In the world of cuisine, there really are what you might call "destination restaurants." Not necessarily fancy establishments, understand, but they make it desirable to actually climb into the car and drive a bit.
When you're a real foodie, sometimes you just don't care about time or expense.
It's the way I feel, anyway. There are super restaurants within a 10-mile radius of my house. I love them and I patronize them. But sometimes, for a special dish and/or special ambience, I'm willing to hone my driving skills.
That's the way reader Leonard Kwaczala feels, too. Thank heavens. We like his attitude. Kwaczala wrote a letter the other day that warmed my heart:
"I have two favorite dishes that I can't find anywhere in the area," he wrote. "The first one is Creamed Cod on Toast. In order to enjoy this dish -- which used to be available at the old Waldorf Restaurants -- I have to drive (from Cheektowaga) to Warsaw to the Silver Lake Restaurant where it is only served on Fridays.
"It sells out every week."
"The second one is Lobster Newburg. I honestly can't believe that no one in the area has this dish. In order for us to enjoy it, we have to drive to Henrietta, just outside Rochester to the Cartwright Inn and it's available every day."
Welcome to the club, Len Kwaczala. And welcome too, to Pat and Wende Nicosia who e-mailed that they like to eat occasionally at Casa D'Oro in Niagara Falls, Ont. "Family owned in the tourist district but the locals eat there," they say.
"We especially enjoy the fine establishments in Canada because we often take weekend getaways to the Niagara Peninsula and we love the wines."
We understand. We, too, are among the crazies who think nothing of driving 60 miles or so in order to eat what we crave.
We might drive to Angelica to the Maple Tree Inn to sit at the counter and watch them make pancakes -- all you can eat with fresh maple syrup to pour on top of them. (There are several of these restaurants beyond the South Towns that do this and you should know that there's a special Maple Weekend planned for March 18-19 when the sugarhouses will be open. Visit www.mapleweekend.com)
We might drive to Scarborough, Ont., for a Sunday dim sum brunch at the Dragon Dynasty in the Chartwell Shopping Center. It's an enormous place where they are still bringing the pastries through the tables on carts, and where sometimes you need an interpreter to be sure what you're eating. If you care.
Sure, occasionally on the way home, somebody in the car is bound to say: "Hey, wasn't this a long way to go for breakfast? (Or lunch. Or dinner.)
The answer is, yes it was. But to put it in the chubby tire guy's terms, there are places that are "worth a special journey." Or, at least (it's a slightly lesser ranking) "worth a detour."
Hungry people never downgrade the thrill of the hunt.