Written by Sanford Begley
We had lunch at a hole in the wall we love yesterday, Chateaux Beirut in West Chester, Ohio. A place that looks like it belongs in a bad movie from the 50s about delinquents. The food however, is superb. It’s a Lebanese family restaurant. Papa runs the family businesses, including a very good Halal market. Mama does the cooking. The children, who are adults or very close, serve and do the other chores.
Why do we love the place? Well the food is, as I said earlier, superb. The prices are more than reasonable. For $6.99 you can get a huge gyro, seasoned fries, and a drink. That particular combo is my favorite and difficult for me to pass up. Yesterday we decided to branch out and got a house special, several meats like Shawarma and Kefta Kebab served on a bed of rice with a nice light salad served beforehand. The meats were fantastic and the rice had me raving, me who thinks rice is filler!
After the meal and a chat with Papa, including getting information on when he was getting more goat and a leg of lamb in, we left the restaurant and headed home. The only word to describe the way I felt is replete. We spent some time in the car talking about how good it was and discussing recreating some of it at home.
From there the conversation segued into talk about other favorite restaurants. We love exotic foods. Well for some values of exotic. Kebabs, curries, and oriental dishes were extremely exotic in Ohio when I was young. Now they are becoming almost standard. Even the ubiquitous Taco Bell was an unknown in Ohio back in the day. The only place a boy living in the countryside could get tacos was at carnivals. God those greasy fiery things were delicious.
Friends of ours (shameless namedropping, one is Peter Grant, the noted Indie Science Fiction author) are coming to the area soon. They have business in the area, but are going to make sure we can get together for some good times and conversation. Like most older
Americans Sensible folks (as Peter is South African) our idea of good times revolves around food more than alcohol.
When we heard which hotel they intended to use while here we reached the decision about where dinner would be independently, instantly, and mutually. They will be staying nearby. Upon hearing that we knew we would have to share Yung’s Café in Fairborn Ohio. Excellent Korean food, the Bulgogi is wonderful as is everything else we have tried. Like the Chateaux Beirut which started this post, the patrons are heavily ethnic and from the area where the restaurant’s cuisines represent.
What does all this rambling have to do with chasing the perfect meal? Well, we look for good food. And occasionally we are thrilled with the food at a given time and place. The food at the places I recommended here is always good, but it will never live up to that perfect meal of memory. Well not until next time something is perfect. You see, memory does funny things and the same food done equally well cannot compete with the memory of perfection. So we will always be chasing the perfect meal, and never truly catching it.