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Finding, enjoying the right place to eat in Fla.

March 11, 2012
By ANITA HANABURGH , For The Leader Herald

I'm in a new town. It's beautiful...the northernmost tip of the state of Florida, the westernmost jag on the eastern coast. I am here for nine days.

I am eating out a lot. On a recent evening, I turned to my trusted friend - Trip Adviser.

"What do you feel like eating?" I ask my other trusted friend.

"Seafood" was his reply.

So what do I want ?

"Atmosphere" was my thought.

I type into the easy-to-use Trip Adviser app : A-m-e-l-i-a I-s-l-a-n-d

Clicking on restaurants, I see Choi Cafe rates No. 1 out of its of 156 locations with ratings. I rule it out. It's Italian, not seafood and it's on Route 200 with limited atmosphere for this oceanfront town.

Rated No. 2 is Kelley's Cafe. Ruled out, we already ate there and it deserved its high rating.

No. 3 is Merge. Sounds delicious, but too fancy for tonight and too far from the water. Comments say it's lacking in atmosphere. Adviser's next choice is Lulu's Choice, but comments say it's great for lunch, but not worth the price for dinner.

Oh busboy, my chariot driver was impatient.

"Let's just walk around the harbor. We'll find something," he said.

But will it be the right something?

"It'll be fine," his impatient voice delivered. "Let's go."

My need to find just the right place to eat can actually interfere with finding and enjoying the right place to eat.

We slid the rental car into the harbor parking lot. As planned, we got out to just walk around. A notch past sunset, we headed over the docks. A cool but clear night, we stood for a while to admire the setting sun and rising full moon. But, all the while, my eyes were scanning the seacoast for a super supper spot.

Hey, what's this? The Harbor Seafood Cafe right on the dock. A full-service, classy but cool restaurant right on the water, atmosphere with a view and seafood!

"Let's go," my now very hungry companion said as he headed to the door.

As I walk in, I get concerned. Visiting a new restaurant, I always get the split-second shudders of having picked the wrong place. I gently placed my hand on my companion's lower arm wishing him to hesitate.

He looked at me, "Let it go, Anita." (He doesn't mean his arm. He means my propensity at second guessing.) He looked at the waitress, "Table for two."

Doesn't everyone have those feelings when first walking into a restaurant? That feeling of not being in the right place or of having selected incorrectly?

The first concern and the most common is money. We check out the other customers, the cloth napkins, the entire look of the place, the food coming out. We all do it. Is this place too pricey for my plan? Will it cost more than I can or am willing to pay or wanted to pay for this particular dinner?

My second concern is menu. Does this have what I want to eat? I usually have some idea of what I "feel" like eating, which is why I like to check out the place before I get there.

I like it when the menus are posted then I know what is offered and what it will approximately cost. I like checking websites and looking at the menus. These tell me what is available, but it doesn't tell me if it's any good. That is why I head to my trusted Trip Adviser. Although not perfect, it does give me an idea of others experiences.

Another of my pet concerns I have is where I am going to be seated. I look around as the wait staff is moving me around the room. I want the best seat for my money. Where is it? Is it by the window? I hope it's not by the stairs. I don't like to be in the middle of the room. I only get one chance to be led to the right place as I hate to ask to be moved once I'm seated.

Those are my big three but other concerns flood our thoughts as we enter a restaurant. Am I dressed correctly? Is it too crowded, so it will be too noisy? Is it too crowded that service will be too slow? Will my companions like my choice? Is it too cold, do I need a sweater? Are those chairs comfortable? Can I read the menu without glasses? Is no one here because the food is poor? Is the place clean? Where is the ladies/men's room? Oh busboy!

My need to find just the right place to eat can actually interfere with finding and enjoying the right place to eat.

 
 

 

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