Monday, March 5, 2012

Cobras and Matadors

First off, tragedy upon tragedies, my very favorite, all time favorite restaurant, Cobras and Matadors, closed.  I just never expected that.  But when I drove past it the other day, I saw brown paper covering the windows and I just had a sinking feeling.  I was determined to go find out what was happening.  Thinking (hoping) maybe they were just renovating or something.  

So I marched in to the sandwich shop next door to it for investigative research.  Approaching the counter with fingers crossed, I asked the guy there what was going on with Cobras and Matadors.  He replied, all nonchalant and matter of fact, that it closed and that the taco place around the corner was going to take it over and start a restaurant version of itself.  Heart sunk.  That guy did not know who he was talking to and I may have welled up when I said, "…more…Cobras?"  And he sort of chuckled and was like, "Yep, no more Cobras."  

I mean, I lost a brethren with that one.  That was my place.  

Basically every friend I have ever had in LA has been there with me.  It's like, an introduction to me comes with an introduction to Cobras and Matadors.  It was my place to take anyone and awe them with the quaint bustling space and that delicious menu that had about a million tapas on it that were always shared and swooned over.  It was my place to show people and they were always impressed and it just spoke volumes about me and what I love, like small restaurants filled with people and noise and sharing food.  

And I knew about the secret extra bathroom. Where you had to walk through the kitchen and out into the alley and into a weird storage room.  And on my last birthday celebration there, the waitress overheard me saying that I didn't feel like dessert, but it would still be nice to have some sort of festive ending, like even a blob of whipped cream on a plate.  And the next thing I know she brings a plate over to our table with a candle in a blob of whipped cream on it and everyone is singing happy birthday and that was so wonderful!  

I don't really quite know how I'm going to get over this one.  That's a serious loss for me.  Crestfallen.  It was just there.  And I'm still registering the fact that I won't be able to get that food anymore.  And go there.  Memories, memories.  How does everything just leave us? 

So, I started to calm down and figure out how to best handle the news.  Well, first, I thought, I might as well be open and go to that little taqueria, La Escuela, and see what I might be in for once they create a restaurant.  Maybe that could be my new favorite place.  I've got to find one.  That is a necessary mission.

I dragged Bethany over there the first opportunity I had.  It's a really small place.  Cute but tiny.  And a little weird from the start.  Sort of stunted service.  Slow.  We couldn't quite figure out what was going on.  And it seemed like no one else could either.  

There were empty plates in front of us, which made us wonder how the food was going to get served. The decor was throwing us off too, not quite cohesive.  And then we overheard a waitress telling this guy about options not on the menu.  That got us a bit peeved.  Why didn't anyone tell us about the secret menu?  You know I'm a sucker for secret menus.   And I noticed too how there were so many pork options and we were smack dab in the middle of probably the largest Hasidic neighborhood in all of LA. So Bethany and I decided that it was the place that the local Jewish people go in plain clothes to get their pork on the sly, and that's how the place is staying in business.  We certainly had some good little laughs observing everything.  

Our food was actually really good, brought over in those little cardboard trays, to be transferred by us to our plates.  Weird.  We loved our tacos, though.  Mine were poblano peppers and cheese, so, simple, but perfect.  However, I'm not sure that could make up for the rest of it.  And then, when we had to pay, (minor detail), we were informed that it was cash only.  Which is fine, if we'd known.  But nothing told us that, from start to finish.  Not on the door, not on the menu, not on the table or counter or anything.  So that was a bother.  I mean, we'd already eaten.  What if we just didn't have a way to get cash?  Some people don't, I know some.  They still go to the bank.  

Someone needs to school La Escuela. 

Anyway, I am going to give the restaurant a chance once it opens, regardless.  But really, probably, I'll go to the restaurant just so that I can revisit the old Cobras space, in all honesty.  I've got to go into that room again!  I really wish I could have had a warning that my favorite restaurant was going to close.  To have been able to have one final meal there and make a toast to that old room rife with so many varied memories.  But, you know, that's really life for you.  We rarely get warned.

I remember it.  Again.  This is why we should do things when they are at our door.  As the closing of Cobras proved to me once again, nothing stays.  And that's how it goes.  We just don't know when we will lose things.  When things might just disappear on us, and then we find them gone, and then we wish.

The problem is, we always think we have time.  And we don't.  Or, at least, we might not.   But we do have now, we always have that.  So we've just got to do the things we want to do now.  And show our appreciation now.  And muster up whatever courage or time or energy it takes.  And love, love, love it all when it's here.  

So thank you Cobras and Matadors, for all of those nights with lovely people and bottles of wine and so much happiness and sharing of food.  You were good to me.  

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