Who is this “Al Fresco” guy, anyway?

Crescent StThursdaysI’m a big fan of bar terraces.  They’re very much the norm in Montréal, like this example at Winston Churchill’s Pub on Crescent Street.  On a nice summer day, it’s a real pleasure to sit in the shade and watch the beautiful people walk by on the sidewalk.  When I open my bar, it will definitely have an outdoor, street-facing component.

What I don’t get, though, is people who like to EAT outside.  For me, the enjoyment of most kinds of food is sharply reduced by taking it into open air.  The reasons are manifold:

1. The food cools too quickly.  Even on warm days, the movement of air takes away the heat of a dish. 

2. There is strong chance that the ambient temperature will be just slightly too hot or too cold for optimum comfort, so clothes will have to be added or shedded or the discomfort endured.  It’s no problem for me to drink a hot toddy wearing a parka, but I don’t want to eat a steak in one.

3. There is a risk of insects bothering you.  This can be easily dealt with when you have both hands free, as you usually do with a beer sitting in front of you; but when eating you are usually holding utensils in one or both hands.

4. The noise and fumes of traffic.  I don’t mind having to speak in a raised voice in a bar/drinking environment, but I like to dine in relative peace.  Likewise with pungent odors – drinking in a smoky bar never bothered me, but sitting next to a smoker in a restaurant did, and I was a smoker myself.  (Yes, I am old enough to remember smoking in restaurants.)

The circumstances when I prefer  eating outside is when the food is eaten with one’s hands, and it’s messy.  The perfect example is lobster.  In my opinion, lobster should ONLY be eaten outdoors, near a large body of water that you can jump into after your meal to wash off all the lobster juice and drawn butter.


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