Eating Out After Lockdown

I don’t lead a very exciting life. I rarely venture further than the supermarket in Dereham, and my trips to the city of Norwich can be counted on my fingers after eight years of living in Norfolk. That’s fine with me, and a choice, not a complaint. But one thing I do like to do at least once a month is to eat out in a restaurant.

Until last night, the last time I had been able to do that was on my birthday in March. Now some of the restaurants around here are opening up again. At least those that can arrange their seating to allow for social distancing, and presumably expect to still be able to make a profit with the reduction in customers. A few have remained open throughout, but only for collection and delivery of takeaway food.

Spice Fusion is the best of a few Indian restaurants within an easy drive of Beetley. During lockdown it has remained as busy and popular as ever, by offering a takeaway and delivery service. Last week it opened its doors to diners for the first time in four months. Due to reduced opening hours, we went fairly early, making sure to ring and book a table the day before. Inside, social distancing and safety measures were impressive. Clear plastic screens had been installed between all the tables, most of which were now next the walls and along the large window. Staff were all wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer between serving different diners. The menu cards were plasic, and had all been sanitized before being handed to customers. There was a one-way system for entry and exit too.

The manager and waiters were all pleased to see us, and very welcoming. No doubt they had been concerned whether or not the regulars would return to sit-down dining after such a long break. With the food as fresh and tasty as we remembered, and a convivial atmosphere with four other tables also occupied, it was a most enjoyable evening.

We were home before 8:30 pm though. No point in overdoing it! πŸ™‚

89 thoughts on “Eating Out After Lockdown

  1. This is such great news. I told you the day would come. It’s interesting to note the screens, I haven’t seen those in cafes but we have them at checkouts. Staff don’t wear masks but apparently it’s becoming compulsory in Melbourne. Masks weren’t politicised here, I guess we just didn’t have enough initially and people took to wearing them if they had a cold or were Asians who knew all too well about SARS and MERS or just smoke pollution I guess. We had them for meeting people out front at work and I suspect we will be wearing them more in the future. Other than that, plastic menu sheets and hand sanitizer in use just like you. I imagine you’ve been shut down longer with more cases so this is of course a much bigger deal. Both scarier and more joyful. I am glad to hear all went well. What did you get? I imagine you’re too much of a regular to get something like my favourite butter chicken? Did you get any take away since March or was this the first time you’d eaten their dishes since your birthday? Any chance of a picture of you with your lovely wife? Anyway stay safe, very happy for you and…best wishes Pete. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never take ‘restaurant photos’, Lloyd. Must be a generational thing. πŸ™‚
      I had Chicken Pakora as a starter, followed by Tandoori Mixed Grill. That is 1/4 of a chicken on the bone, chicken breast chunks, lamb chunks, and two huge prawns, all served sizzling with onions, and covered in the tandoori spices. For a side dish I ordered Sag Paneer (spinach with cheese) and a large Garlic Naan bread. Julie had Chicken Chat to start, then Lamb Biryani.
      We have had two takeaways from the same place since March. The food is still good, and you get it cheaper too. But even a 10-minute drive makes it lukewarm, and it’s not the sort of food that is good heated up.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmmm. I don’t have Indian but damn that sounds good. I don’t take photos every time I eat out but the occasion might have merited it on this case. Plus your fans would have enjoyed it. πŸ™‚ Best wishes to you and Julie, Pete. How’s Ollie doing?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful Mr. Pete! Did you feel a slice of β€œnormal”? It sounds as if they were prepared well and made your experience a great one! I used to take eating out for granted~although I don’t very often. Things are changing here. Restrictions reappearing due to quick spread again. I can’t shop in any Wal-Mart or many other stores without a mask beginning July 20th. I expect to see more restrictions in dining again. Some just don’t use common sense. So happy for the date you had! Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s the little things that are truly the big things, and should be appreciated. I’m glad you had an enjoyable night of dining out. We haven’t ventured out to restaurants as yet… soon. Best to you, Pete.

