TNT Diner

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When the working day is done, critics just want to have fun

Post by News Tribune Staff on March 24, 2008 at 10:24 am | No Comments »
March 24, 2008 10:24 am

Someone asked me: Do you ever eat out for fun? Do you eat out without being a critic?

I tried that Saturday night. It didn’t work.

It was my night off. I was battling fever and aches. I craved fried chicken. I’d promised my bosses that I’d be on budget hiatus through the end of the month. I was spending my own money.

One of the owners of the restaurant dropped by my table to tell me that the chef is now asking his grass-fed beef supplier to cut more fat into their hamburger. (In a fog of fever, I recalled writing that this restaurant’s burgers were lean to the point of flavorless). Then she swung by my table to show me a cocktail the bartender had just concocted. Then the bartender delivered three cocktails for me to check out.

Do you ever eat out for fun? Do you eat out without being a critic?

Maybe. Can you recommend a good restaurant in Seattle? I was up there on my day off, at Quinn’s on Capital Hill. I enjoyed a bowl of white-bean soup with preserved lemon, goat cheese and parsley pesto. I savored a pork-sausage sandwich on a baguette with meat-studded sauerkraut. (I was also tickled pink that Quinn’s, a “gastro pub,” ignores IPA in this neck of the woods.)

After I ate lunch, I gave the bartender my credit card. He returned, with the card and the receipt. “Thank you, Mr. Murrieta,” he said. I was just another guy having lunch. It felt good.

(Had I been working, I would have scribbled the following in my notebook: bartender needs shower & shave; no table service — sitting @ table/returning to bar to order food bad; bottles of tap water on every table — nice; mmmm, rabbit pate…)

But back to Saturday night.

Do you ever eat out for fun? Do you eat out without being a critic?

I chatted with the restaurant owner, to be polite. I sipped the cocktails, to be polite. On my way out, I thanked the bartender and told him not to be offended by the mostly-full glasses I’d left on the table, along with an unfinished (and unordered) toast-and-dip appetizer the owner had delivered earlier.

I enjoyed everything I bought and paid for that night. Despite the good company (I BYO’d my own date), despite the good food (the smaller the chicken, the sweeter the meat!), I didn’t have fun.

Do you ever eat out for fun? Do you eat out without being a critic?

Sometimes I want to be the one to eat in the sun. Sometimes I just want to have fun.

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