You Gotta Try…

“RG, are those your friends sitting on 72?” asked one of the servers.

“Yep, in from Philly for the weekend,” I said, shoving menus into the slots behind the podium. We have hired two hosts, and my multiple weekly doubles are numbered, but not quite over.

“Are you getting off early to be with them?” he asked.

“I’m outta here in five,” I told him, gathering up paperwork to complete in the office before I left.

“So, where are you taking them to eat?”

The fact that my friends had been sitting on 72 for an hour and a half eating appetizers and entrees did not, in the server’s mind, make this a silly question.

“Well, they just ate, so…”

“No, you gotta take them to this place I just tried. It’s not that far.”

This is what I love about the people I work with. It doesn’t matter what the occasion or who I’m with or who is coming to visit, to a person, everyone wants to tell me where to eat. Their reasons for their allegiance to their “gotta try” places are varied–they used to be a server at a particular place, they know the GM somewhere, they know the owner of another spot, they dated the bartender at a place where the food is so-so but the drinks are awesome, they still date the bartender and I should try the burgers because they are actually good, they are a regular at a cool place in the next beach town up the road, so ask for Mike and “he’ll hook you up.”

When I casually mentioned to one of the managers that I might have a “date”–an actual make-plans-ahead-of-time-pick-you-up-for-dinner date–his first response was not, “That’s great, RG!” Rather, it was, “And you’re eating where?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think he said something about a new place at the beach, but…”

“You know what?” he interrupted. “If I’m taking out a girl I am trying to impress–he’s trying to impress you, right–then I would go to…” and he mentioned a place I had no clue about.

“No, not there,” chimed in one of the servers. “RG, here’s where you go,” and he proceeded to describe a wine bar-type spot, at least I think that’s what it was.

“Yeah, well, maybe I’d go there,” said another server who had wandered over to join in the dinner talk. “But you know that place up north on Federal? I think she’d like that better. Great seafood.”

I was now rendered invisible.

“You always like that place, but for a first date don’t you think they should sit outside on the water or something? Besides, I also know exactly where the best stone crab is, and RG wants to try it again, don’t you?” asked the first server, not expecting an answer from me at all.

As I watched and listened to this exchange, I was struck by several things:

* Because restaurant people are always hungry, they constantly talk about the ultimate meals they hope to someday have or the one they had last week.

* My future dinner date had now turned into a top-this food competition among my coworkers. And I laughed at the image of my “telling” my date, “Yeah, so here’s the deal. We eat at blah blah cafe because Jeff says so. Got it?”

* I found it kind of sweet the way they had taken on the “dinner” part of my date.

Thanks to a few of their suggestions over the past few months, I have enjoyed brunch at Aruba in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (where one friend was staying with family) and slurped “happy hour” oysters at Southport in Fort Lauderdale. I have heard mention of several places to try in Hollywood, and a few more scattered both north and south.

My coworkers don’t care how far they have to drive to eat well in their own minds; they go where the food hits their spot. And they will hound me until I try them all.

Today I took the Philly folks to Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor in Dania Beach to share a giant hot fudge banana split (made with our choices of house-made vanilla, chocolate and banana ice cream) en route to the airport after a sad loss by the Redskins to the Eagles that, of course, delighted my Philly pals. Yeah, I will definitely drive the distance to return there, again.

So, where am I going on my first dinner date? I think I will leave that up to the boy. But, if there’s a second date, I will certainly defer to my in-house dining critics.






11 responses to “You Gotta Try…”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    It sounds like the perfect guide book just waiting to be written – the Restaurant Worker’s Guide to Good Eating in [insert town name]. You’d make a fortune ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Julie Avatar

    I agree with Kim. That would be a wonderful guidebook.

    And I’m glad to hear that you’re getting out there and starting to date. I know that it’s not easy.

  3. Joe Avatar

    Hi RG!

    Today I had several reactions to your post… First time in a while and I felt the strange need to express the… These are completely random and I do not mean any of them in a judgmental manor.

    *I am glad you are going out with someone, that indicates a shift in spirits…
    *I miss RG Husband or the concept of him… I think it is the lack of closure… Being nosy blog readers wanting to know what happened and if it will all be better again I suppose.
    *A guide book when done well is an excellent tool and might be a good way to practice your writing. Not much money in it but I know Fodors likes to employ locals or those who visit often.
    *I think it is good that your coworkers care for you enough to suggest places to eat with such passion, shows a certain level of caring.

    Any who, just my random thoughts… Hope all is well.

  4. Suz Avatar

    Not sure what it says about me that the one thought I pulled from this blog is that restaurant workers are always hungry. Too true! It made me nod and laugh. Thanks. Good eating on the date, wherever you land!

  5. jali Avatar

    I’m another with my hand up in agreement with Kim. I’d love to have a guide that employees recommend.

    Ooooh. A first date with a new boy. Anticipation.
    Wear that cute outfit – the white top that everyone loved. (I’m trying to fill in for restaurant daughter – smile)
    Have a ball!

  6. Augs Avatar

    Gosh, that’s so cool. I mean your friends and co-workers give such great suggestion. I’m kind of jealous that it doesn;t happen to me. Actually, now I am looking forward to hearing about the place your date takes you and about the date. I’ll have my popcorn read when reading.

  7. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Kim–Thing is, I am not at all sure these are best places, I just know they the places the restaurant folks like. Meanwhile, you’re always thinking about my next project. Thank you!

    Julie–Haven’t had that date yet. It’s a few weeks out because of schedules. A lot can happen in between!

    Joe–Oh dear. Well, let’s remember I am only going out for dinner. I wouldn’t count that as “going out with someone” except in the most literal sense–a dinner. Mr. RG is in DC, and I have said that I will keep our personal issues out of the public reading scrutiny. But I appreciate your thoughts on his behalf, as I am sure he does. Fodors–a good suggestion. Do I have the energy to take that on? Co-workers caring? Maybe. More likely, they just like to live vicariously through my next great meal! I really appreciate your comment, by the way.

    Suz–You totally get it, don’t you?

    Augs–Pop the popcorn in a couple of weeks, and we’ll see, okay? Meanwhile, I ate chips and dip for dinner tonight.

  8. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    Hey RG! With so many choices there, restaurant employees usually are the best sources.

    Boy, I miss Jaxson’s. Only 10 minutes away from where I lived. Ice cream was, and is, my biggest weakness. If only there weren’t so many screaming brats. Kinda like the DisneyWorld of ice cream.

  9. Kim Ayres Avatar

    I don’t think the guide necessarily “the best” places to eat. In fact, entries like “Joe the waiter likes the burgers here and used to date the barmaid” would give it precisely the quirky kind of unique selling point needed in the market ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Ex-RM–I know! I had avoided the place, thinking it was just another ice cream spot. But wow! And what would ice cream be without screaming kids around?

    Jali–Your comment got lodged in my spam filter. Sorry! I just retrieved it. Yes, anticipation mixed in with some nervousness. May have to wear that outfit if I am meeting him after work!

    Kim–The thing is, I know you are right. So, how do we get this series of city dining guides going? I’ll interview wait staff and write up the listings. You figure everything else out ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. maureen Avatar

    My mom used to own a travel agency & if you asked her about her trip she would tell you what you ate where . I think Kim is right, I would love to buy a book telling me where the local servers thought the best serviece & food could be found . Either way have fun on you date good to know your getting out there !!!1