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  4. I think one thing the virus has taught us all is not to take the simple pleasures of life for granted. I’m glad you had such a pleasant evening.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Restaurants are either open (with social distancing measures in place), or are delivering curbside, here in Las Vegas. Liquor stores post mandatory mask requirements on their door. These days, if someone is not wearing a mask, he’s probably a bandit.

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  6. I had not heard of plastic sheeting between tables, but that is an excellent idea given what they now understand about the virus indoors. We have no such thing here and continue to get food to go on rare occasions. Mostly I am cooking dinner each night.

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  7. Sounds wonderful Pete. I like all the safety measures they took, especially the screens in between the tables. We’ve mostly been doing takeout or eating at a restaurant outside when the weather permits. We’ve eaten inside a couple of times recently where everyone wears a mask – except when eating – and tables are spaced far apart and few people in the restaurant. I’ve not seen the type of screen you describe and would feel better if all the restaurants had them.

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    1. The screens were thin clear perspex, and fitted to the walls between the tables. I haven’t seen them anywhere else. I rarely eat outside here. It is either too cold, or there are too many flies and wasps. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’d love some Indian food just about now – sounds like a great experience – it’s so funny the things we take for granted and then suddenly they become unique and precious. That’s a kind of gift in it’s own way.

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    1. Just to sit and eat hot food in the restaurant was a real treat, Felicity. I did it every week in London, and once a month up here before last March. It made me feel hopeful for some kind of return to ‘near normal’.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We do like to support the local small town. Not only the restaurants, but the smaller shops too. Otherwise everything will shut down, and we will only be left with the shopping malls! πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. that is wonderful Pete. i’m impressed how they have addressed safety for their clients. haven’t been to any restaurant since March and i need not tell you why. very sad. πŸ™‚

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  10. Pete, bravo to you for supporting your local restaurant…it’s great to read about the social distancing steps they took so that you and your wife could feel safe and comfortable eating out again….glad to hear the food is great as well!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As you know Pete, here in the US we are all fending for ourselves as a certain percentage of “Covid-iots” have decided not to follow safety protocols, resulting in a massive surge in cases here and closing most restaurants again…

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t eat out in restaurants all that often either except for special occasions like birthdays. I usually just do takeout from fast food places. I did finally get to meet up with my cousin a couple of weeks ago to eat lunch out at P. F
    Chang’s to catch up and do a late birthday celebration. We usually try to get together and May for our birthdays since mine is the middle of me and her’s is at the end of May. everyone was wearing masks and seating was social distanced. They even had paper menus and we had to box up our own leftovers. But it was a nice change of pace.

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    1. Only a few restaurants are opening up so far, and this one had excellent measures in place. We are still being careful, but I was quite excited to be able to eat somewhere else other than at home. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Glad to hear you were impressed by the safety precautions in place. We haven’t eaten out yet – and the weather here is not good enough for eating outside. I refuse to pay a fortune for a meal, however well cooked, and eat it in the freezing cold. As it was my birthday and my son came home this week I did cook for company for the first time since before lockdown. I was extremely nervous about having so many people in the house – only four extra – and making them stay two metres apart.

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    1. I rarely choose to eat outside, even in decent weather. If it’s not the flies and wasps, then it might be the breeze blowing stuff around. Plus exterior seating is often very uncomfortable, and hard on the bum! The restaurant last night had put in place many excellent safety precautions, and would be a good example to others that are still waiting to reopen.
      A belated Happy BIrthday, dear Mary. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t fancy eating out at the moment. I’ve just come back from Tesco at Ryde with 10 bags of shopping in sweltering heat. I’d rather eat out with the grandchildren instead of going to Tesco, but don’t want to take the risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand that, Stevie. The place we went to last night had implemented some impressive measures to do their best for customer safety. I wouldn’t consider going to a restaurant that had just moved some tables around.
      24 C here today, we finally got some of your good weather!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They were not registered for it, but Julie has found another Indian place in Yaxham that is. We have been there before, so might try that one soon. (It is around 6 miles south of here, so not far) I checked on the phone before making the booking, and asked about safety and distancing. I have to say I was impressed by the effort they had made to get it right. Most of the other restaurants in Dereham are still closed except for takeaway.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We didn’t have to wear masks as customers, and we were far enough apart for it not to be an issue. But the owners of that restaurant had worked it all out perfectly to attract people back in, and it succeeded!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A simple task of just eating out will probably be seen as a treasured thing. Unlike before it was just not having to cook. Love your last line in the post. Made me smile early this morn. Take care, remain safe and have a great weekend. Your friend across the pond, Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That’s good to hear. I love an Indian meal ‘out’, but I think I can make a pretty decent concoction to my own recipe [different every time! πŸ˜‰ ] as a rule, and a very regular one at that! The one thing I really miss from a meal out is proper nan bread: the pre-packaged ones just don’t have that lovely light quality of ‘authentic’ nan. I could try baking my own, of course, but baking has aways seemed like too much faff: luckily, one of my daughters is a dab hand with cakes πŸ˜€ Hopefully, there might be an occasion special enough to warrant a meal out, anyway. Cheers, Jon.

