THE RESTAURANT TABLE THAT DIDN’T EXIST

image0The other day I had a phone call from the past.  An old restaurant customer passing through town wanting to connect.  He was taking the opportunity to tell me how much a specific dinner in ROXY’S BISTRO had helped him at a difficult time.  Did I remember?    Of course.   I had seated him at the best table in the house.

The best table in our restaurant did not exist.  Our restaurant was not large.  It was more the size of the small bistros one is accustomed to in France.  We had just forty chairs in the dining room and four more chairs in “the vault”.  The vault was the original vault for the building. It made an intimate dining room for four very good friends.

This is how the best table in ROXY’S was created.  It was a very busy night.  Every table in the restaurant was booked.  A regular customer walked in hopeful I could squeeze one solitary diner in for  dinner.  He looked tired. In need of care and nourishment.  He was a judge and involved in a particularly long and unpleasant court case.  I couldn’t send him away. Into the dark night.   Hungry.   He had his responsibilities and we had ours.  And ours was to feed the hungry . To nourish their souls. 

“I have one table.  You won’t be able to order off the menu.  It’s crowded.  A bit hectic and definitely on the warm side, but I can promise you, you won’t leave hungry.”

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 I sat him at a table barely large  enough to hold a plate and a glass of wine.  Wedged into a corner, his knees tucked in to avoid flying waiters, our kitchen began to feed this hungry soul.  As each order was filled a nibble of this a taste of that landed on the best table that didn’t exist.

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He watched the ballet of kitchen.  The line working quietly in perfect unison.  As carefully choreographed as a ballet.   Night after night the dance is repeated.  Everyone knows the steps.   Quiet, calm, and the occasional laugh as waiters and chefs worked together.  We were a family.

Our customer finished his meal.  Then sat late into  the evening, reluctant to leave the warmth and comradeship he had experienced at “the best table in-house”.  The table that didn’t exist.

This is a blog from several years ago.  I love that ROXY’S BISTRO still exists in the memories of those who dined in our restaurant and those who worked with us and shared our passion.   The hours were long.  There were few days off and even less holidays but for my husband and myself they were absolutely the best working days of our life.   And  happy  the two line chefs in the above photograph of the kitchen are still part of our lives.