and the cameraman turned away for a second, I did a quick little prayer: "Lord, please don't let this guy be a douchebag."

Then, I heard "Hello, Riki" in what sounded like a British accent. I looked up to find a tall, handsome gent and I sighed with relief. Maybe this wouldn't go badly after all.

Within moments, my date had ordered some hot tea, offered to wrap me in his "jumper" (that's Brit talk for "sweater"), and tried to gauge what selections on the menu would most please me (we worked with Fontana's menu at this point because Cascade's was a little too lunch-y for our sunset meal).

Soon, I was charmed with his darling lilt and tales of his worldly travels. This guy really seemed to have his shit together. So much so that I started feeling a little bad about myself. He had founded an organization in Sri Lanka to educate children. He had followed Anthony Robbins around for years soaking up inspiration. Heck, the guy even walked on fiery coals in bare feet and admitted to having had a colonic or two. Why hadn't I become a lobbyist for reproductive rights or founded some charity that saved sea otters? Why hadn't I spent more time on a spiritual quest than eating? And why didn't I know where the heck Sri Lanka was?

Then our server arrived with a Tuscan melon and proscuitto di Parma appetizer ($18) and a bowl of minestrone ($6), which my date sweetly offered to split. Next came my plate containing two pieces of breaded veal big enough to feed a party of four ($25) and his entree, a prime filet mignon drizzled with a Barolo sauce ($30), which seemed tiny in comparison. Honestly I was so intrigued by him that I didn't approach the food with my usual critical palate. I recall taking sips of a spicy passion fruit caipirinha that produced such warmth in my body that I swear my temperature rose a few degrees.

Throughout it all, he was asking me just the right questions like, "What are your dreams for life?" and not "Why haven't you ever been married?" and making me feel he was generally interested in my responses. I ate it up. I even forgave him for staring at the waitresses' pronounced cleavage when I realized he was just reading her nametag so he could address her properly. And he paid the bill so quickly that I don't even remember it landing on the table. As far as first dates go, this guy was starting to rank up there with royalty.

However, it's not entirely fair of me to rate Fontana/Cascade for my Short Order readership, since our dining experience was customized to accommodate the shoot. Suffice it to say the food scored high with the "talent" and the crew, the servers tripped over themselves to keep us happy, and I can't help thinking that I should install a watercooler filled with that cayenne-peppery, but sweet caipirinha concoction in my home kitchen to keep me happy at all times.

Days later, Blue Blood and I went out on a second date and then a third date. But the more time I spent with him, the more I started realizing his fantastic life wasn't really so magical. Sri Lanka, it turns out, is a Third World country, and he maintains his primary residence there. Not exactly the perfect home for a gourmand. Hanging out with Robbins, I discovered, involves a hell of a lot of travel and not much downtime. And -- here's the kicker -- it turns out the Brit was still stuck on his ex-fiancee.

The irony of the situation really struck me. We were filmed on the first date for a reality show, but the reality of who he was never made it to tape. In the end, it seems the audience would be blinded because I discovered the frayed edges after the cameras were long gone. But all's well in my world--I got a few good meals out of the deal and an awakening for no extra charge.

Biltmore/Brit Dating Rating

Food: 4/5
Hip Factor: 2/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Cost: 3/5
Date: 3
Overall: 3

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