The Current Normal – Nearly Normal

What to do? What to do? Here, it was on September 17/20, our 43rd wedding anniversary and while there had been the usual exchange of cards, a beautiful walk in the river valley and loving hugs and kisses, how could we complete the day, during Covid 19.

We had not been to a dine-in restaurant since early March, when all the Covid concerns caused the cessation of in restaurant dining across Canada. Now that dining in was back, we were not certain we were ready.

By pure happenstance, we were out “walking the loop” one early August evening when a couple with a dog on the opposite side of the street greeted us by name. On closer inspection, they turned out to be the proprietors of our local award winning French Canadian restaurant, Chartier.

We wondered what they were doing, relaxing on what would normally be a business day and they advised that the restaurant was closed………………for renovations. They further let us know that these renovations included alterations to better adapt to Covid distancing requirements, with more separation and private dining, as well as UV germicidal lights installed in the HVAC ducts. We told them we might give it a try on anniversary #43, said our goodbyes and went on our way.

Fast forward a month or so and here we were, at the restaurant front door, masks on, hand gel at the ready, not knowing what to expect.

All photos taken on September 17, 2020.

What lies behind these doors after a 6 month shut down of dining in?

Staff were wearing masks and the renovation changes were evident, with new partitions and decor, but the same homey look.

View from the reception desk.

The hostess escorted us to a booth, while explaining the changes due to Covid:

  • all reservations are for 2 hour periods
  • all surfaces sanitized between guests
  • deep cleaning done between lunch and dinner (that was why we were there at 4:00 PM)
  • masks on to enter, leave and go to washrooms
  • new single use menu sheets
  • all staff wearing masks and sanitizing hands

We started to relax a bit, as we perused the menu. We had both missed the restaurant dining experience so much. We ordered the Haricot Vert (tempura battered green beans with a maple syrup mayonnaise dipping sauce), and totally out of character, we opted for the cod fish and chips, with homemade coleslaw for our main. I say, out of character, as Alberta is nowhere near any ocean waters. As we know what good fresh fish can be, from our trips to both East and West coast, one orders fish in this land-locked province at their own peril. But, we had a hunch. We ordered a couple of glasses of their feature Rosé to complete the deal and settled back…….to relax.

The romantic couple enjoying their wine…note, our smiling faces

Some of the interior decor. Old doors were used as dividers between rows of booths, but not between booths in the same row. We thought this may be an oversight to be rectified in the near future.

Our green beans arrived…looking and tasting just like we remembered

Appetizer enjoyed, the mains arrived, after a suitable period. The battered codfish, triple cooked chips and house made coleslaw were right up there with the best we had eaten on either coast. Our hunch had paid off, or was it that we were simply lacking in the fried food department?

After the food and wine, we lingered a bit, debating whether we would order dessert, but the description of the chocolate peanut butter torte with peanut brittle and beet blackberry coulis with Chantilly cream drew us in. We ordered one to share and while it was good, it was not quite what we thought of as a torte.

Evening over, we slowly sauntered home. The experience was great, but we are not sure when we will dine in again. Everything is so “up in the air”.

This blog site, all prose, poetry and photos are the property of K. A Gould (unless otherwise noted), © all rights reserved.

19 thoughts on “The Current Normal – Nearly Normal

  1. What a lovely way to mark the special occasion and the food looks yummy. I miss dining at a local pub especially as the dark and cold winter nights are on the horizon. It was so nice to settle in a cosy corner beside the fireplace, listen to the traditional music and enjoy lots of hearty food. 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a treat, even more so by being forbidden fruit for so long. I can only imagine how sad things are in Ireland, not being able to go to the pubs for a jar and some good craic. The pubs are like your front room. Hope all gets sorted soon, so we can look forward to doing fun things again. Thanks for reading Aiva. Stay well. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad the restaurant was able to make changes to make it safer to dine in. We haven’t done that yet, but part of the reason is my husband’s chemo treatments mean we must be more careful right now. But I feel so sorry for restaurants as the Winter looms ahead and this pandemic drags on…if they can’t figure out a way to cope, they will be out of business, and that’s beyond sad. Happy Anniversary, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some more slight tweaks might make it perfect. Not many places were able to make this change, but Chartier switched to curbside pickup during the lockdown and actually made more money that way. Hope your husband’s treatments are going well. Yes, a long dark winter in a pandemic is not a good recipe for anyone. We will do our best to at least do curbside. Thanks for your good wishes Ann. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy anniversary! We also just went out with my parents for the first time in a year. My dad likes to take the family out in October for several birthday celebrations. We were really nervous about dining inside with them…both high risk. But we were able to spread out a considerable distance from them as the restaurant sat the 9 of us at a hibachi table where normally you could fit almost twice that. So far everyone is still healthy, but I don’t think we’ll do that again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is excellent that you managed to get together with them. We are missing contact with our kids, one who lives close and the other who is a province away. Fingers crossed we get a treatment soon. Thanks for reading T and stay well. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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