Sunday, August 1, 2021

Around the Kitchen Table: Our Favourite Restaurants #giveaway

 

VICKI: As things start opening up in parts of our countries , I’ve been thinking about the appeal of the restaurant. To the cook (who is likely also the dishwasher) it’s obvious: a night off work. But it’s more than that.  Why do we enjoy eating out so much?

Is it having a choice of meal, the chance to dress up, an excuse to drink more than usual or to have dessert?  Is it the ambiance, the service? In the depths of the pandemic and a Canadian winter I treated myself to a hugely expensive dinner, alone, at a nice restaurant  (because of Covid protocols only local residents were allows in) and it lifted my spirits enormously both in anticipation of the night out and over the next couple of days. 

Now that it’s summer in Canada we’ve been enjoying restaurant patios. I love a good patio, which to me means in a garden. I don’t care for patios on the sidewalk by a busy street. what about you? 

Are you a regular restaurant goer or is it a rare treat 
and what’s your favourite sort of place? 

Vicki enjoying the perfect restaurant patio

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TINA KASHIAN: Restaurants mean something special to me. I grew up in the restaurant business, and my family owned a restaurant for thirty years in South Jersey. I rolled silverware in napkins as a tween and worked as a hostess and waitress as a teenager. The tips paid for my prom gown. When I plotted my Kebab Kitchen cozy series, I used my experience in the restaurant business. Chatty waitstaff, temperamental cooks, and friendly local customers all came into play as I wrote many of the scenes. And the food! We served traditional American food as well as Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. As for my series, there is even a hummus bar in "Hummus and Homicide" and I shared my recipe on this blog. Years later, I still love to go out to eat at restaurants.

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LESLIE KARST: Lover of all things culinary that I am, restaurants are of course all about the food for me. Especially dishes that are complicated or messy to prepare at home: fried chicken, soufflés, cassoulet, and French pastries.

But what I love most about restaurants—and what I’ve missed so very much over the past year and a half—is the social aspect of dining out. Getting to spend an evening with friends over a delicious meal and bottle of wine, and chatting with the servers, bartenders, and other restaurant staff. That’s what makes eating out so very special for me. Oh yeah, and there is also that issue of the dirty dishes...

 

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Mr. Right and I met on a blind date at a long-closed Chinese restaurant in a town halfway between where we both lived at the time, and have always loved going out to eat. Our town has a surprisingly good crop for its size, and we truly missed going out to them during what a character in my WIP refers to as "the P word" or "the time that must not be named." It's fun to be waited on, to enjoy a special outing, to see what the chef is creating and the bartender pouring. 

It's fun, too, to recreate favorite dishes at home, and I'll admit that our cooking has suffered a bit for the lack of that particular inspiration, although we've made it up for it by drawing inspiration from other sources -- last winter, we watched oodles of Julia Child videos, and made a point of upping our Sunday morning breakfast game. We most enjoy a casual restaurant with an adventuresome attitude, and if it's in a repurposed bank built in 1908, like one of our local favorites, or a building with an interesting history or decor, we're doubly happy. In January 2020, we spent a week in Paris, enjoying bistros and sidewalk cafes (with heaters and fleece blankies!), and those memories continue to inspire our cooking, warm our tummies, and make our mouths water. (Shown: Les Oeufs Mayo in a bistro on Rue Montorgueil.)     
 
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PEG COCHRAN: I have to share my funny restaurant story.  We went out to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant about a week before my younger daughter was due to be born.  I was taking the first bites of my dinner (I remember it was delicious) when my water broke! For years we went back to the same restaurant to celebrate her birthday. The owner never forgot and on her 10th birthday, he delivered an birthday cake to our house! We still have Chinese food on her birthday even though she is now 31!  I like to eat out at restaurants that serve food I don't generally make at home--Thai, Indian, Persian.  It makes you feel as if you're on a "mini" trip away. 

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MARY JANE MAFFINI: I have always loved restaurants and nothing has changed.  As children, when we were lucky we’d be taken to the Isle Royale Coffee Shop or the London Grill for a special event. Thrilling! Or in the summers, visiting the Gaspé area of Quebec, we would enjoy hot chicken sandwiches in local restaurants.  The common hot chicken sandwich was transformed into sandwich au poulet chaud. So much more exotic, even if the canned peas were still present.

