Throughout the warm weather season of 2020, our patio was our restaurant, café, and cocktail bar. We would spend a lot of time outside in the fresh air and the gas grill got a lot of use. Eating out at restaurants was pretty much closed down in the early part of the pandemic and as government guidelines emerged, most restaurants scrambled to adapt to the “new normal”. During the shutdown phase many of our local restaurants tried take-out only service and our two local favorites, Fireside and Norm’s White Horse did their best to keep going. We supported them by ordering food at least once a week, always leaving a generous gratuity to support them.
When outdoor dining became the only acceptable method, many local restaurants put together innovative outdoor dining capabilities. Tents and tables in parking lots became common everywhere. Our favorite local, Fireside did a great job blocking off part of their parking lot and erecting a large tent adjacent to their existing patio. We would go there almost every week, but we could not have our typical Friday gathering of friends because of table capacity limits. Another local restaurant, The Tuscan Kitchen, set up a huge function tent with outdoor bar and a mobile wood-fired pizza oven. This place was extremely popular, and it was called “Il Giardino”.
Fireside Restaurant, Methuen, MA
Our local pub style restaurant, a little over a mile from our home.
The Tuscan Kitchen has a very extensive menu mostly Tuscan-Italian cuisine. It is somewhat upscale, but very popular. We haven't experienced their full menu since we are happy to get just an appetizer, salad and their wood-fired Margherita pizza. They also have their own craft gin along with their gorgonzola stuffed olives, which makes great Martini's! Oh, and don't forget the fresh baked artisan breads.
R. I. P. Norms White Horse
Another favorite local, Norms, closed its doors in August. This pub has been around for about 60 years. Not a fancy place, but the food was amazing. Our favorites included; lobster rolls, lobster tacos, fish tacos, pan seared scallops with spinach ravioli, "Chicken Barb" sandwich (a local staple) and a seafood chowder to die for! Norms will be missed.
Back to our patio, it is such a quiet, relaxing place to have morning coffee, listening to the songbirds, and enjoying the garden flowers. In the afternoon, with a glass of wine or a cocktail, all the world’s problems seem so distant. Then it is time to fire-up the grill, dinner choices would always be enhanced with fresh herbs from the garden. A couple of sprigs of thyme and chopped rosemary on grill roasted new potatoes, fresh basel for the Caprese salad, parsley and chives to enhance a salad, all good!
Enjoying Our Patio Dining
A Special Treat
At least once each summer we have a "Clam Bake" on the patio. This year we got live lobsters and clams then steamed them in a large pot on the grill. As always, a very special treat. We get our lobsters from a local, well stocked lobster pound, Shyers.
As the leaves began falling and the temperatures dropped, it was time to close the patio for the season. Our first snow on October 30th hastened the end of the patio season, the furniture was put away in the cellar, awning stowed, grill covered, time to move indoors. At the same time our local restaurants began taking down the outdoor facilities, as a long, difficult winter has set in.
By the early April, we will open the patio again and we must be hopeful that things will be much better for all of us.