Saying Goodbye to a Favorite Restaurant: A Last Supper Story

The moment I entered the restaurant I felt a tangle of emotions rush toward the center of my chest, making it hard to breathe. My eyes began welling with hot tears and I realized, with some alarm, that this wasn't just going to be sad. It had the potential to be embarrassing. The harder I tried to get it together, the more the tears came; when our waitress handed me my menu, it was over. Sadness began leaking furiously from my eyeballs and, unfortunately, my nose. My mom mopped me up pretty quickly, and after the first glass of wine it was smooth sailing.

Ultimately it was a lovely dinner shared with my family, and my husband's family. I threw a 12 top at the waitstaff on their last Friday night, when they were booked solid--overbooked, even--and they had us in and out (even with a very late arrival from our twelfth) in 90 minutes.

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Both dad and I forgot mushrooms for our final Aglio et Olio. We may never recover from the shock.
Oh, and I went with the Aglio et Olio, with one meatball and a side of sausage. Something old, something new.

antoninassalad.jpg
The trick isn't just the flavor of the dressing, but that the lettuce is always perfectly dressed. It's a texture thing; I can't explain it.
I reveled in the house salad, which is this simple thing that no one I have ever met has been able to replicate: iceberg lettuce, the barest hint of radicchio, and a single wedge of tomato, in the most maddening, impossible-to-achieve-at-home vinaigrette. My dad swears pepperoncini juice is the key to the dressing, but I don't know. I suspect the secret is inside the walls of Antonina's, not inside a pantry or refrigerator. (Not that I won't keep trying.) Even though I wanted to eat every last slippery strand of spaghetti coated in olive oil, I held back, knowing that, just as there is only one "last time" one can eat at their favorite restaurant, there is also only one "last, late night, leftover pig-out" and I wanted in.

And as I ate, reflecting on the big, and the small, and the no-reason-at-all celebrations I've enjoyed at the corner of Bridge and Bayard Streets over the years, I realized that the group at my table hadn't been in a room together since my wedding in 2009, and that in itself seemed a proper way to say goodbye to a place where I always felt at home, and like family.

(Not that I didn't go back the next night just to get drunk in the bar with the regulars. 'Cause I did. But that's another article altogether.)

Before I left that evening I made sure to say hello, and thank you, to owners Annette and John McDermott, who gave everyone in tiny lil' Seneca Falls 37 years of wonderful meals and memories. I did forget to steal a menu, however. Dammit.

Do you have a Last Supper story to share? I'd love to hear it, so leave me a comment! Especially if you cried, so I don't feel like such a weirdo.


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11 comments
msinicropi
msinicropi

Christina Thank you for that wonderful article on your last meal at that  local landmark in Seneca Falls. I too remember it as Pete and Frank's. We are snowbirds and never miss an opportunity to have as many meals as we can whiie we are in Seneca Falls.It is sad that John and Annette could not find someone to take over this great "watering hole",but I do understand 37 years is enough.You are so right on the house salad.We could never duplicate it at home.Never had a poor meal there!!!! John and Annette ,we wish you the best.

              Mark and June Sinicropi

bodl
bodl

I don't know the restaurant, but I know the feeling. Thank you, Christine, for this fine story. You kept it short and sweet.

robinpatak
robinpatak

I live in Houston (league city actually) too.

Did you graduate from Mynderse? What year ?

robinpatak
robinpatak

I live in Houston (league city actually) too. Did you go to Mynderse? What year did you graduate?

robinpatak
robinpatak

Christina, I too grew up on Antonina's restaurant, having been born and raised in SF. I knew this restaurant when it was"Pete and Franks". I was sooo sad to hear it was closing . It was definitely an old stand by when home for a visit, especially for the Friday night fish fry!!! I was touched to see your comments. I'm assuming you live in Houston now??

nincarna
nincarna

Fantastic article Christina......you said it better then I have ever heard!!!!!  I will be sure to share this with John and Annette....they will love it!!

Robin
Robin

The Riviera Grill, John Sheely's place in the old Sheraton at Beltway 8/Katy Freeway.  I loved that place.  I think it was the first place I ever had fresh tuna (an eye-opener to someone who grew up eating canned), and to this day, it's one of the few places I've had it that didn't do it in a vaguely Asian style.  They served it with a balsamic reduction that I've tried to emulate at home a few times.  (I still don't know why more restaurants don't pair tuna with something other than sesame and wasabi, etc.)  Riviera Grill was my go-to for special occasions even as the Sheraton got shabbier.  We talk about the place like it's a dead relative.  A beloved, dead relative.

TimP
TimP

Unfortunately, most restaurants I miss I never got a chance to say goodbye to. Here's a few from New Orleans that I miss all the same: Bruning's, Chateaubriand, Victor's, Cuvee, Vaqueros, Dick and Jenny's (when Dick and Jenny still ran it) and Christian's (though I understand the new Redemption in the same building is a worthy successor).

For Houston: Boulevard Bistro, Aries and Gravitas (but no other shuttered Tycer place for some reason...), Frankie B. Mandola's (one of the first places we ate when we moved to town so purely sentimental there), Café Montrose and Jeanine's, Americas (Galleria location) and, prospectively Pico's if they ever do move out of their Bellaire location as it can't and won't be the same.

For my hometown (Champaign-Urbana): Kennedy's/The Lamplighter, Katsina's, The Jolly Roger and Coslow's.  

I'm sure I've forgotten many, many others.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@robinpatak Thanks, Robin! Yes, I do live in Houston now. I know I wasn't the only person who felt this way. There wasn't a dry eye in the house on Saturday night! And it was tough not to order the fish fry for my last (Friday) meal, but I had to get the spaghetts!

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@nincarna Thank you, and please do share it with them. Give them my best!

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