Man, Oh Manwich

Bite Me's been blowin' in the wind since hittin' Phoenix from Lotusland. Cruising up and down Camelback, Central and Scottsdale Road, looking for hot restaurant spots -- the kind that will let her accost diners as they emerge from their repasts. (Look, you idiots, it's free publicity for your divine dives, so grin and bear it when Bite Me and her sidekick, photog Emily Piraino, bare all on your doorstep.) Bite Me's, of course, taken recommendations on where to go from her few Phoenician friends, and from her fellow schlubs at New Times, who, like her, spend far too much time in fast-food joints and cheap Mexican restaurants. Taco Bell, anyone?! What she's looking for are the scenes, places where cool people (young and old) gather to stuff their faces and destroy their livers, but what she's gotten are the following: a transvestite bar that also serves tacos and enchiladas. (Thanks a lot for that one, ya freak! Bite Me's plastic fork snapped in two when she tried to cut off a chunk of her still-mostly-frozen meal. And the green sauce was of questionable origin.). A sushi restaurant that won't allow patrons to take home what they're too full to finish. ("So sorry, but food go bad on way home. Could get sued." Good to know! And that probably explained Bite Me's stomachache.) Bahama Breeze, which was billed as catering to a lot of studly young guys and bodacious babes. (Sure, if you define same as pissed-off paunchy late-thirtysomethings in golf shirts, pale socks and brown loafers and big-assed, bottle-blond betties sportin' black pants suits and garish makeup.)

But to the rescue was Bite Me's homo pal, Hal, who had the good taste to steer her to beef-eaters paradise Durant's last week. (Why is it that fairies have such style? Hal likes to half-quip: "Straights have children, gays have taste.") This time, he took her to his fave haunt, My Florist, to sample the joint's enormously edible sandwiches, salads and fine wines. (Hal bragged about the fancy chef at the place, but this galloping gal had to proclaim: A freakin' chef at a glorified Quizno's; must be why they charge nine bucks American for a peanut-and-jelly.) My Florist (natch) used to peddle petals exclusively, before it became mostly a bakery and then a bakery/restaurant.

Upon entering from the dingy sidewalk along McDowell, Bite Me was struck by the airy, artful decor at the eatery. There's even a swanky grand piano, at which music is put on beginning at 6:30 Monday through Saturday nights and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. A place for Atkins dieters, this ain't. There're carbs galore. Bite Me decided on the turkey and Brie on pumpernickel. It arrived with a perfectly dressed salad that just about blew her mind. The pumpernickel was thick and hot from the oven, and the turkey was covered with oozing cheese, watercress and some cranberry concoction. Hal had the aforementioned P&B lunchbox special and couldn't stop licking his fingers. Outside, Bite Me realized that her friend wasn't frequenting My Florist just for the food. Not that everybody in the place was gay, but out came a night train of buffed guy flesh in tight dungarees. Man, oh manwich!

Robert Dowles and Tony Evanson

Party-planning business owner and "clean-up boy"

Bite Me: So what kind of parties do you throw?

RD: All sorts. Basically we do staffing and stuff.

Bite Me: Did you plan that party? (Bite Me points to a monstrous group of pretty men suckin' down sandwiches at a long table.)

RD: We do them at private homes.

Bite Me: So are you with that big group? What kind of group is it? (If Bite Me's gaydar is still in proper working order, she'd say My Florist ain't no place for homophobes.)

RD: Yeah. Oh, we're just all friends hangin' out, enjoying the music.

Bite Me: I won't be able to fill a table at my funeral. Lucky you. So, what's your favorite party to plan?

RD: Big bashes! Theme parties. Military parties, where everybody dresses up and wears dog tags.

Bite Me: That sounds hot! I just saw Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck on video, and damn, he looked hot in that uniform! What'd you guys eat here tonight?

RD: I had the French onion soup, actually.

TE: Actually, I'm feeling kind of sick. That's why I'm leaving.

Bite Me: I'll be real quick, then, I promise. So what do you do for a living?

TE: I work for Robert right now; just moved here from Michigan. (Mock sadness.) I'm a clean-up boy.

Bite Me: Oh, honey, that's the most important job. So how do you two know each other?

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