Now that we are back in town, we are resuming our normal weekly rituals. Among them is dinner out with our Thursday night gang.
It’s a simple routine, really. At 6:30 post meridiem, we assemble at the synagogue for afternoon and evening services, which are mercifully brief. Afterwards, we go to one of the local eateries to enjoy a little social time. And food, of course. Food is always involved where we Red Sea Pedestrians congregate.
Invariably, a lively discussion will follow services while we decide where to have supper. Shall we have Italian? Go to the Marietta Diner or any of its sister operations on the far side of town? Or shall we stay closer to home? What’s it gonna be?
This evening’s selection was one of our favorite local spots - the Shangrila Bistro. It was a Tibetan restaurant when it first opened about three years ago, thus the name. Alas, the anticipated hordes of East Cobb yak-meat eaters the owners envisioned when they drew up their business plans failed to materialize in sufficient numbers. A change of management, with a concomitant change in menu, ensued.
The new version of Shangrila is not perhaps as groundbreaking: There no longer are any exotic Tibetan dishes on the menu, which now consists mainly of popular Chinese and Thai standards leavened with the occasional Malaysian concoction. The execution is good, the prices reasonable, and the portions ample, all conditions which by themselves would keep us coming back... but the real draw is the server, Tina.
Cheers may have been where “everybody knows your name,” but Tina is waaaay better than that. Not only does she know our names - first and last - but she knows what we typically like to order, including whether we like our dishes mild, spicy, or ferocious. She knows our voices, too: Last time I called in a to-go order, she recognized me immediately. Friendly and sociable, she feels more like family than a servitor. Going to The Pump is a treat, and Tina gets a good deal of the credit.
This evening her mother-in-law was at the restaurant, with Tina’s four-month-old son in tow. This gave everyone a chance to oooh and aaah over the baby, whom we had previously only seen in photographs - or in the form of his mommy’s distended belly prior to his arrival. Did I say family?
Why The Pump? Knew you’d ask. The Shangrila Bistro is located, strangely enough, in a little building tucked neatly behind the local Shell station... the kind of place where you’d never think to look for a restaurant. Thus, The Pump.