Many years later,  I am overjoyed to gather with friends at outdoor patios again.  What fun!  I don’t even mind the traffic noise after a  such long and quiet winter.  This past week I met with good friends at a patio outside a beautiful stone church that is now a restaurant/bakery/meeting space. We loved sitting under the festive umbrellas on a hot and sunny summer day ,together at last. The menu was inventive and I got some ideas of things to try.  I took a couple of pix.  One friend enjoyed Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon and Watercress Salad. 

 Another one scored Torched Burrata with Heirloom Tomato Salad. 

Both were delish, I am told and very summery. Expect to see variations before long on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  We've come a long way from the hot chicken sandwich!  

I even love restaurants in books, my own and other authors’. Every one of the Charlotte Adams books has multiple scenes set in restaurants or featuring take-out.  I find it amusing to spend time and enjoy made-up meals in made-up places.  No wonder I enjoy my friends’ books so much.  Let me know if you confine your resto-love to real ones or open your heart to fictional ones.  

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MAYA CORRIGAN: We enjoy restaurants as a change from cooking (me) and cleaning up (my husband). So we'll skip dinner at home in favor making a meal of happy hour appetizers. Or that's what we used to do before the P-word, and hopefully we will do again. Otherwise, I like going to restaurants for something I'd never cook at home like hard-shell crabs.


When we travel, we research restaurants at our destination and have at least one great meal. I usually choose something that's complicated to make. For example, when we were in New Orleans and went to GW Fins, I ordered Scalibut. Fresh Alaskan halibut, with sliced scallops arranged on it to look like fish scales, is baked with a sauce and served on a bed of lobster risotto. That was an amazing dish. I was so busy eating it that I forgot to take a picture, but you can see it on GW Fins website. 

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CLEO COYLE: We have many restaurants that we enjoy for different reasons. Among them are two casual New York places that we often recommend to visitors because they are (1) convenient to the theater district, (2) lots of fun, and (3) easy on the budget. The first is John's Pizzeria of Times Square (literally the largest pizzeria in the country), where you can enjoy New York-style pizza in a beautiful, converted Gospel Tabernacle church. Look up to see the enthralling stained glass ceiling while enjoying pizza made in an 800-degree coal-fired oven. 


Our second suggestion serves THE BEST cheesecake in town, (and when the town is New York, that's saying something). Junior's Restaurant began in Brooklyn but now has two locations in the Times Square area, where you can not only get amazing slices of cheesecake but order from a huge, old-fashioned New York deli-style menu that includes authentic egg creams, which (ironically) are made without eggs or cream. The New York Egg Cream is a fizzy delight, a light milkshake that you're bound to love. It's also very easy to make at home, and we're happy to show you how. Click here or on the photo (above) for our recipe, and enjoy! ~ Cleo 


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Are you a regular restaurant goer or is it a rare treat 
and what’s your favourite sort of place? 



GIVEAWAY! 

To be entered in this week's drawing,
join us in the comments on this topic.

Include your email address,
so we can contact the winner!

Comments Open through
Wednesday, August 4


> MURDER IN A TEACUP by Vicki Delany

> GINGERDEAD MAN by Maya Corrigan


Comments Open through
Wednesday,  August 4

Don't forget to include
an email address!

📚 


61 comments:

  1. We do like to go to restaurants about once a week. It is nice to have the break from cooking. I usually go for places that have food I would not cook myself because of the time it takes to make. cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Time, or equipment. We love Onion Rings, but don't deep fry at home. There's a summer-only burger joint in town, and what a treat it is to get their Onion Rings a few times in the summer!

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  2. Going out is a rare treat for me. My favorite places are fun and economical, nothing formal or expensive. Chuy's is one place that serves generous portions, reasonable prices, great drinks, and personable waitstaff. 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com

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  3. We never have been ones to eat out often, but Covid made it into almost never. Most times eating out was for a break from doing all the cooking and clean up. On occasion, it was when I had to go to Little Rock for medical reasons and it was a long day, but even those trips now usually mean ordering at take out windows and eating in the car. No special treat there!

