The cozy outdoor dining space at Cantinetta Bellevue. Image via Facebook.

Nobody craves outdoor dining more than Seattleites, who wait by streaming windowpanes for it all year long.  Here’s how to keep our enthusiasm from getting the better of us.

1. That table in the sun? It’ll be that table in the mottled shade, then that table in the freezing shade, by dessert. Bring a sweater…even if you don’t think you’ll need one. (What am I, your mother?) And remember, temperature is but one of myriad uncontrollable variables once you’re outside. Get your food the moment a garbage truck is wafting by, as happened to me on an urban sidewalk a few summers ago, and you’ll know just what I’m talking about.

2. Don’t assume you can switch it up and retreat indoors the minute the breeze stiffens or the mosquitos join the party. Last week sitting in Brimmer and Heeltap’s sliver of a courtyard (thank you B and H for maintaining the old Sambar’s winsome outdoor space!) we were the only outdoor table that didn’t ask to move inside as the evening grew chilly. The restaurant was kindly able to accommodate, but restaurants won’t always be able to do so, having limited numbers of seats and having likely brought in extra staff—that day, once they got the weather report—to service the extra outdoor tables. Commit, already.

3. You think restaurants have gotten loud? Try sidewalks and patios. Passing cars, lawn mowers, overhead planes, and revving seaplanes can obliterate conversation, and they are perhaps the most annoying of those aforementioned uncontrollable variables. (Seriously: Have you ever tried to converse near a revving seaplane? It’s hilarious…almost as absurd as trying to carry on a conversation at Brave Horse Tavern.)

4. In addition to your sweater and your sunscreen—don’t forget to bring a relaxed set of expectations for your server and buser, who are logging serious mileage just to refill your water and bring dessert menus. Yes, you will wait longer for service outside. Consider it a fresh air surcharge.

5. Know that open air will affect the food you’re served. Hot food will cool faster. Ice cream will melt faster. Bread will toughen; meat may attract jellow jackets. Get over it, camper…no matter how romantic a breezy alfresco evening might sound, it’s actually not for the faint of heart.       

 

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