In ancient Rome, if a farmer’s horreum – his barn – got blown down in a – tempestas – a storm – he knew it was time to repair that barn. One of the words he could use to describe the work was the verb Restaurare (reh-sto-rah-reh) – to restore.
That probably made his cows, horses, and pigs very happy.
A couple of thousand years later, around 1765, a French man named A. Boulanger in Paris decided some people, hungry travelers and underfed peasants, needed restoring with good food.
Mr. Boulanger, however, was not shy about making money with his good deed. He built a little shop not far from the king’s palace (the Louvre) where he sold good soup. He named his little establishment “Food that Restores” – Restaurant.
Just like you, me, and every good French man and woman of the day, he knew his Latin.
Now you know the rest of the story. It’s not quite the same as that ancient Roman farmer who restored his barn to make his cows, horses, and pigs happy, but something about feeding those little piggies reminds me of taking my kids to a restaurant when they were too little for good manners. It wasn’t always a “restoring” experience.
So, this week, your Jamestown Gazette takes a look at our own local places of restoration. But stated that way, a restaurant sounds a little like a filling station for empty tanks, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, by today’s definition, a restaurant is much more. It’s a beanery, an eatery, a café (or if you’re British, a caff), a diner, a grill, or even a candle-lit rendezvous.
Sometimes the food comes in the back door of the eatery on a big truck and is delivered to you through your car window. Other times, the food comes from distant, exotic places, is prepared by artisans, served on fine china, and costs almost as much as your car.
If you’re in the mood for the kind of adventure that you can’t find in town, though, consider these:
Try Twin Stars in Moscow, Russia. This is the only restaurant in Russia, and probably the whole world, that hires only identical twins to wait tables. If the service is bad, it’s hard to tell who to blame. To make your reservation, call +7 495 215-14-40 (check the time zone of you want an answer).
Dinner in the Sky is a little more daring if you are in Paris, London, or Dubai according to restaurateur David Ghysels. Guests are hoisted by a crane 165 feet in the air at table bolted to a platform. A staff of five – chefs, waiters, and performers – stand in the center while strapped-in diners swivel 180 degrees to enjoy the bustling city below. Prices for dinner start at $30,000. (Careful how you tip!)
Or drink you milk, it’s made from insects, naturally, at Grubb Hub, on Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa. They invite you to enjoy gourmet meals made from alternative, insect-based ingredients in their “stylish, innovative, and experiential way.” Try the chickpea black-fly-larvae croquettes, polenta fries made from mopane worm flour, and mealworm biscuits. Or don’t. Check them out at https://gourmetgrubb.com/.
No place in Jamestown, or anywhere in Chautauqua County, Cattaraugus County or Warren, PA that we know of, can quite match those dining thrills, but today’s cover story invites you to meet some of the fine restauranteurs who have been serving us outstanding meals, home-cooked specialties, and gourmet cuisine for years and decades, each in their own special way, satisfying us and our tens-of-thousands of visitors every year.
Enjoy being restored, and enjoy the read. It’s good food for thought this week.