If 2021 gets to have a musical motto, I nominate an upbeat Beatles tune refrain, “It’s getting better all the time.” Having emerged from a year that upended virtually every daily routine – including how and what and where and when we ate – people are excited (and a bit cautious) about socializing and dining out. Restaurants and bars, which have adapted to ever-evolving needs and preferences of guests, are helping people redefine the “new normal” in familiar and welcoming surroundings.
Although Pennsylvania’s guest capacity restrictions lifted on May 31, some establishments are opting for a gradual approach to reaching 100%, and new or expanded outdoor dining areas increase airy seating options. Unexpectedly, wedding-style tents that popped up in restaurant parking lots have become popular destinations in their own rite. With heating options, some may stay around well beyond the first frost (or snowfall).
A major uptick in food to-go, from casual eats to fancy fare, entails multiple choices: Coming inside to pick up orders, curbside delivery to your vehicle, or home delivery, often from a partnering service. Efficient and streamlined online ordering keeps these amenities happily practicable for both restaurants and customers. Check websites and Facebook for new features and frequent updates. Several places profiled in this issue of Good Taste offer changing take-out meals on specific days.
Each profile also highlights a “Special Diet Menu Item” for vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian tastes. The tag “gluten-free” typically indicates the dish was prepared without added gluten. However, those with serious gluten-related medical conditions such as celiac disease should be aware that inadvertent gluten cross-contact may occur in both home and professional kitchens. (Visit beyondceliac.org for more info.)
To up your home cooking game, peruse the recipe section for top-shelf cocktails and chef-crafted starters, condiments, main dishes and desserts. When serving these delectables on your backyard patio, the warm summer sunshine will feel like a friendly hug from Mother Nature. She still loves you. And so do your favorite restaurants.