At the beginning of last summer, I wanted to be a chef. At the end, I did not. I worked pantry at The Narrows, the higher-end restaurant at the Shore Lodge, and I kind of got my chef heart broken. It wasn’t as exciting as I imagined, it wasn’t as glorious as I imagined, it wasn’t as creative as I imagined. I’d just interned at Nectar, a deceptively wonderful introduction into the food world. I only went for a few hours, a few times a week, during dinner rush; during the most exciting and best time in a restaurant. I usually didn’t do much prep or much cleaning, which turned out to be ninety percent of restaurant cooking. I wasn’t around long enough to get completely totally bored with everything on the menu. And I was cooking, like, actually cooking with pans and fire, not arranging baby romaine and cheese plates. So The Narrows was a little bit of a reality check. A harsh one at the time, and a much appreciated one now. I belong in my own kitchen, burning rice and eating raw asparagus, not in a restaurant kitchen, yelling and sweating and staying inspired to make the same thing day after day after day. I want to taste beautiful food and write about it more than I want to slave over it. I wish I was a badass chick chef slinging hot pans around and smaking down perfect dishes, but I’m not. I’m a greedy little eater who wants to have foie gras made by the badass chef brought out to her. So not surprisingly, I loved the Narrows a lot more from the other side.

When we first sat down at our big round table looking out at the big glossy lake, and I felt a little out of place. I’ve only ever known the Shore Lodge from the back side: the secret employee doors, the secret employee hallways, the secret employee dining room perched on the roof. And only ever as an employee, running late for work, wearing rented whites, bouncing up and down the stairs from kitchen to kitchen with provisions. But then we started getting the Narrows service, constantly full glasses of water, well thought out silverware, friendly waitstaff. Greedy eater me was made very comfortable. After a mouthwatering menu read-over, we started the long process of ordering. First came a little ex-employee special; grilled apricots filled with goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic reduction (I remember making that. Aka I remember making that and forgetting about it and winding up with ultra-ultra-concentrated balsamic.) Really good.

Then… foie gras. Lordy. Could foie gras ever not be good? Sounds gross, tastes like heaven. With bacon and toast? Well, alright then. If you’re already being decadent, might as well be dec-a-dent. Then ahi poke, topped with candied macadamias and accompanied by a little bright green swirl of seaweed salad. Light and perfect. Another raw one, steak tartare, capery and bright and just right. Baked clams and mussels (which Uncle Ross and I may have hogged a tiny bit) laced with a delightfully generous amount of garlic and a big handful of bacon… chunks. (Technical epicurean term.)

Then lovelies, as if we hadn’t had enough; dinner. Ribeye with the best more-than-baked beans ever for Pa n’ Gma, vegetable napoleon with awesome romesco (I remembered this always selling out… I see why), Bouillabaisse for Ross (shellfish app drew him in), and quail for me because A. who can resist something like quail, and B. it came highly recommended. Two tiny little once-creatures, stuffed near popping with creamy goat cheese, rubbed with chile, roasted. On top of pan-fried parm gnocci and the best sauteed mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. (Until yesterday… when Mom made morels…)

We were all silent for a solid five minutes, obsessing over our food, indulging. Then (yes, then, another then) dessert. I like going to dinner with Uncle Ross, because Uncle Ross always, always gets dessert. And makes it sound so reasonable and rational to do the same–and so crazy to abstain–that you can’t help but order along with him and somehow try to muster up a little more hunger. Not such a difficult feat when faced with blueberry creme brulee and peach blackberry cobbler. And a little cup of French press. And a lot of foodie contentment, a pretty good portion of nostalgia, and a healthy serving of some kind of closure. I’m an eater, not a maker; a front of house girl not a kitchen dweller; a writer, not a cook. And that’s just right.

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