Your last suppers (in the before times)

I was sure there’d already be a thread on this, but if there’s one I couldn’t find it. If the mods/gods on high can find one and attach this contribution to that thread, please do so.

@GretchenS has succinctly and evocatively described her prepandemic eating:

I offer mine below, more verbosely, but I am what I am. What were your experiences?

Saturday, 2/22/20 (NY):
[MoMA in the afternoon – crowded, as always.]
Dinner with a friend (and distant relative) at my apartment.
[Later: Knives Out in a crowded movie theatre in Times Square.]
Even later burgers and brews at a semi-crowded nearby place.

Sunday, 7/23/20 (NY):
[Kubrick 2001 exhibit at MoMI – crowded.]
Dinner with friends in Queens – I forget where.

Monday, 2/24/20 (NY):
Had a reservation at Intersect by Lexus but had to cancel for several reasons.
(Celebrated chef from Goa, but I figured there was plenty of time to eat there before that particular pop-up closed.)
Instead, had takeout from Saar on 51st.
[Later: Concert at Lincoln Center (packed).]

Tuesday, 2/25/20 (NY):
[I did a long day of what passes for work for me, and my wife did her gig at the planetarium at the Museum of Natural History.]

[My records show a couple of canceled reservations from that time – Crave Fishbar, Txikito – but I can’t remember if we were trying to vaguely be careful, or just had too packed a schedule. I’m usually a careful planner, and cancellations are unusual for me.]

Wednesday, 2/26/20 (NY):
[Morning: Wife lectures Flatiron Institute on what’s what and what’s not.]
Late lunch at Chelsea market (packed).
[Later: Cabaret in a small, densely packed basement room.]

{After this, a gap in my records. But, were there a prime time to catch Covid we’d have caught it then. You’d see a masked person here and there in NY, but only now and then, and my wife and I went everywhere those days and did everything.}

Friday, 03/06/20 (Cambridge):
Dinner at Viale (packed). This was our last supper.
[Later: Play at Central Square Theater – thinner audience than usual, some masked, and people washing hands for two birthday song-lengths in the restrooms. After the play we walked around a bit. Happy Lamb Hot Pot nearby was basically empty. Little did any of us know then that the virus had most likely reached our shores from Italy, not directly from China.]

03/17/20 (Cambridge):
Lunch taken out from Andy’s.
Stop at Hi-Rise Bread Company for the last of their excellent soda bread, and a chat with a depressed Rene Becker (the owner).

This was to be my last food foray in a while. Restaurants closed that day.

(Although, I should add, I was forced to go to New York that tense, scary pre-vax September, 2020, for work reasons. I traveled first class on Amtrak – because, dirt cheap then, and more widely separated seats. I was flung a box of snacks by the attendant. Does that count as food?)


March 11 - went to my non-chain family grocery, picked up normal stuff plus a few things as if a snowstorm was coming. Probably got a good prepared sandwich and a couple of dinner entrees. I went home. And didn’t go out again, except to get my vax and 1 trip to the dentist, for an entire year. One year housebound. I can’t even remember the last “before times” I ate out with friends. It was probably an early dinner with good bar food. I love bar hamburgers.

I am eternally grateful to the folks who delivered groceries. And for the weird boxes from Imperfect Foods.


Our last meal out in “the before times” was March 7, 2020 at The Federal in Waltham, MA. My photos from the time indicate that I had, at the very least, a dirty vodka martini and lamb chops.


About 10 days before Toronto was locked down, I became more cautious. My friend and I drove up to Collingwood for a 2 night ski trip, and had tacos out on the Thu, March 5, and Italian on Fri. We already were carrying hand sanitizer and being careful about getting too close to strangers. We went to a bar after skiing on March 6, and people were still crowded into booths and on the dance floor. The Saturday night, I met up with guy friends in a bar, where we had some appetizers. By then, I didn’t want to Uber or take a taxi across town.

The following week, on Wed, March 11th, I caught a production of Hamilton, and brought a friend. She treated me to a meal at a chain called Joey. Again- hand sanitizing all the time. I was anxious during the play and anxious during dinner.

Later than night, I went to chain pub with a guy friend, and I was feeling a little uncomfortable inside the pub. We would have had some okay pizza and a cocktail. While the pub is 2 blocks from my apartment, I haven’t had the desire to return. It’s full of people again, but they don’t have a patio space, whereas other nearby pubs do, so I go to the other pubs instead once patios are open.

The next morning, Broadway and San Francisco closed their theatres. An usher had caught Covid. Some Broadway actors started to become ill.

That Thu night, I went to a new French bistro/ share plates place called Paris Paris in Toronto, with 3 Chowhounds. I was a nervous wreck and didn’t enjoy the meal. I was anxious about the coat rack, the surfaces, the servers, the utensils. I had my coat folded on my lap throughout dinner because I thought the coat rack might be contaminated :joy: (I also hate bed bugs!) That was the last time I shared a share plates type of meal. I wasn’t shaking other people’s hands by then- I went through a brief phase of :call_me_hand: but white girl Shaka is sort of appropriation so I started doing an elbow bump instead. One Chowhound, a restaurant owner, was still hugging and shaking hands. He wasn’t buying into the social distancing public health advice before lockdown.

The Friday night, I went to a local vegetarian restaurant chain called Fresh. My friend and I sat far away from everyone else. That was the last time I would have any cocktails, until the patios opened in the summer.

My last meal out was a brunch with some guy friends, at a place called True True Diner on Sat, March 14th. I had steak and eggs, because I wanted to use a knife and fork. I didn’t want someone’s hands touching a sandwich in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to use my own hands to eat a sandwich. I wondered if there could be Covid under my server’s very long fingernails.

