Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Evening Dining Disaster

Note to self and others: Don't ever go out to dinner with an overtired four year old and a finicky nearly 98 year old.

We were on our way back from a trip deep into the heart of suburban development New Jersey, Clinton to be exact. Since we were not that far from my grandfather's place, I figured we would stop by and see him and maybe have some dinner with him.

It was a beautiful sunny day so I thought that it would be nice to get him outside. I knew that he only liked to eat at the Edison Diner but I thought that I would convince him to branch out, especially since neither A. nor I were too keen on having diner food for dinner. I had read about a new Greek restaurant in Highland Park, called Pithari Taverna and it was less than a five minute ride away. I told him that we had heard great things about it and surprisingly he agreed to go along.

When we pulled up, the restaurant appeared busy yet somehow they had a table for us outside. Off to a good start but things quickly deteriorated from that point on. No menus appeared, nor was there any sign of a waiter. Just people running around looking especially harried. After sitting for about 10 minutes, a busboy set our table and put out some olives and grilled pitas. We managed to acquire some menus from another table. Perhaps things were improving. Alas it was only temporary. We continued to wait and nobody came to take our order. By this time, Izzy was jumping up and down, trying to consume the entire basket of pitas whilst commenting, "There's nothing to eat. There is no food on my plate."

Meanwhile Great-Grandpa was griping about the slow service. "This is a good place to go when you have plenty of time to waste," he said. All the while rhapsodizing over Matzoh Ball soup from the Edison Diner.

I kept stopping a bespectacled fellow who appeared to be the owner. He continued to answer, "Give me a few minutes." About 4o minutes after being seated he finally came to take our order. Then another half an hour elapsed and still no food appeared, nary a morsel. I decided it was time to take drastic action so I picked Izzy up and carried him to the counter to find out what was going on. They didn't even seem to have a record of the order. I said, "Please give us some food. My four year old is tired and hungry and my 98 year old grandfather needs something too, not to mention my cranky husband.

The woman behind the counter seemed to take pity on me and after figuring out what we had ordered, explained it would be out in a minute.

All at once, appetizers and main courses appeared on the table. There was a platter of Greek spreads, roasted chicken for Great-Grandpa, souvlaki for A., and a couple of charcoal-grilled octopus tentacles for me. Izzy's Spanokopita didn't show up but I let it go since it seemed that there was ample food for the group of us, and besides all the stress of waiting had diminished my appetite.

The octopus was a decent version of this dish but two tentacles for 11.95 seems a bit outrageous. The chicken was flavorful as well, moist and herby but it was served with fries instead of the lemon potatoes and cost 12.99 instead of the menu price of 8.95.

Izzy shared Great-Grandpa's chicken and as far as I was concerned, he could have had whatever he wanted at that point. As they both happily chomped on their chicken, Great-Grandpa peered over at the tentacles and asked what they were. I asked him to guess. He replied, "I am afraid to say." Our meal progressed in strained silence. Great-Grandpa chews rather slowly and continued to eat, long after the three of us had finished. I breathed a sigh of relief when he finally finished and we were able to leave.

Why did I do it, I wondered? I was lured in by a review from the New York Times, which mentioned feeling as if you were in Greece. Well if that is what Greece is like, I have no interest in ever going there. The food was mediocre at best. In all fairness, it did seem like they were having an off night so if you live around there you can give the place a chance. As for me, next time I will give the Edison Diner a chance.

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