The Punchbowl and Me

I experienced something for the first time on Saturday, something unexpected, perhaps slightly risky, and in the end, quite delicious.

I was waiting in line at Lona’s Lil Eats, an excellent restaurant here in St. Louis, when I noticed something on the bar. Now, I’m not a big drinker, especially at this point in my life. So the bar isn’t usually an attraction for me.

But this bar had a full punchbowl on it, and I felt both intrigued and comforted by it.

I was intrigued because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a punchbowl on a restaurant bar before. And even more surprising was how the punchbowl made me feel like I was at someone’s home, not at a restaurant. I think that’s because the rare occasions that I see punchbowls are at small, warm house parties with people I care about.

So I embraced the warmth and bought a glass of punch. I’m not quite sure what was in it–maybe bourbon, grapefruit juice, and something else? It wasn’t too strong, which was good.

But it wasn’t really about the drink; rather, it was all about the punchbowl. I almost wish we had sat in such a way that I could see it for the entire meal.

Have you ever encountered something like this? Perhaps not specifically a punchbowl, but just anything at a public venue that made the place feel much more intimate, comforting, or private than you expected?


2 Responses to “The Punchbowl and Me”

  1. Adrian Brown says:

    I am a notoriously territorial eater. I do not share anything, particularly beverages or utensils. Even with my own kid. Before you think me a monster, I have also never touched another human’s plate or beverage. I feel it is a necessary level of mutual respect.

    However, on several occasions when I lived in NYC, I was taken to ‘family style’ italian restaurants, and found them to be wonderful, unique experiences. You sit at a huge table with strangers, and the portion sizes are immense, specifically to encourage sharing. This was an idea that on paper would make me shudder, but there was something about the communal frivolity and genuine neighborship that has made me long for that experience again.

    But there were two significant elements that I KNOW were what brought the whole thing together.
    1) Pasta is cheap as hell, so the portions were immense, thus ensuring I got enough of everything I had actually ordered and knew I liked.
    2) I got beyond lucky with my table mates, because any normal roll of the dice would have left me with at least one or two people more awful than myself.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I like the way you told this story, Adrian! The only time I’ve eaten family-style with strangers is at weddings.

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