Love Letter to Restaurants
MY DEAREST RESTAURANTS,
I would like to start with an apology. For years, I took you for granted. How silly to think I could merely pop in whenever it suited me. That you would always be there for me. What a fool I was.
Just days before the lockdown last spring, I recall friends asking if my husband and I would like to meet for an impromptu dinner at a neighborhood joint. I was tired from a busy work week and declined.
Oh, how I regret this decision. For months after that, I mostly lived without you — relegated only to take-out and delivery. Those meals were a welcome break from the constant cycle of loading and unloading the dishwasher — not to mention the actual cooking. Nevertheless, I missed the experience of dining out — of being in the moment. I took for granted the energy that surrounded me as I devoured a plate of pasta in a roomful of perfect strangers.
I know people often consider universities, schools and religious institutions to be the cornerstones of our communities. And while those are undoubtedly crucial, after the year we just had, I would add restaurants to that list.
Restaurants are where we go to meet friends and business associates. It’s where we take a first date. And of course, we celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries at our favorite spots.
But my dear restaurants, it wasn’t only the big and celebratory dinners I longed for. I missed the tiny and seemingly trivial experiences that add up to something wondrous.
I missed breadbaskets.
I missed being greeted at the door, walking beside the host with enthusiastic anticipation. Where would we be seated? Would we get the coveted window table? A table near the bar?
I missed casually striking up a conversation with complete strangers while we waited for a table. I missed eating at the bar — when the bartender lays down a folded cloth napkin, signaling the imminent arrival of dinner.
I missed the moment the door opens, and a rush of warm and humid South Florida air wafts past, beckoning a new arrival.
And while I love to try new places and new foods, I also cherish being a regular. When a server knows how I take my coffee or when I am greeted by name — well, that counts for a lot.
Let’s face it, we all like to feel special from time to time. And perhaps no effort accomplishes that as well as friendly service at a neighborhood eatery.
I am a superstitious person, so I don’t want to jinx anything — but as we find ourselves hopefully on the verge of some semblance of normalcy — I, for one, cannot wait to simply eat out whenever the mood strikes. A relaxing or even raucous Saturday night dinner girds me for the week ahead. And I’ve missed it all, from the humble trip to the classic diner for scrambled eggs, toast and coffee all the way to lobster fra diavolo and everything in between. Just as a delicious home-cooked dinner connects us with family and friends, a meal at a restaurant connects us to our community. We are not only what we eat; we are also where we eat.
All my love,
Consult our monthly dining guide. Read the current issue online here. Click on the current issue on the right for the most current dining options in our area.