Sunday, February 12, 2012

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Restaurant Feng Shui

Sometimes you can just tell whether a new restaurant is going to be a good place or not.  It may be the food, the service, the atmosphere or something indefinable about the place.  Let's call it the feng shui.  Well, last night we found a great place in Cafe de Paz in Dunedin.

We had reservations for 7 pm and unfortunately for us the place was packed and there was no way we were going to get our table.  But our waitress kindly served us a round of drinks on the house and we sat and chatted while we listened to a very good duo (keyboards and vocalist) sing standards ranging from Billy Joel to old blues songs.  Fred liked them and he is hard to please.

As we were waiting, our waitress, who was as cute as a bug's ear, came over and asked if Jam would like a bowl of water.  Now, nothing endears a restaurant or server faster to me more than sincere affection for our guide dog puppy.  Usually we get grudging acceptance, or a not so subtle attempt to shift us to the outside as in the "Oh, I'm sure you want the patio table" when it is 10 below (or in Florida terms, 70 degrees!).

Being told I want a patio seat, makes my desire for an indoor seat grow exponentially. I could have gone to that restaurant expressly for their ocean views and when those words pop out of their mouth, all of sudden I am filled with the desire for air-conditioned, four-walled, stuffiness.

"Why, no.  Whatever do you mean, outside? It's freezing." Never mind that I am wearing a tank top, shorts and flip flops. "I am in need of an inside table.  I have allergies and can't be near the surf and sea air." Direct stare into their eyes.

Of course there are amazing moments when others at the restaurant intervene for you.  That happened at the Crabby Bill's on Clearwater Beach.  The host said the deadly patio phrase and the female bartender nearly leaped over the bar. "That's a service dog!" She shouted and raced out towards us from behind the bar.  She ran over to the host and yanked the menus out of his hands.  "Please follow me upstairs." Then she turned and gave him the evil, "you and I will have a long talk about just how stupid you are" look, to which this 6'2" pretty buff guy actually blanched.  We followed the petite gal up the stairs to a nice table in the center of the dining room and had a great dinner.

But I digress.  Back to Cafe de Paz.  We were finally seated and a very fashionable and sweet hostess came over with a bowl of water for Jam.  We had to explain that he couldn't have it since he was on duty and couldn't drink in coat, but we were so thankful for her kindness.

Honestly, this restaurant rocks.  And the food was awesome!  Tapas, pizzas with gourmet toppings, crostinis, very unusual dishes and everything we tried was great.  Except for Fred's pizza.  It had clams on it and I thought that was weird.  But Fred and Ken liked it.

Afterwards, we went over to Ken and Linda's for a casual dessert, so I can't tell you about the dessert offerings at the restaurant.  However, I do want to give a shout out to our lovely friends Ken, Linda and Carrie who really are the most kind, caring and patient people and who put up with so much from us.  We are so lucky to have them in our lives.  Not only did Carrie not make a face when Jam grabbed her scarf and completely shoved it in his mouth, attempting to run off and devour it, she kindly put it back around her neck, dog slobber and all, so he wouldn't be tempted to try for it again.  And Ken and Linda, who had been dying to pet Jam all evening, waited at least 20 minutes for wanker Jam to calm down enough in their house to be petted.

What troopers.

And need we mention that we talked about Jam so endlessly that at one point I looked up and Ken was actually asleep?  Well, that is true friendship.  We promise to curb ourselves next time!!  Thanks for letting us run on last night.  We truly enjoyed ourselves.

May you all have friends like these and find restaurants like Cafe de Paz to take them to dinner!

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