"A long memory can drive a man crazy."
-- Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half

Sunday, December 20, 2020

What's Your Favorite Restaurant?

      Our local news website just came out with a list of favorite restaurants in our town. The timing of this "favorites" list seems odd to me, since by and large people aren't going to restaurants anymore.

     A lot of people enjoyed dining outdoors throughout spring, summer and fall. Around here, indoor dining was banned for a while, then restricted to 50% capacity. Now indoor dining is banned again, through Jan. 4, since Pennsylvania is currently reporting the highest number of Covid deaths since the pandemic began (although somehow, some restaurants are still open).

     During the summer months outdoor dining thrived. Our town council closed a couple of downtown streets on weekend nights, and tables were set out along the sidewalk, people strolling up and down the street. Some intrepid diners were seen outside as recently as last week, bundled in coats and huddled under gas-fired heaters.

     When was the last time you went to a restaurant? B and I have been cautious. We have not been to a restaurant since . . . well, I can't remember exactly. We got home from South Carolina at the beginning of March just as the pandemic began. I remember I went to my last table tennis session on Mon. March 9. We had out last Senior Learning class on Fri. March 13.

     What I don't remember is whether we went to a restaurant after we came home. Probably not, since we were already getting scared, and we'd probably had our fill of restaurant meals during our February vacation. So I'm guessing our last restaurant was the seafood place on the South Carolina beach at the end of February.

     Since then our favorite restaurant meal has been take-out. We've done Chinese a couple of times. We went to a chicken place once. But our go-to is pizza. Once a week. Our favorite is mushrooms, onions and peppers.

     So according to the website survey the favorite local eatery is an Italian restaurant -- not our pizza place located behind the 7-Eleven, but an expensive Italian restaurant in town. A brew pub came in second. Third was a downtown bistro with excellent food that happens to be B's favorite restaurant.

     Fourth position was taken by another Italian place -- not as fancy as the other restaurant, but one that offers live music two or three times a week. And fifth most popular? The local diner.

     My favorite didn't make the list. It's a plain old American restaurant. The food is decent, nothing special, but it has a fantastic outdoor patio with a view of the street where we like to lounge in the summer and watch the world go by.

     I guess I'm not much of a connoisseur. To me the ambience is more important than the food. Except for Japanese. I like sushi, but I don't want cheap sushi, so there's only one Japanese restaurant I'll go to. Otherwise, I want decent food. But it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. 

     I'm waxing nostalgic about restaurants because I miss them so much. Maybe that's the method behind the local website's madness -- why they did this survey now. We miss our restaurants, and look forward to a new thriving restaurant scene come spring.

28 comments:

gigi-hawaii said...

I don't dine in restaurants, but do buy take out food frequently.

Tabor said...

WE dined outside of a local beer restaurant in November. It was lovely. We do try to order take-out weekly just to keep our local restaurants surviving.

Olga said...

Restaurants kind of dropped off my radar for a while but lately I have been fantasizing about going out to eat. I am sure the reality under restrictions would not live up to the fantasy though.

Rian said...

We have never eaten out a lot... but did use to get together with our kids for supper at an Italian restaurant maybe once a month. And if I had to pick a favorite restaurant, it would be The Gristmill on the Guadalupe River in Gruene, TX. - food is good, atmosphere as a large lodge with huge windows and porches open to the river is great! But we haven't been to a restaurant or even done take-out since last January. We do miss What-a-burgers and Pop-eye's chicken...

ApacheDug said...

My favorite place used to be a second home to me (until I developed this jaw disorder in 2017). The “Rusty Nail”, a small sit-down restaurant in my neighborhood that’s been there since the dawn of time, can seat around 25—but that’s before the pandemic as people were packed in there together like sardines. When I first moved to this neighborhood nearly 30 years ago, my grandmother was still alive, came up to visit me one Sunday with my sister and we went to dinner there. After studying the menu for 10 minutes, Grandma asked the waitress “I don’t see liver & onions on here... do you serve it?” The waitress said no. Grandma said “Can you ask the cook?” The cook was the owner, who came out of the kitchen to see who asked for it and told Grandma he’d be happy to make it for her. It’s been take-out only for months now, I sure hope ol’ Rusty can get back to normal real soon.

Wisewebwoman said...

Being out here on the Edge our restaurants are still open albeit with tables spread wide apart and many pivoting to curb pick up.

My favourites are Moroccan, a Korean and Indian. And Daughter and I frequent a really good brunch spot for our eggs bennie.

XO
WWW

Miss Merry said...

Friday, February 28, 2020. We had visited my mother-in-law in the hospital in a neighboring town and stopped at the Red Lobster down the street since our favorite hometown diner would be done serving their Friday Fish Fry by the time we got back to town. We splurged on an appetizer and I had a cocktail. Gosh, I wish we had ordered dessert. Exactly one week later I was in the trauma center with a displaced spiral of the humerus, I fell while washing dishes, somehow. And then the day after surgery the next Thursday, our local hospital admitted their first covid patient. It's really not worth doing a pickup since most our town does not have much to offer and if we drive out of town, I am going to have to reheat it once we get home. Our treat is Dominos pizza which will deliver to a table on our front porch. I think I miss eating in restaurants the most.