That brunch on March 14th was the last restaurant meal I’d have for the next 3 months. I started to get weekly takeout after 3 months.

What’s changed is that I don’t like dining at restaurants indoors anymore. I’ve had 9 restaurant meals indoors since March 2020. 6 of those indoor meals in the summer and fall of 2020, 3 indoor meals in 2021. I haven’t done any indoor restaurant meals since I ran a cookie exchange inside a pub in Dec 2021.

Out of the restaurants I visited the first 2 weeks of March 2020, True True and the Italian restaurant in Stayner went out of business. Paris Paris is still doing well.

Over the past 3 years, I became an Eataly convert, so my dinner tonight and last night were from Eataly’s refrigerated meal department. LOL. I realized at some point that Eataly’s $15.90 refrigerated gnocchi taste better than most $20-$25 take-out restaurant gnocchi in my neighbourhood, so that has become my source for Italian takeout when I’m lazy.

I’ve become a take-out customer, splurging on high quality takeout, and a good tipper when I get take-out. :rofl:


I don’t remember the date when NYC went into lockdown in March 2020. When the City announced all restaurants were going to close, we made a reservation at a local Italian place called Queen. The house was packed. It was like the last days of Rome. I recall around 8 or 9 whatever time the official closing hours required by the City the staff locked the front door so no one else could come in. We had a great dinner and at the end I recall giving the maitre d’ a hug and handshake before we left. Sadly the last time I saw him as they never reopened. Owners decided to leave for the suburbs of NJ.

When restaurants were allowed to reopen again, we were dining indoors and out. Again on the last night restaurants were allowed to have indoor seating in November 2020 we had a table at the Fulton at the Seaport. Had a table by the window and the setting was pretty spectacular looking out over the river. Menu was sort of limited at the time I recall but the food was good.

Once the City shut restaurants again, we joined the exodus from the City and headed out west to the mountains until the snow melt began. Restaurants were open there and we continued to dine out. Call me crazy but we didn’t pull back from things we used to do in the before time.

After all my risky behavior wouldn’t you know that I didn’t get Covid until after I got the vaccine?


better than before.


Same. Minus the risky behavior - I was very careful (but not as careful as some).

True that. I had one positive test when I was completely asymptomatic, and then Omicron before I got that booster, which was no fun at all, but probably would’ve been even less fun had I been unvaccinated.


Ooh, fun topic.

On March 12 I went to a concert at a small venue. I remember a couple weeks prior my dad urgently telling me to take a look at what someone named Fauci was saying about a pandemic. At first I thought it was hysteria because he’s prone to it and he was watching on YouTube.

March 12 was my last day at work in person. I took some N95 masks my boss had in the shop for dust.

March 13 my son and I went to ice cream with a pediatrician I’d recently met. She opined at length about how she thought COVID was probably just a cold, which she assumed was widespread, that would quickly run its course and not be a big deal. Yeah, that conversation didn’t age well.

I think March 13 was our last day doing anything indoors in public together until my son had his first vaccine shot in November 2021. My next calendar entries were: Cincinnati zoo web event (we live in Asheville) and “Welcome to Virtual Preschool.” :sob::woman_facepalming:t2:

In April the Zoom happy hours started. We still thought “6-8 weeks” at that point. :sob:


Didn’t we all.


I spent 2018 recuperating from major surgery. Lots of forced down time in a recliner; limited activity. So when the pandemic hit, I knew (or thought I knew) the drill. I was very patient and I’d soldiered through a protracted medical event. So I was already girded up and prepared. Mentally, I figured I knew how to deal with it - you do what you have to do to insure your survival - but I had no idea it would last so long (and it’s still going on). I taught virtually - I’m pretty adept at technology- it’s in my wheelhouse - so that didn’t cause me any grief. I learned to adapt my cooking “gotta haves” to appreciate what I could get. I lost some friends and relatives. Many people lost more. I can’t wait to fully get back to what was fun before, but I suspect I’ll always see things through the pandemic lens from now forward.


My husband commented recently that “we had no idea how long the shadow of COVID would be,” which I thought was both eloquent and true. We are still seeing the fallout.


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I had two notable last suppers, I guess. On March 8-9 my daughter and I went to visit Wellesley College, next door to my hometown of Natick. On the 8th we had dinner at Zaftig’s on Rt 9 with my childhood best friend, her daughter, and her mom. We had matzo ball soup and pastrami sandwiches, I think. It was not the best Jewish deli in the Boston area (that’s Mameleh’s) but it was so great to see their family, and we got my husband a t-shirt that said Meshugenah Daddy.

The next day we had a nice tour of Wellesley on a gorgeous day with enthusiastic student guides (who were back home by the end of the week). I should note that there were a couple of cases in the town of Wellesley from that Biogen meeting, but no one seemed concerned that it would reach the campus.

On the drive home a friend back in Maine texted me that she’d be in Portland that night, and did I want to have dinner? So I went to Empire, the first good Chinese restaurant in Maine, and we elbow-bumped and ate garlic green beans and I don’t remember what else, but it was fantastic as always. And that really was the end of that–Empire has not reopened for dine-in because they are doing fine with takeout, although they are now saying that the might reopen someday. I will be there, I promise.


You folks all have the most amazing memory power. I couldn’t remember what I made for last Christmas dinner if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s the same thing I’ve made for Christmas dinner the last 15 years…

Maybe it’s because restaurants were not shut down long here, so whatever those last few dinners out may have been didn’t leave such an impression on me. Inside dining was closed for a month, reopened to half-capacity/spacing requirements (although I read that some larger corporate chains, more able to sustain a longer business drought, did not then reopen), then by June restaurants were permitted to fully reopen.

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