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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Five Minute Conversations - THANKS FOR DESSERT, DON

I'm finally back in New Jersey after a wonderful, but very hot, summer in Stonington, Connecticut; it's great to be back and see more of my husband, but always sad to have the summer end.

One of my favorite things about Stonington is Noah's Restaurant on Water Street. It's so rare to find a place where a woman alone feels comfortable sitting at the bar and having lunch. Noah's is just that place. On any weekday you can find a half dozen people to talk to or just bring a book. The food is spectacular, the staff warm and friendly and it just feels like "home".

Coming back to Mendham is always a shock because we don't really have any place that has that same "neighborhood" feel; where you can go by yourself and just talk to everyone around you, relax and have a nice lunch.

The one serious thing missing in southeastern Connecticut is a really great mall. There are no nearby large department stores except for Macy's in Waterford. Spending a summer totally mall deprived forced me to make a trip to the Short Hills Mall yesterday. I didn't even buy anything but it was nice to just breath the over processed mall air surrounded by bright and shiny new fall merchandise at Bloomingdale's, Neiman's, and Saks to name a few. If you've been living under a rock and haven't made a trip to Short Hills, I can only describe it as Fifth Avenue in New York City but under a roof. You're surrounded by so much sparkle and bling it's amazing! Handbags and jewelry and clothes, OH MY!

I decided to have lunch at my favorite mall restaurant, Joe's American Bar and Grill. For a Wednesday in September Joe's was really crowded but after exchanging pleasantries with Noreen, the manager, I found an empty seat at the bar. I began reading CURE by Robin Cook (terrible choice, see my review below) while waiting for my order. Just as my club sandwich was being delivered, a couple of young and extremely nicely dressed gentlemen were standing behind me looking for seats. With only one seat available next to me, one of them asked if I would mind sliding over a bit so that they could squeeze in another stool. I was happy to, but laughingly said it was going to be very cozy.

We quickly made the necessary adjustments and the gentleman closest to me offered to buy me a drink to thank me. Although I declined, we started talking. His name was Don and he and his lunch mate are financial analysts for New York Life. We discovered that we had both grown up in Newark, NJ; he attended Weequahic High School while I had attended West Side High, albeit many years apart. We talked about different stores and places that used to be in Newark. He currently lives in Madison and summers on Martha's Vineyard. I gave him one of my blog bookmarks and, promising to visit my blog, he turned back to his co-worker and I went back to my book. I couldn't help but chuckle when Don placed his order because NOBODY is as picky about ordering as I am (okay, friends and family...I finally admit it!). My chicken club included swiss but no bacon with very light mayo on white toast with no onion rings; very different than the standard offered. Well, Don proceeded to order grilled chicken with grilled shrimp. He didn't want it on a Caesar salad and he and the bartender struggled but finally came up with some appropriate greens and dressing.

I had just finished eating when Don insisted he wanted to buy me dessert. I finally relented when he agreed to split it with me.....strawberry shortcake made the correct way, with a biscuit. We chatted a little more and then I paid my check. We shook hands and I left through the restaurant entrance that passes the waitstaff station. Well, Don, I hope you're reading this blog entry because there were two waitresses hopping up and down and talking about how cute you are! I think you made a couple of conquests and should definitely consider going back to Joe's for lunch again soon.

I guess if you look hard enough you can find a place that feels like it should be in your neighborhood and has good food that nice friendly people frequent. I wish Joe's was in Mendham and not a half hour away.

By the way, thanks for dessert.

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