Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Nostalgia in a glass
Ottawa, Ontario, August 2006 [Click to embiggen the refreshment]
On our way home from Montreal last week, we took the kids to Ottawa because they had never been there, and we felt our little family needed an adventure.
We stayed at a lovely hotel. We explored the city. We did the touristy things that tourists do, and we had a wonderful time (my wife has written about it here.) On our last night there, we took the kids to Zak's Diner. Even though Zachary's name is shortened to Zach and not Zak, we figured it was close enough for us.
It also reminded us of the beloved Five and Diner restaurant that was a beacon of normalcy when we first drove into town with a hungry two-year-old almost a decade ago. We knew no one here, and it was the only place that was open on a snowy Christmas Eve. It quickly became his favorite eatery, and he was very upset - as were we - when it closed a few years back.
Looking around Zak's, it was hard to ignore the atmosphere of the place. Pastel-ish blue, accented by a riot of old signs, chrome and vinyl. The light was comforting: dim, soft, and entirely reminiscent of American Graffiti. I tried to take pictures of my drink that evoked the warmth of the light.
I could see why people liked to eat there: it was a welcoming place to be.
But it was late. Noah fell asleep toward the end of our visit. We skipped the free ice cream that came with their meals and instead promised them we'd make an ice cream date back home. As we scooped up our kids and walked out, I couldn't help but think that every town needs a diner. And every child needs a place that will stick in his/her mind for a long time to come.
Your turn: Do you have a fond diner memory? What makes places like this so appealing?