“Would you like it blue sir?” he asked.
“Blue?” I asked.
“Blue” he advised, nodding as if he approved of his own choice.
“Blue?” I pondered, “I’ve never heard of having it blue”
“Its very nice” he said, “very tender, it has to be.”
“Well normally I have it rare, “I mentioned.
“Yes, well blue is rarer than rare” he advised.
“Well I’ll have it rare then” I replied, “erm no, I mean blue, I’ll have it blue then, with chips”
“A very good choice sir”.
He was right, it was rarer than rare, it was also very quick, in the time that it had taken to discuss whether to have my 12oz rump steak rare or blue with the very camp waiter, the very camp chef, who was also the partner of the waiter, had flashed my steak under the grill for twenty seconds each side and slapped it on a plate with some chips.
By far the best steak that I’d ever had and ever had since, the two middle aged, balding, portly but very well dressed gay guys who owned The Schooner in Whitley Bay knew all about steak, they even served it with half a tomato so thats how I knew that they knew about steak, blue, so called because the steak has to be hung for weeks before its tender enough and when you cut it through its not red in the middle anymore its a dark blue, or even black – thats when you know its ready, flash it under the grill and eat, chips and half a tomato, sheer luxury in 1979 that was.
I was on my own that night, this was pre-wife days, days when I had money in the bank and it was all mine, days when the company was paying for my hotel and breakfast, days when ALL of my monthly salary was available for me to spend as I pleased and one night I happened perchance to stroll past The Schooner and think that it would be a fine idea to have steak, with chips and half a tomato, how decadent.
The restaurant was empty, dimly lit as though inside the salon of an old sailing ship, fishing nets on the ceiling, plastic starfish and crabs dangling from the nets, those coloured glass globes that they’d have you believe are attached to fishing nets as marker buoys tied dangling to the wall, maroon tablecloths and completely devoid of customers other than myself, and the two gay owners, outwardly camp in a way that wasn’t really the done thing in Whitley Bay in 1979 but very pleasant with it, and they knew all about steak, which was a good thing really for I had no other reason to be in there at all, no, not even curious.
“Would you like some wine” he asked.
“Erm, have you got beer” I asked.
“Well yes, but we’ve just taken delivery of a new range of wine and its very nice”
“Hmm, well I’ll have a glass then” I replied.
“Well actually, you have to buy the carafe” he said.
“Whats a carafe?” I asked for this was 1979 don’t forget.
His partner came out of the kitchen carrying what I thought was a hospital bed pan, well not so much a bed pan but one of those wide necked bottles that they give men when they are bed bound, it being possible for men to piss in a wide mouth bottle even when bed bound – thats another thing that men can do better than women.
“Its a full bottle” I exclaimed, “I couldn’t possibly…”
“We’ll share it with you” they replied, “and just charge you for the glass”
Well you couldn’t argue with that and so they brought three glasses to the table and we sat there talking about blue steak and the Paul Masson Californian Wine Company until I was quite pissed and ready to pay the bill, which was expensive enough to not want to do this every night but worth it for discovering blue steak, Paul Masson Wine and the company of gay men when they definitely aren’t on the pull, no, not even curious.