#Bizarre #Travel Journal #3: #Hazy #Food Musings

Everyone has a favorite place to eat. Whether it’s Maxim’s in Paris, or Noma in Copenhagen, the memory of delicious food and exceptional dining linger long in our malleable brain cells. Etoufee and sourdough bread at Jake’s in Portland, Pecan Crusted Redfish at the #Commander’s Palace, or Happy Duck at the Thailand #Restaurant near Macdill seem never far from our grasp. We salivate for the chance to re-fire our synapses on those notable experiences.
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But time knows no master. The roller coaster economy and the business cycle can be brutal. Chalet Suzanne’s broiled grapefruit garnished with chicken liver and Romaine soup that’s been to the moon have drifted into #Central Florida history.
“Closed permanently” a handwritten sign emphatically stated at the glass door of #Tampa’s Old World Cheese Shop, home to the Sheriff of Nottingham and the unforgettable Tinkerbelle sandwiches. Don’t get me started. I still can’t get over the loss of the Kapok Tree, Morrison’s Cafeteria, and a Polynesian Inn near the Skyway in St. Petersburg (?? I could use a little help with this one).
On rare occasions, a closed restaurant may rise from the ashes, as have the Russian Tea Room and Tavern on the Green. New owners, or refinanced old ones, try to give it another shot, with mixed results. But more often than not, those restaurants are gone, never to return. We are left with only the hazy memories of what was, there on our plate, in our mouths and stuck in that memory slot.
It’s strange how the #brain works, flattening out what actually transpired in our sensory- laden mouths, moderated by sights, sounds and smells. Often the thought of an experience, or the anticipation of an event, is far grander than it finally plays out in reality. Sadly, many of life’s highlights end up that way— music, love, sex. The strange organ behind our eyes has a tendency to embellish the gaps and smooth the rough edges.
Not all of our culinary snippets find food at the center stage. Sometimes, it’s the setting. I remember one dark night in a #Vieux Carre basement restaurant where all the wait staff were costumed like it was #Halloween, all devils and pixies. Can’t remember a single thing I ate—good, bad, indifferent— but I will always remember the ambiance of the place. One cautionary note— don’t under estimate the influence of spirits on such fond memories. Many a questionable meal has been significantly enhanced by the addition of a few bottles of tasty wine, or a bottle of that wild Turkey.
Combining setting with great food and a primo #wine list, one old school institution is still cranking it out— #Bern’s in #Tampa. It is still hard to beat the fine aged beef, crispy onion rings, and spot on house-made Thousand Island dressing. But that pesky ‘old time’ still casts a shadow on the gaudy red velvet walls. To deal with hordes of eager patrons, the crystallization of the classics can be dimmer than memory pictured.
Even so, if you haven’t been, you might want to check it out before the Captain of the Rhone Room hangs up his golden tie after decades of exemplary service. If the night is not too busy, he may slow his White Rabbit pace long enough to tell you tales of the old days with David’s dad and the “secret passage” that connected to the bar.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the Harry Waugh Dessert Room upstairs for sweets and coffee in a barrel.
Feel free to share your dining memories, be if food or setting @ https://outcasts-tlh.com/ . The world is full of #Bizarre #Travel experiences (bizarre travelbook.com).

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