Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked. "We can finally go out to eat again", it's not officially summer until my father, a South Floridian of almost 40 years, sings these words.
I'm sure most of you share his sentiment, probably aren't as anxious as we in the kitchen are for the arrival of our northen patrons. I'm sure you all didn't throw any confitte at your bar-b-ques last weekend. But ask any of your acquaintances on the line--the new season is finally here!
The official surge won't hit until around holiday time but as we change menus, tweak recipes, stock up inventory, the ticket machine will steadily get a little more action over the next couple weeks. Though this is great for us on the line, the hardship now is on the locals who've been able to grab a table fairly easily these last couple months. Don't think we in the industry don't know you locals are our life line. You keep our doors open all summer long so for you here are some ways to Avoid The Flock of Snowbirds.
Avoid The Chains. (That's right. I said it. What?) The ones that travel with the whole clan, grandparents, baby, dog, don't care where or what they eat so long as they don't piss off their little ticks--I mean tikes. They'll go with what's familiar and casual with the whole brewd.
Booth, hightop, highchair, wherever! Chances are you'll be seated sooner if you don't care where. On a busy night, a couple seats at the bar can even be the best seats in the house. After all the bartender is always a couple feet away, you'll always have a full drink, and the kitchen always makes sure someone runs the orders out to the bar.
Go West. While everyone runs for the tables with an ocean view you're missing some inland treasures that don't charge for the view or parking! After all you are a Floridian, you probably see the ocean going to work, running errands or jogging.
Don't Go Hungry. (A la The Chinese Restraunt episode.) So you couldn't avoid it. It's just safer to always assume you're going to have to wait anywhere you go. Think about it this way--when you do get a table if the dining room is full can you imagine what the board and oven look like?
The Ultimate Tip! There's always Boynton. This comes from years of living and working there. It's amazing how those places clear out once the early bird menus are locked away for the night.