Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When the Sun is Not Cause of the Shadow on Your Dinner Plate

Are we all on the same page here and would say that it is highly uncomfortable to sit so close to other people at restaurants? I'm not talking about people in your party, I'm talking about the people you didn't plan on having dinner with, the people that are sitting at the next table over but only inches away because the restaurant crams every last inch of the room with tables.

I first noticed this in LA about 10 years ago at the Cheesecake factory.  I thought "only in LA" at the time where you finally get a table after waiting 45 minutes and then walking around the corner in the overcrowded room, and spot our small little table squished between two other tables.  Being in LA, not knowing anyone and figuring I'd never see these people sitting inches from my table, I took the opportunity to talk a little louder and about my expensive world travels and adventures.  What was really funny was watching the really uncomfortable look on my husband's face as I was giving him the eye hint as if to say "come on.. don't blow our cover, work with me here.. play along!!!"  He was bit about to join that game, so I had to go back to finding something real to talk about which made things pretty boring sounding after Venice and my recent enhancement surgery that went awry.

As with everything that starts in LA and works its way up the coast, that close, crammed, table for 2 seating, has infringed upon Oregon popular restaurants.  It is so awkward sitting that close and TRYING not to eves drop on the conversation and trying to keep our conversation ours.  The even more awkward thing is when the people next to us get up and as the man is swiveling to the side to hoist himself up to squeeze by, half his bum is over my plate!!.. which of course he has no idea! I take note of this and make sure I don't swing my purse to wide when I got up or fling my coat in their plate while trying to exit, and kept a very stiff sideways side step as I left my table.

The one good thing about this close table arrangement and the ONLY good thing, is that it makes for really easy gawking at what people order.  Sometimes I'd love just to walk around prior to ordering and take visual notes and interview people about their selection, however that seems socially unacceptable so I do  that weird side look out of my eyes for about 15 minutes scanning every table.

Recently we hit a great new to us restaurant in the Pearl District.  Thankfully, we were able to have an empty table in between us and the other people.

Isabel Pearl 

Wow! is all I can say about this great restaurant in the Pearl District of Portland, OR.  I'm very big on ambiance and the while checking out options online first, I wasn't too sold on that aspect virtually but once there those worries were gone.  It was Saturday night and the place was not over full just nicely popular.   An open kitchen with small tables scattered around we picked one by the window, which really there was nothing to see outside, but it was a good choice for some conversation away from the other tables.  "California comfort food" was what this restaurant boasts as their specialty which I really wasn't sure what that was, but comfort has worked well in the past in most situations.  With our Passport Diners Card in our pocket and our recent vacation canceled we felt we could splurge a little on our dinner and everything looked really good on the menu.  We started with the lettuce wraps which were served with this amazing cubed grilled chicken and a side of peanut sauce...very comforting for a good start.
 Our waiter was so cute and friendly which makes it so much more enjoyable, informative and comforting.. and love when they actually know what is on the menu and have tried. Is it wierd I'm checking for a ring in hopes to set him up with my friend? Back to the menu, he suggests some great options and I go with one of the noodle bowls.  Check out the website http://www.isabelscantina.com/isabel-pearl.php
Dessert was the most amazing dessert I have EVER had at a restaurant and I'm not kidding.   My husband and I were fighting over the last bites of this banana in the glazed delightful mess with ice cream and something unexplainable glazed on top!!
We both sat there in awe of the complete experience from start to finish of such an amazing meal.  Kind of like the first time we went on Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland!  Go check it out, it is a great place.


  1. Don't know much about fancy restaurants. But I agree about Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland! I was in awe! Was in line for the ride first day it opened. Went on it three times!
    Just make sure your stomach is empty. :)

  2. I've said it before and I'll say it again. In Oregon, when it comes to food, the magic words are: FOOD CARTS! FOOD CARTS! FOOD CARTS! :D