Restaurants serve important functions in society in addition to serving us food.
We celebrate the big moments of our lives in restaurants, from birthdays and new jobs to wedding receptions and anniversaries. Getting dressed up, spending money and being treated well at a top-notch restaurant makes any special occasion more special.
We travel the world in restaurants. If not for restaurants I’d never have tried food from India, Korea, Greece, Germany or dozens of other countries. I’d never have known the gap between amazing Italian dishes and spaghetti on the stove-top or between a world-class steak and something I grill at home.
We escape our daily routines in restaurants. No matter how crummy our day is, things always brighten up when we drop into a restaurant with friends, get waited on, have someone else cook our food and leave without cleaning up.
Restaurants help bring excitement to neighborhoods. Entertainment districts like Hyde Park Square, MainStrasse, Oakley, Newport on the Levee and Northside are active in part because of all the cool restaurants there. There’s no denying that the new eating spots around Fountain Square have energized that part of downtown.
Restaurants help us connect. In CityBeat’s Swizzle Bar Guide in February, Elizabeth Wu wrote about “third places,” cafes and other public spaces where people naturally interact (besides home and work). Given our increasingly isolated world of Twitter and cell phones, restaurants literally put us in touch with each other.
Restaurants employ us. It’s practically a rite of passage to wait tables while in school or when you’re between jobs or when you need income while trying to make the band thing work. Just about everyone’s waited tables at some point in their lives — that’s why you should always tip well.
Restaurants inspire us. Preparing food is way more than just a job to chefs Jean-Robert de Cavel (Pigall’s, JeanRo Bistro, Lavomatic); Julie Francis (Nectar); Patrick McCafferty (Slims); David Falk (Boca, Nada); Sean Daley (Hugo); Nick Tolbert (Midnight Gourmet); and hundreds of others like them in this region. They’ve built entire careers, and in some cases impressive businesses, from their love of the kitchen and desire to share their skill with others.
Restaurants make us feel better. In our recent Best of Cincinnati issue, CityBeat’s dining writers did a roundup of local spots serving comfort food, defined as unpretentious fare that’s simple and cheap and helps us deal with stress. And the current economic meltdown is pretty stressful.
So do everyone a favor and go support a local restaurant tonight — we have 275 recommendations in the 2009 Dining Guide out this week. They could use the business, and you could use some inspiration.
CONTACT JOHN FOX: [email protected]