The Lunch Date

It is a thing I have done often with girlfriends: to select a nice restaurant that has something we all like to eat, and then go there and enjoy good food and good conversation. But for some reason, it is a thing I have done less often with my husband.

The night before this, I had confessed that my lack of seafood recently had been getting me down. I suggested we lunch at Red Lobster, where I was thinking about ordering something fancy and expensive like crab legs or the Seaside Shrimp Trio. As is our custom, my husband spent some time online reviewing the menu.

But in the morning, we had two reasons not to do that. One was that I was not feeling particularly seafoody; I guess my seafood urge kicks in later in the day. And my husband was not happy to discover that the dish he most often orders had been changed in a way that did not please him, and the price had gone up substantially.

He countered with a suggestion of Hoss's, a local steakhouse, which I turned down. Then he came back with a second counter-suggestion: what about Olive Garden? And when he looked at the menu online, he discovered they are having a $5 take-along special: various classics (including my favorite, fettuccine, shown above), available with the order of any entree. That sold me on it!

So we found ourselves at Olive Garden for a very nice married-people lunch date. He ordered the spaghetti with meat sauce, and I had the fettuccine alfredo, lunch portion, and ordered one to go for later. He had pasta fagioli, and I had salad. Breadsticks aplenty appeared on our table. We also finished up by splitting three tiny dolcini desserts.

We had PLENTY of leftovers to take along for later, and interestingly enough, the price for our TWO meals was just a bit more than what I would have paid for my ONE fancy seafood dish at Red Lobster. Hmmm.

The restaurants here are operating at 25% capacity now. So there was a sign posted on the door stating maximum occupancy, including staff, was in the 50s. Fortunately, we arrived there just after 11, right after they opened up. I am certain that during peak times, you probably cannot even get in.

Our waitress was excellent and attentive and generous, and we tipped her well. (Please do the same if you can!) There was plenty of space between us and the next table of people. Masks are required until you actually get to the eating and drinking portion of the show; at the table, you can take them off.

How would I rate my meal? my husband asked. As I smiled so big that my eyes got squinty and disappeared with the grin, and brandished a breadstick, I told him I'd give it a full 10 out of 10. I could not think of a single way to improve any of what I had. And I have to say this: it was one of the very first things that has felt NORMAL since this whole coronavirus thing began. What is that worth?

My soundtrack song is for my husband, my lover, my best friend, and my lunch date on this day: Elvis Presley, with Can't Help Falling in Love.

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