    When we were able to travel, I loved going to the Mom and Pop restaurants in that area to see what the locals eat and to try things that maybe we couldn't find at home.

    One of my favorite places to go back to over and over is in the southern part of the state where we use to live. Really enjoy it now that we don't live there. I know that sounds strange, but it also means the times we go are limited and very often months apart. Our trips south are usually connected with our soon to be 17 year old furbaby going to see his doctor (yes we still take him there) and putting flowers on our daughter's grave as well as my parents and grandparents. That means the trip itself isn't for the most joyous of reasons. However, we can go to our favorite place where the waiter who knows us all so well serves us our favorite dishes. It's nice to go where they know your name as the song goes, knows how you like your food and they make the whole experience a fun and relaxing time - especially after an often emotion or troubling day. It's always one bright event to look forward to in the upcoming trip.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win two great book on my TBR list that I've been greatly anticipating having the opportunity to read! Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  4. Thank you everyone. This was fun learning about your restaurants. We are one of those who enjoy restaurants as a special time out.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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  5. Going out to eat is a real pleasure which occurs infrequently due to closures and too few places which have survived. Fish is my favorite meal and this is greatly enjoyed. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It's going to be sad to see how many favourite places haven't been able to survive. Still, I'm sure others will take their place.

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  6. We go eat at restaurants once or twice a week. My favorite type of restaurant are the ones that not a chain.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

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    1. When on the road, you sometimes can't avoid chain restaurants, but the other kind are my favorite too.

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  8. Before the pandemic a friend and I would go to lunch every other week and there was also a girls night out every other month. However we have not gotten together since. We are in a hot spot here where I live so I am not comfortable going out YET. We enjoyed placed with great burger, salads and sandwiches. shawnstevensbooks(at)gmail(dot)com thank you

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    1. That's the best thing about restaurants - getting together with friends. Hopefully we can all do that again before too much longer.

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  9. We rarely eat out. When we do it is a treat for sure. We like small homey places that offer country home cooked meals. Lots of these have closed down due to the "P". Some are trying a comeback so there is hope we will find new favorites. 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I don't eat out much either, like you I want it to be a treat. Let's hope some of our favourite places are able to survive.

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  10. I'm a big Egg Cream fan. I always make sure to have Fox's U-Bet syrup in the house. I buy it pre-Passover so I get the ones make with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Getting the right seltzer can be a problem. Some of them don't have enough bubbles when you add it to the mix to give the right feel. White Rock didn't give enough fizz so I'm switching to Schweppes's Seltzer water and we'll see if it makes a difference.

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    1. Left out the restaurant part.. LOL

      My foodie partner Dru and I have a thing for new food places. We've been all over Brooklyn and have narrowed our go-to's down to Applebee's for a quick meal, Brooklyn Pound in Red Hook for seafood or the Red Hook Lobster Pound. For real smoked BBQ we tried Hometown BBQ.

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    2. Sounds great. When my Canadian author friends and I are on the road in the US, we usually stop at an Applebees. You know what you're getting and they're usually not too far off the highway. In the evening, when we're settled in our hotel, we'll try to find something specific to the place we're in.

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    3. I love those foods that are so associated with one region that you either don't find or don't dare try them anywhere else -- like Egg Creams in NY!

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  11. Now that things have opened up, we are back to going to restaurants fairly regularly. We especially enjoy Mexican food, seafood, and beef barbecue.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  12. we used to go to restaurants frequently before Covid, but now it is a treat. thanks for the chance to win! amandasmother(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Isn't it interesting how much we now appreciate the things we couldn't do during the worst of the pandemic?

