Maybe I’ll be changing my favorite restaurant. A strong contender placed a claim Friday night. More on that later.
A lot goes into picking a favorite, of course. The company has a lot to do with it. As does the occasion.
So you’d think my favorite might be the restaurant where Karen and I ate after we got married.
We’d decided to go to Regas, in downtown Knoxville, which is where we got married. Why Knoxville? We’d spent some time there (a story for another time, perhaps) and really liked the city. We were going to be married in one of the little chapels in what’s called the Old City there. We’d decided on the drive over to ask whoever helped us at the license office – which was in a mall – for a suggestion of where to eat after the ceremony. I was skeptical – big surprise there – and said, “She’ll probably suggest Darryl’s.”
After we got the license, we asked the clerk, a perky youngster, our question. “Darryl’s is nice …”
It was another of those moments that we choked back our laughter. When we were able to talk, we explained we were looking for something upscale, and she suggested Regas. We took her up on it.
And it was pretty good, though the only thing I can really remember from the meal was the red velvet cake they gave us for being newlyweds.
But to tell you the truth, Karen and I had been married in all the ways that count long before we went through the ceremony. So my real favorite comes well before then, while we still lived in Jacksonville. Actually the restaurant was called the White Oak River Cafe, and it was in Swansboro.
What made it special? It just had everything. It was small and dark and played Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett while you ate. The menu was printed on a sheet and it was different every night. You’d get stuff in there I’ve never seen anywhere else. And it was always excellent. Karen and I only ate there two or three times, but we loved it, much as we loved each other.
Of course, we still love one another. And we love that restaurant. But all we have now is our memories. It didn’t make it. But we always stack the good places we eat up against it.
Friday night, with Austin at a friend’s house and Garrett at Carowinds, we wanted to try something different. We went to an Italian place in Matthews, called Fontanella’s. It’s in a crappy shopping center. But man, was it good.
A couple of weeks ago, we’d eaten at a snooty Italian place in Piper Glen and not really enjoyed it.
But this place was really quaint. The decorations were cool, the people were nice, our waiter Juan took great care of us and we were there by ourselves, in the middle of a crowded place.
We’ll go back, of course. And I hope it’s as good as the first time.
It might not ever top the White Oak River Cafe. Because it’s hard to top a ghost. (I’m pretty sure one of the things that has kept the WORC foremost in our minds is the fact that we can’t go there anymore.)
But we’ve got a new No. 2.
Even if it isn’t Darryl’s.
“The ghosts you chase you never catch.” – John Malkovich