My wife had a birthday recently. We had a low-key celebration that night at Bayou Wine Garden, and I will therefore testify to the excellent cheese and charcuterie board we had with a carafe of wine.

Two cured meats, three cheeses, assorted pickles, fruit, good bread, chutney and three varieties of mustard in generous portions for around $30 was enough for the two of us and we were hungry. I don’t remember the layout of tables prior to the pandemic, but if I had to guess I’d say they were already pretty well-spaced. I wouldn’t call it, “quiet,” but we didn’t have a problem having a conversation.

Two nights later we celebrated again with a couple of friends at Marjie’s Grill.

Their website says they have a limited menu because of interruptions from Hurricane Ida to the farmers and fishers they work with, as well as staff. It didn’t feel limited, though, between the four of us we ordered around two-thirds of the menu.

Highlights included the crab and watermelon salad, which has a tangy, spicy fish-sauce based dressing and which I will order as long as they sell it. The “southern summertime som tam,” a take on Thai papaya salad was a hit, too.

There was a honey butter rabbit dish on the menu that called to me, particularly when I read that the basting liquid included Tabasco mash. I really like savory and spicy flavors paired with a little sweetness, and I also like rabbit when it’s not overcooked. It wasn’t and I think we had two orders with nothing left on either plate when we left.

Both restaurants were complying with the city’s current requirement that patrons show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. I haven’t hidden my thoughts on the topic: there are people who have legitimate medical reasons not to do get vaccinated, but everyone I know in that position is staying isolated. They’ve been isolated for a long time, too.

As such, I don’t think asking folks who won’t get the vaccine to isolate is asking too much.

On a more pleasant topic, you might have been concerned that Mosca’s,  the restaurant in Jefferson Parish that has been luring diners out of the city since 1946, had suffered damage during Ida. They did, but apparently it was not all that bad, because they reopened this week.

That’s good news. Every time I’ve been, and that includes over about a 40-year period, the menu has been the same and it’s always been good. It’s also a place that encourages conviviality. Dishes are served family-style and most people go in fairly large groups. It’s not only not “quiet;” it’s downright loud at times but at least it’s loud because so many people are having boisterous conversations. We could all use more of those.