Mediterranean Bistro – October 2019 (dt)
aka The Backhoe Dinner
7.31 – 7.5, 7.5, 7.4, 7.3, 7.3, 7.25, 7.25, 7

A pleasant early-mid October evening found DP8 following the Teator car onto Catskill’s Main Street, settling close to Mediterranean Bistro, the former 394 Main.

MB occupies a small footprint, perhaps a capacity of 25 plus bar seating of another half dozen. So, a table for eight comprised a sizeable grouping, ten feet inside the open doorway, three feet away from the bar. Cozy, indeed.

The menu is a compact one, with perhaps ten entrées, three salads, a half-dozen appetizers, and four sandwiches, along with specials of two appetizers and two entrées. Choices for the evening included:

All, yes all, were considered excellent.

The preceding appetizer course:

All were deemed excellent.

Within minutes of seating, server Kelsey had delivered two napkin-wrapped baskets of a pita bread, accompanied by two rectangular dipping bowls of olive oil and pepper.

The dessert course was a brief one, perhaps four items, read by Kelsey. I normally like printed lists but her comment that the rice pudding was superb swayed three.

            The rice pudding was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the terrine. Nothing was said about the Sambuca; I am assuming the peaceful smiles and relaxed bodies boded well.

The wine selection was also somewhat limited but all of it displayed on the wall sign, with half of the wines designated a house wine, with prices, most of them $29 a bottle. Six red drinkers consumed two bottles of Love Story 2016 Pinot Noir from a northeast Italian district – a big pinot noir and quite likeable.

Service by Kelsey was excellent, and we liked a bit of irreverent attitude, especially at Ken’s expense, and possibly mine. Efficiency, attentiveness, conversational without being cloying, a definite humor. And she was busy also, with every table filled, with one other server. Ken’s coffee was filled regularly, plates cleared appropriately, most meals remembered who ordered what, water glasses filled, etc.

Ambiance was cozy. The exterior was two store-front windows, each large enough to seat a two person table behind it, on either side of the entry door, which was open all evening. Exposed dark beams gave a sense of Catskill history, but none of us knew prior uses of the building more than a couple decades. Yellow string lighting lined the beams that complemented the side lighting. Spare, four narrow legged, lightly padded chairs were sufficient while not cluttering the visuals. Different colored walls, especially the Moroccan blue, interspersed with the specials board, the wine board, a colorful map of the Mediterranean area gave a current air.
            A bar occupies the rear left of the room with the kitchen and bathrooms beyond that. When full, the room was somewhat noisy and yet we were able to hear most of the time from Chay end to Don end. ‘Tis a comfortable niche for Catskill’s Main Street.

Pacing seemed comfortable enough, with bill payment coming just under the two hour mark.
$120 per couple, one of the higher bills recently, took care of expenses. Northward, into the darkness, we embarked.

We had met at the Notars for convenience sake, admired the Monteverd new attractive-blue auto, and paired off the two driving cars. Talks in the cars and at MB covered the usual range and then some: the delightful weather this past month, the Notar cruise along the New England coast to Halifax where they met with the Wexlers, the Karnes trip to KC and Omaha and enough sites for Deb to check off two more states of the 50 (she was not aware the trip was for her doing that; only two states left), details of KC baseball and delayed flight, under the weather for Mark & Joyce & Deb K recently and perhaps currently, the upcoming Teator Viking River Cruise from Prague to Paris, the departure of the Monteverds to Florida the morning after dinner, the return of the Monteverds in time for November DP8, details of our next DP8 date or three, yard cleanup, Ken’s placement of machines in the basement, well-being of Phil & Bunny, server Kelsey’s tattoos (and Ken checking them out), the Windham Affair this weekend, the Food Truck Main Street festival in Catskill a month ago or so, flagging golf games (people have to be home to play!), Don’s historian award and front page splashes, recognition for DP8 200th article still coming in, Kriss dealing with Yvonne in Florida, Deb’s complete sellout of quilting and sewing material at Lifetime sale, Deb K’s Christmas cookie baking venture, Mark’s update on the house-flipping, and the list goes on for a while.
            We made mention of the Teator connection to the owners of MB. Denise grew up on Red Mill Rd, worked at Freehold Country Inn, joined Salah in an Accord (Ulster Co) restaurant for over a decade, before establishing in Catskill. Salah was a chef at the County Inn, perhaps our favorite dining site in our 17 years history. Nathan went to school with server Kelsey’s older sister, and on it goes. And my brother Ron has kept in touch with Denise over the years. Deb and I had wanted to share in Denise’s success with a DP8 visit.
            But all of this, everything above, was overshadowed by two highly unusual happenings.
            One, we had all finished our appetizers except for Ken, as anyone eating with us knows, and knows we are fine with everyone’s pacing. But Ken left the perfectly halved dates, with traces of orange and carrot, four of them, on the side of his plate, as if he was not going to eat them. Don’s inquiry about Ken’s desire to consume the dates (a grunt ‘No’) and Don’s request, with abject forgiveness, with Ken’s permission to perhaps take one. People in the know are aware that this is like treading on the edge of death. Assuming the grunt was an assent, Don took one date, careful not to touch anything else on the plate, and found it delightful. Don took a second. Six other heads spun around, Exorcist-esque, mouths agape at this first-time ever event. Then, Deb Karnes asked if she could have the other two, a request that Ken fulfilled by handing Deb his plate. We are still pinching ourselves if we did not dream this.
            And then, then, a conversation took off innocently, commiserating with the marital troubles of a friend of a few of us, how unfair, how loony the situation is, and how could men do that. And a comment was made about we men never ever thinking about this, or doing anything like this. Well,… Chay remembered Ken having a big backhoe, now put away in the basement, perhaps, but that perhaps it might be used for a big enough hole to enclose a misbehaving Kriss. Shoccckkkk! We laughed, and before Ken could deny he would ever think of such a thing, Mark suggested a two-fer was a possibility. If Joyce was feeling better, she would have done more than roll her eyes. And then Chay remembered Kriss’ offer of a neighbor’s giveaway of two large cardboard compartments, which conveniently, Chay thought, would be the enclosure of certain objects for the backhoe to cover up. Then Chay renamed our group DP4, for that would be all that would left if this was carried out. This was all so bizarre, and so humorously taken, and much out of character for this well-behaved, prim and proper group that we nicknamed this DP8 event, the Backhoe Dinner. Stayed tuned for next month, when the Monteverds return just in time for November DP8, if Kriss returns. (Do I hear giggling a long ways off?!)