Tom said...

Merry, I have a Red Lobster story ... gonna put it in my queue for January posts. And Doug, I too hope Rusty can get back to normal real soon, along with all the other great chefs and characters that make the restaurant world so interesting and appealing.

Martha said...

I can't even remember the last restaurant I was in, it was definitely prior to March. I love to cook so we rarely go to restaurants except for birthdays or special occasions. This is definitely a strange time for your town to come out with that list.

Gail, northern California said...

I'm sure there's a limit to the numbers of words or characters in your comment section but I wrote "A love letter to all the restaurants...." and asked the local newspaper to print it in their Letters to the Editor section. My hope was that they would begin to understand how much they are missed and signed off as "The Wistful Diner".

DJan said...

I ate breakfast in a local diner before it was all stopped again because of the second spike. And lately I've been getting more and more unwilling to eat out. For Thanksgiving we ordered our meal and picked it up. I don't know what we'll do for Christmas. Probably nothing. I do like Thai food, though. :-)

carol cassara said...

I really miss restaurants ... I have been cooking most days past couple months. When I got to my 2nd home in Western New York in August things were great and we could dine outside and even indoors. I did a little of that and enjoyed it but now that's not possible. even if I Could I wouldn't take the chance. We use stored so little but we live out a bit and delivery opportunities are sparse here. And sometimes we just don't wanna go out in the snow to pick up. So I cook

Meryl Baer said...

Our town also went all out with outside dining spring, summer, and fall. A few places still have tables outdoors with heaters, but with the recent spike we are not eating out, even on a nice sunny day. We do take-out and delivery occasionally - local places are very accommodating, calling to say they're on the way, leaving food on porches, providing all the extras (spices, packets of sauces, etc.). They want to be in business when this craziness ends. I cook more than ever, and my dishwasher has never been so busy!

Laurie Stone said...

My son is a cook in a restaurant and he says they're all take-out. Until spring, that's what's keeping eateries alive, thank God.

Anonymous said...

My sister and I understood that we wouldn't be able to see each other through the winter so we made the most of the good weather and at lunch on a lot of restaurant patios and in parks. The last patio was a sunny day in November, with a fireplace and heaters. We're glad we did it even though it was a little cold. So now I'm back to just take out, and I'm grateful for it. I miss family the most, restaurants second. I do enjoy cooking but curbside groceries make keeping the pantry stocked tricky.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I was supposed to go to a really nice restaurant with my daughter, which was serving outside and then LA locked down the restaurants. Pasadena didn't so we went to one there and everyone was being careful to be compliant. We ate on the sidewalk with our table distanced from others. Then everything got shut down so we're back to an occasional takeout but have been mostly cooking at home. I want to support local restaurants as much as I can or there won't be any more left standing. However, I don't want to get sick either so let's hope the vaccine works.

Anonymous said...

>>The timing of this "favorites" list seems odd to me<<

Get real. It's a scheme to drum up interest in their businesses, if they still exist when people eat out again.

Rita said...

Yes, golden words. You are a great writer.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

In the two years since we've been down here, we've searched high and low for a good Chinese restaurant. So disappointing that such a diverse area as Orlando has bland Chinese food. Blech. But then a pandemic came and we starting trying different delivery services and finally, we found one! We've been ordering from there almost weekly since we found it.

Easin' Along said...

Tom,
My wife and I spent about six months traveling in our RV this year, and I can't remember eating out one time. We even visited our favorite South Carolina Beach town and only ordered take-out shrimp bisque (wonderful). I dream about visiting my favorite Barbecue and Mexican restaurants, and hope they'll hold on until this plague subsides. Enjoy your pizza and have a wonderful holiday season. Joe in TN

Terra said...

Here in California we are in lockdown, although that changes back and forth, like a yo yo. I have been to one restaurant since March, outdoor dining only, had crab cakes at our harbor. I am sad for all the restaurant owners and workers, tough times. I did read one shocking thing, more people in San Francisco have died of opioid overdose than of Covid, thus far this year. Challenging times.

Linda Myers said...

Just as an FYI, the Olli program in Tucson pivoted to Zoom. This spring there are 150 class offerings, and they can be taken from anywhere. Let me know if you'd like more information.

Our favorite restaurants are still curbside pickup. One of our very favorites was a buffet, Sweet Tomatoes. A great place to meet a friend for lunch. They have closed down permanently. I haven't often been sad during this pandemic, but that was one time.

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Kevin in Virginia said...

These stories crack me up. The last evening Miss Kate and I went out to dinner was Valentine's Day - dinner then a play at the Arena Stage in DC. Cold, rainy night. As we were eating dinner, we heard the crash of the coat rack falling onto the wet floor. We later recovered our sodden coats and trudged to the play, which was excellent. But as we walked the few blocks to the theater I thought to myself, "please spare us another dinner out this year." From my lips to G-d's ears, apparently. We humans are so small...and so easily discouraged. Are we not all looking forward to the New Year with great hope!

Kay said...

We only do take-out these days. The last time we were at a restaurant was in Illinois at Chicago's Portillo's in February of last year.

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