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  13. It's a rare treat for me. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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  14. We are frequent restaurant goers. We live in a smaller town so we only have a few choices. We have a steakhouse, several pizza chains, Chinese, Japanese Steakhouse, fast food. We have a couple Mom and Pop restaurants but they all close at like 2:00 so we never get to eat there. Those are my favorite though. Thanks for the chance! almaj80(at)suddenlink(dot)net

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  15. We love restaurants. Some one else plans, shops, cooks, serves, and cleans up!
    They can also inspire home cooking. They can deal with the complicated dishes or ingredients that I don't want to tackle.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  16. We rarely go to restaurants, usually only when we travel, and because of covid, we do not eat inside restaurants. We cook almost exclusively with fresh vegetables and meat. No pre packaged foods in our house. We live in a small resort town so the restaurants here are extremely expensive and out of our financial comfort zone. When we do go out (or when we used to) I love a good bbq joint with smoked meats, or a good steakhouse.
    robsnest60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  17. Last year we tried to do a locally owned restaurant once a week to help keep them in business. Take out. Now that things are opening we have cut back to it being a treat. And we still do take out because my son has Autism and sometimes restaurants are hard to deal with. We like Mexican food the most.
    bmedrano34@yahoo.com

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    1. I really believe it's important to support your locally owned restaurant, like any business, but yes you have to accommodate your family's needs. Mexican - yum

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  18. Working two jobs I rarely have time to eat out, but when I do I love being with family or friends enjoying the time together. I missed that during shut downs and now that things are back open it’s great when I have s chance to dine out. Linda dot Gehring at gmail.com

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  19. I really enjoy going to a restaurant for a sit down meal with friends. I've only been to a restaurant a couple of times since things have opened up around here. So, I guess I would say it's a rare treat. I'm looking forward to going to a nice steakhouse when things are more widely open.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  20. At this point, I'm happiest eating out when it is in fact out. Last night my granddaughter and I ate sliders and sandwiches on the patio of a local pub.

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  21. I usually go to a local restaurant at least once a week. Now I am patronizing those hurting during these difficult times. I am visiting our seasonal ice cream stands before their time ends for the year for treats. I also enjoy going to chain restaurants my area does not have when I am out of town. egoehner(at)roadrunner(dot)com

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  22. We go out to eat about once a week while out doing grocery shopping and running other errands. There's 2 favorite places we mostly rotate between, though there's a couple other places we do now and then for variety. The only "restaurant" in my own town is the bar but they have some really good food. It's nice to get something from there when it's been a long hot day and no one feels like cooking.
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  23. Following up on Vicki's comment, we Canadians have had a lot of fun at restaurants while on the way to conferences or book signings. Applebee's was convenient and near the off-ramps. But it was also fun exploring local restaurants wherever conferences like Left Coast Crime were being held. Friends make restaurants even better!

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  24. As family going out to restaurants is not an usual thing. Birthdays and Anniversaries come to mind. But I watch my grandson and my granddaughter is excited about cooking. So we usually cook dinner together. It has been a blast.

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  25. I try to meet a friend every Monday for dinner and a few drinks! We go to the same restaurant every week! They have a big variety of different dishes!

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  26. I usually try to order something I would or could not prepare at home. Occasionally, a new dish prods me into trying a different twist on a familiar recipe, like adding a new ingredient to a sauce or a different pairing of a side dish. I am glad that we are finally able to go out to eat again.
    At home we have an agreement: one person cooks, the other does the dishes. I am one of those cooks who cleans up as I go, but my husband was not taught that way. However, he is an excellent cook, so the clean up is worth it.
    Having grown up in Brooklyn, I remember going to Junior’s as a special treat. A favorite uncle used to stop by our home to take my grandmother (who lived with us) out to lunch at Junior’s on Sunday afternoons. Every once in a while us kids were invited to come along. Great memory. I am glad to know they are still around.
    lroth@pcext.com

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  27. We used to go out to restaurants quite often. The pandemic changed all of that, but we still had restaurants deliver to us.

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  28. I like going to restaurants because I don't have to cook

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  29. i'm a regular goer it's not an everyday thing... i'm not a cooker. the oven and microwave is my friend

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  30. My husband and I go out at least once a week and we like small, individually owned restaurants that are unique, friendly, and have good food (they don’t have to be fancy or exotic). When traveling, we look for where the locals go

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  31. I love eating out... as much as I love the idea of loving to cook, I just don't...This post made me really hungry...

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