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Fine Dining? August 11, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Family, random stuff, Surly Boy.

There’s this discussion board that I participate in sometimes.

Well, maybe “participate” is a little strong a word.  Perhaps “lurk” is a better description.


There’s this discussion board, and someone posed a question the other day.

What is your personal meaning of fine dining?

Now it was certainly a question that brought about much discussion among the foodies who populate that discussion board.

The consensus, with variations on a theme, seemed to involve good food, good atmosphere, and, um linen napkins.

And I got to thinking – and thinking back.

Way back to a birthday – I’m pretty sure it was my 30th.  I’m not exactly sure, but that makes the most sense.

It was Surly Boy‘s pre-surly days, it was just the two of us, and we had recently moved here to Rochester.

My birthday fell on a Saturday, and I decided that I wanted to go out for dinner.  Darn it.

And The Boy was going to be my “date.”

(Yes, I do know what the word “date” means.)

But I also know that he was almost 8, which means that he should start learning how to behave in a Nice Restaurant.

Up until then, as the only child of a single mom with a mediocre job and, at best, spotty child support, his “dining out” experiences had been pretty much limited to 29-cent hamburgers at McDonald’s on Cub Scout night and the occasional Chinese buffet with his grandparents.

We’re simple people; what can I say?

Anyway.  Here it was my 30th birthday, a gorgeous Saturday evening in June, and I’m here in the (big-ish) city with a 7-year-old son.

So we decided to get dressed up and splurge a little – and go out for dinner.  No reservations, no nothing.

The first place we went to, a place on the lake that I’d heard wonderful things about, had a 2-hour wait.

You can’t wait in the lounge for 2 hours with a 7-year-old.

So we drove around and found this little, hole-in-the-wall place close to home.

Seriously, it was a storefront in a strip mall, but we ended up there for dinner.

So imagine it.

Me, in my new dress, with gorgeous red pumps, and my little boy, in his khaki green dress shorts and matching plaid shirt.

(Back then, I shopped for his clothes.  He was so handsome.  You should have seen him in his dinosaur sweater.)

And while we enjoyed dinner in this tiny restaurant, The Boy learned about how to order, and what the different glasses and forks on the table were for, and how to take his linen napkin and put it in his lap to get it out of the way. . .

We talked about ordering and different courses, and eventually, how to leave an appropriate tip for our  waitress.

I don’t even remember what we ordered, only that he saw Artichokes French on the menu, and, between his hopeful look, and his well-known love of artichokes, how could I turn him down?  I had my Visa with me . . .

At one point, he excused himself to use the restroom, and the lady at the next table leaned over toward me, and she said,

Excuse me, but I just wanted to tell you, your little boy is such a little gentleman!

Music to a mother’s ears!

While he was up, he must have run into a staff member and mentioned that it was his mom’s birthday – when we were done with our dinners, they brought a complimentary dessert to the table and wished me a happy birthday – and they’d didn’t even feel the need to sing!

So when it comes to fine dining, I’d have to say that that evening was about as fine as it gets – a restaurant where a little boy can take some of his first steps toward growing into a young man.



1. Mazco34 - August 11, 2010

“Hole in the wall joints” as well as “Places off the beaten path” – they’ve always been my favorites. And usually greatly mourned when they are gone. Like Founders Inn, The Hearth, Rusty Roadster, and Sayreville Bar (ask Peeps about that joint). There are others, but those are the ones I miss the most!

Well, yeah. They kind of become fixtures in the neighborhood. And, sadly, all too often, taken for granted. We lost one of the last independent, family-owned donut shops in town that way – everyone loved them, but they took it for granted that they’d always be there.

2. judy - August 11, 2010

Loved this story! No wonder you have remembered that special day.

Thanks, Judy!

3. Anne - August 11, 2010

Yep, that’s truly fine. I’ll bet SB is pretty embarrassed if you bring it up. Especially his shorts with the matching plaid shirt. 🙂

He denies it altogether! But boy, I loved those little shirts!

4. sjbraun - August 17, 2010

Awww … I loved the warm ‘n fuzzy SB memory as well!

Thanks – so far, I haven’t heard a word from him about it, though – and I know he’s reading! 😉

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