Restaurant Curbside Service: The New Normal

Last week — aka “several lifetimes ago” — I got a press release from Pearl at Longshore. The restaurant had a new executive chef. That week, he’d introduce a new seasonal menu.

I don’t run press releases. But I knew that Pearl had recently renovated its interior and made other changes.

That made for a perfect “06880” story: the challenges facing a restaurant with a very good reputation, in a location that for many Westporters is out of sight most of the year.

I made plans to chat with owners Marc and Lois Backon on Saturday. By then — just a few days later — life had changed dramatically. But the Westport couple were upbeat about the future. Pearl was still poised to forge ahead. I got ready to write.

Pearl at Longshore’s dining room is now closed.

Two days after that, things changed even more dramatically.

With restaurants restricted to curbside takeout and delivery only, Pearl joined dozens of other Westport establishments in a new world order. I figured my story was as old as last week’s news.

Yesterday morning, a very generous reader offered to use her credit card for dinner for me at — what a coincidence! — Pearl.

It was an offer too good to pass up. I gratefully accepted.

I checked out the menu online. At 5 p.m., I called it in: thyme-roasted salmon, with a side of crispy brussels sprouts. They said it would be ready at 5:30.

I preferred 6:15. They were happy to accommodate that. I should just call when I got there.

At 6:15 sharp, I pulled into the nearly empty lot. I called.

Moments later, David Donnelly — one of the managers — opened the door. He came out. Wearing gloves, and keeping his distance, he set the bag down. (Technically, I guess that makes it “step-side,” not curbside.)

I drove home. I enjoyed the very tasty (and healthful) salmon and sprouts.

Salmon with baby beets and top, shaved asparagus, Mt. Shasta wild rice and dill champagne sauce; brussels sprouts with crispy chickpeas, tzatziki and smoked paprika.

Would I have enjoyed it much more inside, sharing one of Pearl’s new booths with friends, or outside in one of the comfy chairs they installed a couple of weeks ago?

Absolutely.

But that’s not a choice now. And if enough Westporters take advantage of takeout dining, there’s a much better chance that Pearl — and other restaurants all around town — will be here this summer, to welcome us back in.

(For a list of restaurants and markets serving curbside meals, and/or delivering, click here.)

6 responses to “Restaurant Curbside Service: The New Normal

  1. Great article and great advice. I’m glad you had a nice dinner!

  2. Danielle Dobin

    That looks amazing!! So excited to try their new menu.

  3. Wendy Cusick

    This is not to Josh Stein. I just went for lunch at Stew Leonard’s. I asked the Chef now why the hot bar was closed it was open yesterday. He said because the State didn’t warn us in time yesterday to prepack the hot food. They let us keep it open as long as we kept an eye on it.
    **Now all hot and cold it has to be prepacked from today (March 18) onward.**
    Also the shelves are stocked, they’re doing the best they can with chicken, so everyone who wants or needs food, stop on by.
    Stew Leonard’s is considered a Mom and Pop store too.

  4. Carol Waxman

    Just heard on npr that a bottle of wine may
    be ordered with a meal from NYC restaurants
    for pick up(or delivery). This will help
    restaurants to lower inventory. Is it possible
    for Connecticut restaurants to do the same?

  5. Hi Dan-

    If any Westporters are without health insurance, they can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2nd:

    https://www.wtnh.com/news/health/access-health-ct-launches-special-open-enrollment-period-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/

    Feel free to give me a call to discuss…203-803-0105.

    Best,

    Mary Jennings

    Certified Access Health CT Broker

    Westport, CT

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