Counter Envy

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by counter seating no matter where.  I would always look wistfully on as people would come in sit down and interact with all of the people behind the counter.  They would banter and seem to be having a much better time than I was at some boring old table with my family.  This only intensified whenever we ate at Japanese restaurants.  I mean what more sublime an expression of counter seating is there than sitting at a sushi bar?  It’s a good thing I didn’t know about tapas or robata bars then, I might have gone on a homicidal rampage.  Oh, I wanted to sit up there on a stool, swivelling back and forth watching the world go by.

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Eating, after all, is often a social activity.  What better way to interact with everyone than sitting at a counter or bar, not only talking with your dining companions, but also the people who make it possible as well as your fellow patrons?  Watching the ballet of kitchen and bar, to really gain an appreciation of all that it takes to bring you what you’re ordered.

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Sometimes it’s a simple greeting or a long involved conversation, something is almost always gained from the give and take.  Perhaps you might get to see up close a show by the chef or bartender as they prepare what will soon appear before you.

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Maybe, you get to marvel at the artistry of someone pursuing their craft in search of something great.

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Sometimes, you also get to look around at your fellow reprobates, and realize that you are not alone in your love of what brought you to that seat.

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You feel a sense of community, a feeling that in some ways, this is what it’s all about.  There’s an entire world there at that stool.  You just have to dive into it and let yourself take part.  Perhaps you’ll learn something you never know about what you’re about to eat or drink.  You might meet a kindred soul and chatter away like the best of friends.  You might get a chance to find out how exactly to make that dish or drink you’ve been racking your brain to puzzle out.  But more likely than not, you’ll enjoy yourself.  Got a favourite experience at a stool?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Counter Envy

  1. Good to see you blogging! Nice work…and see you soon in Seattle, I imagine…maybe even at a counter! 🙂

  2. thegastrognome

    That is a beautiful pic of the sushi being sliced!

  3. Malarkey

    Early favorite counter experience: The Chef, in Manhattan, KS, where I started undergraduate studies. It ONLY had a counter, no booths, no tables. One big horseshoe shaped counter. The waitresses yelled your order back to the chef while writing out your ticket in front of you. Awesome.

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