Let me talk about how much I hate the food selection around me. As a young kid, you don't really take into account that all the major chain restaurants are boring as hell after a while. They all serve the same food and I'm almost certain that most of what's being served is just microwaved. Sure, it's probably a few steps above fast food, but I don't think it's that much higher up. This is all coming from someone who has spent less than 5 hours in the restaurant industry. For all I know, I'm completely wrong and someone reading this is a line cook at one of these lovely establishments. One thing that's for sure is that if I ever really voiced any of these concerns in person, I'd probably get spit on my food. It's probably on there anyway.
Watching Anthony Bourdain's adventures on the Travel Channel doesn't make me feel any better. I look at the amazing places he visits around the world and only dream that I could eat there. Everything looks incredible and I'm filled with rage. I look at my refrigerator and am completely disgusted with it. Where's the suckling pig? Does it hold any science crafted foods that are taking the culinary world by storm? Hell, can it produce for me the tastiest burger I've bitten into in years? The answer is always no. I know I'm being too harsh on my fridge and this speaks more about my skill as a cook than it does about the contents of my fridge. I'm sorry fridge; you're awesome. You keep my food nice and cool and my cold drinks at the perfect temperature. I'm the lazy guy who doesn't take time to prepare his dinners. It's also the reason why I know most of the chain restaurants suck.
But, every once in a while, there are those local places that pop out and have you keep coming back. Places that you think are a secret to everyone else. You're even afraid to say its name out loud because that would garner enough attention from your friends, and they'll tell their friends, and so on until you have to call three weeks in advance for a reservation at the place you hung out at before it was cool. It's honestly the same way I feel about music. Does that make me a restaurant hipster snob? Probably.
One of my new favorite places is Barrique in Babylon. Even writing about it here is going against my whisper rule. As a Long Islander, it's tough to find a good restaurant. If you live here, you know it's overrun with all those chains and Italian restaurants. This place was a breath of fresh air. Completely rustic looking, it feels out of place on this island. The side entrance and the alley it hides in makes me feel like I'm not here anymore; like I've been transported to France for the night. There's also the amazing wine selection and the great ways the staff figures out which one would suit you best. Let's not forget their cheese selection. Holy crap, I never thought I could love cheese, ever, but that aged gouda got me hooked and nothing else will do.
That's enough about my new favorite restaurant. I won't tell you about the other's that I love. The wait at Barrique is already long enough. Good thing I know the bartender. Go out and find a new place to eat.