Our favorite restaurants meet a few criteria: a price we can justify for an evening meal, modest decor, a comfortable atmosphere, the owner is the chef, or is, as least related to him/her, and, of course, delicious food that we couldn't create at home. In fact, this has been my biggest complaint about life in Metrowest: while so many "drive-worthy" places fit the bill, we have yet to establish a good restaurant for those weekday occasions.
When we decided it was time to branch out to babysitters beyond my mother we found ourselves facing all the standard dilemmas and apprehensions of any new parent: was she CPR certified? Would we see her face staring at us from America's Most Wanted? Would R. be happy? Take his bottle? Complain about these nights years later to some overpriced therapist? Once in fact, references were checked, e-mails were exchanged, interviews were complete, and I subjected her to a 3 page set of directions, Jay and I were ready to go out.
However, we were still left with the true foodie/mommy dilemma: where should we go? Clearly, as it was going to be our first real time out, we wanted to stay local. I suspect that for most parents this would have been an easy decision: simply head out to Route 9 and make a night of eating Bertucci's rolls. Or, alternatively, accept the mediocre food in the town center as a trade off for Korean jap chae and a low-stress evening, knowing one could race home in minutes.
But, no, such a decision was, for me, monumental. I spent, not one, not two, but three nights on-line, scanning the web in the vague hope that there was a restaurant that met our requirements (or at least a few!) By the end, I was left with a long list of kid-friendly, overpriced chains; mediocre but locally owned Americanized ethnic eateries and some unknown Brazilian restaurants in Framingham. On paper, or at least, on line, some of those looked promising-unique menus, good recommendations by friends, still only 10 minutes away. But, the number of dishes that included pork (which neither of us eat) and seafood (which Jay avoids) meant that it would be another night of...grilled chicken.
Suffice to say, at that point, the mommy in me won out. So, Jay and I returned, yet again, to our standby: Firefly's in Framingham. The restaurant is always friendly and reliable for rich cornbread, homemade pickles, moist chicken and Jay's favorite: pecan coated sweet potatoes. Sure we could have brought R. with us, but at least it was a date, not so far from home.
However, if you do know of somewhere, please, please do share.