Last night I went to dinner with a friend at a (formerly at least for now) favorite restaurant near the Riverside Plaza. I won't name it, but it is known for its fish dinners, fresh catches and noisy atmosphere. I have to say, trying not to sound snooty or judgmental, that I was disappointed overall.
Okay, two weeks in Rome, Florence, Portovenere and Venice, dining at a leisurely, undisturbed pace really did open my eyes to a way of dining I haven't experienced here in the land of "How's your food?", "Are you done with that?" and "Here's the check, don't feel pressured to pay-up and leave so we can turn the table and make more money." Nope, in all our experiences on the boot peninsula, we were treated like welcome guests, allowed to dine (not just eat) in peace and signal when we needed assistance...or the check.
Game changer. I guess that is all I can say. The American way seems to be "head 'em in, feed 'em up, and get 'em along little doggies." I may be overgeneralizing, but it seems to be more the rule that the exception. Thinking back to my recent dinner at Cafe Sevilla, I know it is possible to re-create some of the European joie de vie of fresh food prepared to order, being allowed to converse with dining companions without being monitored for our progress or satisfaction. If we are unhappy, you will know. I always wonder why the restaurant staff are so worried about the quality of what they are feeding you, they have to constantly check in.
Okay, off my high-horse. Every culture has its ways. But we can choose to vote with our feet. Yes, I guess I have been awoken to another way of eating out. Sadly, some of the eating out may be of my heart as I long for cenando la strada italiana,*
*dining the Italian way.