Restaurant at the end of the Universe

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Yesterday, for my forty-second birthday, my parents treated me to dinner at the Restaurant at the End of The Universe. I’ve wanted to go since I was a kid. Milliways, of course, is the Restaurant at the End of The Universe, an extraordinary tour de force of son et lumiere and haute cuisine on an island electromagnetically anchored just a half-hour before the heat-death of the Universe.

And that’s where we had lunch yesterday. For my forty-second birthday.

To say that this is impossible is to sort of miss the point. There are many things about Milliways that are impossible — its physical and temporal locations, to name two. The astronomical cost of the food and drink, for another. The discreet, almost unmarked, but very stylish entrance on a side street in New York City leading directly into a startling display of tourists, celebrities you’ve never heard of, and a remarkable staff of waiters, busbeings, hosts and hostesses. The sommelier speaks Bocce. Fluently. Not like it’s a second language to him.

Drinks— a pan galactic gargle blaster for me, swirling and firey like a supernova.

The first course? Jamon, or ham, from two completely different worlds: one lean and red, formerly thick muscle; the other pink and beribboned with pure white fat, artfully arranged on slate — paired, through the generosity of my co-diners, with a wild mushroom soup and a tarte of bacon and creme fraiche. Second course: a stew of sorts, made with bacon and shrimp, and a froth of cream and sea urchin from some mysterious ocean on an enigmatic planet. My traveling companions had duck — which was very well-behaved as it introduced itself; and a slice of tenderloin from a genteel cow who nevertheless insisted on being paired with a purée of eggplant.

Dessert: our waiter, never having officially determined who the birthday being was, brought us four desserts: a slice of chocolate tart so elegantly laid out on a plate, it looked more like the seal of an angelic being than a food. A chilled cheesecake served with strawberries and ice cream, in which the cheesecake was so artfully served that it was impossible to tell what was cake and what was ice cream until plunging one’s spoon in. Tiny cookies from a destroyed culture on some distant planet orbiting a third-rate sun, served with dipping sauces made of ice cream, fruit, and burnt sugar. And a birthday “cake” consisting of three thin layers of chocolate, each the thickness of a sheet of paper, with pâtés of pistachio, mango, and caramel holding them together. A single raspberry the color of a dying sun supporting a single candle.

An impossible meal, in an impossible place, with loving friends: life, the universe…

Everything.

Welcome in, 42.

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