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So what could possibly be more natural than for a confused Norwegian, who gets solitarily and thoroughly “Lost in the Supermarket” (The Clash, 1979) at Palisades Mall in West Nyack, New York, than having a “Downunder” steak dinner at the Outback Steakhouse?
The choice of name makes perfect sense, as Nyack is just a few hundred miles south-west of Sydney … if you take into account that the Sydney in question is a smallish place in Nova Scotia (there really is one, honest). Never heard of it before, but then again, three months ago I hadn’t heard about Nyack either. One learns.
While on visit last week to friends in Congers, near Nyack, my old Nikon (the D40X), a faithful and trusted companion of five years, suddenly retired itself (it is not entirely unlikely that a clumsy accident a couple of days earlier involving an airplane, a wee bit of turbulence, someone’s elbow and a cup of tea may have played some part in this), and I needed an emergency replacement, like right now. The idea of spending a week in and around New York City without a half-decent picture-taking device on hand simply seemed unbearable.
According to local intel, the second biggest mall in USA was within a few stone throws’ distance (actual number depending on your throwing arm) from the hotel where I stayed, which seemed like a decent location for a camera hunt. Half an hour’s walk later, in summer temperatures remarkably well fit for dehydrating a not quite so fit Norwegian, I took a dive into an electronics shop and, after a few moments’ careful but hurried consideration, took possession of the cheapest compact camera they had in stock, a Canon PowerShot A4000 IS, paid and left, and promptly found out that, although I had a memory card primed and ready for action, digital cameras nowadays evidently come with batteries completely free of charge … which meant that I’d have to charge it first before I would be able to use the camera. Hence the iPhone-ness of the photos featured in this blog post. My apologies.
What with this, that and the other, my mourning grief over losing the Nikon at such an untimely, uh, time, I wandered restlessly from store to store in what may well be the second largest mall in USA, looking for consolation and, after I had wandered quite a lot, something to fill an increasingly empty stomach which was to a greater and greater degree trying to make me aware of the fact. In other words, I was somewhat peckish. “Peckish, sir?” Yes, well, hungry like. “Ah, hungry?” In a nutshell! But I digress, as I often do. Where was I? Oh yes!
Well familiar with a broad assortment of Monty Python sketches I made sure to avoid any cheese shops, of which I saw none anyway, and made for the food courts and restaurants, aimed like a Geiger counter for the radiation of something tasty and fulfilling. Not satisfied with the idea of popping my head into the first available place, I scanned [insert crackling noise of Geiger counter here] the mall from end to other before making my selection. And my choice fell on the very last place that I found.
Now, to be blunt, the only things that seemed at all Australian to me about the place is the name, bits of the decor and the names on the menu. Not a single Aussie accent, not as much as a “Crikey” or “G’day mate!” was to be heard. To be honest, though, I can’t say that I was at all disappointed. It really is a nice place with a pleasant atmosphere, good assortment of tables for singles, pairs and groups, and the food is great.
I went for the Sirloin with Wild Mushroom Sauce, medium done, which I didn’t regret for a second, and Chocolate Thunder from Down Under for dessert, which despite being utterly delicious I was unable to finish … simply because I was full.
Waitress Nicky solemnly swore she would make sure I didn’t starve, at least not there, and definitely not on her watch, and she did a great job.
Curiously, one thing that I noticed on my stay in New York is that there’s something really unnerving about certain waiters who come back to your table again and again, almost sneaking up on you, asking in a low voice and a distressingly worried tone, “Are you all right, sir?”, as if the opposite was expected to be more likely.
Nicky did no such thing. If anything she was as bright and cheerful as a rainbow and gave me the best attention any diner could wish for. Like a ballet dancer she hovered constantly nearby on the lookout for anything she could do to make my meal a more pleasant one. Bonus points for bringing me a new drink, unasked, almost before I even noticed myself that my glass was empty.
She is also the first person to say “yes” when I’ve asked if I could take a picture and put it on my blog. Thank you very much, Nicky 🙂