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The Jewel of the Jewel

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue.

Glisten is known as the “Jewel of the Marches” and this exclusive restaurant located above the shopping complex in Banfi Starport is surely it’s brightest facet.

Most of the clientele are human, except for the occasional Aslan businesswoman. The Duchess Muktheswara has a table reserved at all times and makes frequent use of it.

The dress code is formal and exotic, ranging from suits and gowns of both the simplest and the most elaborate designs, and reproducing and echoing styles from archaic to current, all the way to droid-applied skin-paint outfits scarcely less impressive for their precision and elegance.

Clientele arrive via wall-tram or chauffeured electric car and give their names to a maître d’, then are admitted to an elevator with a single glowing jewel in lieu of floor buttons. Pressing it will close the door, activate a simple gravity compensator, and hurl the car several dozen floors to the outer shell of the starport. The diners are greeted by name and led past digital artwork (created and wiped in real-time) and shown directly to their table.

The ceiling is transparent steel with a non-reflective coating which enhances the illusion that there is nothing overhead but the stars themselves. Lighting is subdued, and tables are spaced comfortably with noise dampeners to ensure that even enthusiastic conversation nearby is not disturbing or intelligible.

The tabletops are datapads, where the sommelier appears to discuss vintages and planets of origin and to take beverage orders. A chef replaces the sommelier to discuss the huge variety of appetizers, and to offer entree specialties and discuss preparation details. Preferences and allergy data are tagged and saved for automatic use on any subsequent visit. Touching the edge of the table is answered immediately by staff who dispatch servers. A hovering droid brings warm rolls and refills drinks whenever diners’ attention is elsewhere.

The menu has meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables from throughout the Imperium and beyond, and countless styles of preparation are available. Some of the vegetables are grown in the hydroponic farms in the station but everything else is imported fresh (many of the animals are brought in cryogenic sleep and revived shortly before meal preparation).

Of course, a rich selection of desserts is available. The house specialty is Jellied Smoke, which is prepared at the table: a tray of delicate sculptures is brought out, each a different translucent color. A flame is touched to each and they burst into what appear to be bite-sized clouds of colored smoke, although the “smoke” doesn’t drift away. Closer inspection reveals each to be a mass of extremely fine strands. The moment one is placed inside the mouth, it melts away almost instantly, leaving behind a powerful but transient burst of flavor; exotic fruits expertly combined into unique and wonderful tastes and aftertastes. Each color is a different blend. Some other restaurants have offered “Glisten Jellied Smoke” which turns out to be something like fruit-flavored cotton candy, but the original (only available here) is unmatched and unforgettable.

The restrooms are an experience in themselves. No sinks or stalls are visible, only a single exposed toilet. When one approaches it, the wall behind opens and the toilet/bidet retracts into a small chamber and another extends out for the next user. Once inside, the wall slides shut providing privacy, then all sides light up with holographic images. One could suddenly be sitting on a crowded sidewalk, or among of pride of lions, or underwater surrounded by sharks. The scenes are initially chosen at random but can be selected by touching the wall. Afterward, the “sink” turns out to be a section of wall that turns into a waterfall when one’s hand nears it, and withdrawing causes vortices of hot, dry air to converge on the wet appendages from several directions.

The restaurant has a club attached called “J-Squared”. Talent from throughout the sector appears here, and the drinks range from the traditional to exotic jellied suspensions which can be puzzling to consume (especially after the first). Booths can be raised into fitted dimples in the roof, isolating the party upon request and providing an unparalleled view of the Spinward Marches.

While reservations are mandatory, the premium prices ensure that tables are normally available with a single day’s notice. If you find yourself near Glisten and can afford it, the Jewel of the Jewel is an experience not to be missed.