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      1. I bet it was Pete. We have a place called the Jenny Wren out on the river bank road. Quite isolated. They have some tables up on the river bank but we can’t get up to them. It had been a popular restaurant for a long time, but gradually lost its customers though I don’t know why. It changed hands and was closed for a while but new owners gave it a revamp and gradually became imnensely,popular. They really made a go of it and that made me feel so happy. But we have never been in. With the pandemic, it shut down of course, but we cheered when we saw it had opened up again looking as good as ever. I don’t know how safe it is as we can’t see inside properly, but I wish them all the luck in the world, and hopebthey stay afloat (not in the river though, of course!). I did suggest to hubby that one day we might try actually going out for a neal again and going there, but, both being in wheelchairs weare not sure how they would manage us. But anyway. Fly high you beautiful Jenny Wren.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Well Pete it seems indeed that they take it seriously! Honestly I would feel safe there. So far no eating out for me either but I hope on Monday that I’ll be able to eat out somewhere with my daughter. We should have been in London at that time this year but…

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    1. If the safety measures hadn’t been in place, I am sure we would have left. But it was impressive. Some of the other restaurants in town (like Prezzo) are not reopening yet, as they do not have the layout to be able to provide a safe environment. I hope you manage to find somewhere nice, Sophie.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. When I lived in Camden, I made a habit of eating out once a week. But we had such a huge choice there. Once we moved here, I dropped that to once a month, and started to run out of places to go to fairly qucikly. Other than driving into Norwich, where there is more variety, I have settled on half a dozen ‘favourites’ locally. Trying to park in Norwich just stresses me out, so I rarely eat there.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I love this piece, Pete, any chance of having something similar for my ‘Plague Invasion’ anthology? It would be so interesting, historically, for sure. I’m really keen to have some of your words in this book!

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We have friends who returned to Poland after 12 years in the UK, we recently went for a BBQ and on leaving we invited them round for a return grill soon. They declined the offer as they said they would much prefer one of my curries πŸ™‚ Now many Indian restaurants around here it seems and they got the taste for it in blighty πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have had takeaways from the same place on two occasions since March. But for me, it is never the same. I like to sit inside the restaurant with a glass of wine, and my food to arrive sizzling on the hotplate. The safety provisions in Spice Fusion were very impressive, and we were not concerned at all. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Lucky you! You could at least go out. My parents don’t even allow me to go into our terrace! And also, I am quite surprised by the fact that you enjoy Indian food. Proves that it’s not just your food that is popular in our country, but our food too, is popular in your country!

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    1. Indian food is very popular in Britain. Every town has Indian restaurants, and in London and Birmingham there are whole ‘districts’ where almost all the resturants are Indian. I am not sure that it is ‘authentic’ of course, as the menus offered are a mix of Indian, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan dishes.
      Last night, I had a Tandoori Mixed Grill. Sizzling chicken, lamb, and prawns, all cooked with tandoori spices. I had a side order of Sag Poneer, and a big Naan bread. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. It is probably the most popular kind of restaurant food in England. Every town has at least one if not two Indian restaurants. And in big cities like London, there are hundreds of them. πŸ™‚
      (Though many are actually owned and run by Bangladeshis)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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