We are going to be entering an interesting time in the history of New Orleans restaurants in the coming weeks. We’ve already started to see some restaurants open with reduced capacity and alternative seating arrangements.
As I’ve driven around town, I’ve noticed a number of places with newly arranged tables in what would otherwise be parking lots. I suppose if you’re only serving 25 percent of your regular customers you probably don’t need all of your parking, and the dining rooms of some restaurants aren’t really big enough to fit even a limited number of diners and keep the required distance between tables.
Thus the new patios make sense… except that we’re fast approaching the time of year when outside dining won’t be particularly comfortable. I have read several articles about how the current crisis means that some degree of social isolation will be “the new normal,” but I don’t believe that’s true any more than I believe that most restaurants in town will see the majority of their sales from delivery in the future.
While I do see delivery services – particularly those that do not charge usurious rates to the restaurants – thriving going forward (more about that in the near future) there is a social aspect to dining out that is irreplaceable. We primarily order takeout when we don’t have time to shop and/or cook because we have to work late or the kids have after-school activities. That’s not an issue for the time being.
Also, my wife and I are like a lot of locals in that we love to cook. But I miss dining with friends and running into people at restaurants. I miss visiting with chefs and though I love them dearly, getting to spend a couple of hours with just my wife.
I don’t know when we’ll manage to dine out again – it won’t be in the immediate future due to some folks in our immediate orbit that have much higher than normal risk factors – but I’ve started to think about where we might go. In no particular order and with apologies to the many, many restaurants I will leave off of this list:
I want to sit at the bar at Kanno and catch up with Hide, Lin, Bobby and any of the regulars I used to see there. I want to sit down for lunch at Boucherie and Galatoire’s and Bayona and Clancy’s and Herbsaint. I want to visit Rosedale for the first time, because I’ve seen the outside and have checked out the menu and it causes me great anguish that I haven’t been yet. I want to go to Bud’s Broiler and Company Burger and Domilise’s. I want to have a negroni at Ancora with my wife and fried catfish at High Hat Café. I want to get oysters and crudo at Peche and just about anything at Saffron.
I could go on, but this is making me maudlin, and I do not need additional reasons to be maudlin.
So what’s your plan for dining out again – assuming you intend to do so? Where are you most anxious to visit, and why?