New-restaurant excitement

Published 8:39 pm Thursday, July 22, 2010

For me, a new restaurant opening is like getting tickets to a major concert or something. I would get a sleeping bag and camp out all night to be the first person at a new restaurant, if that sort of behavior didn’t make it all too obvious that I have a bit of a weight problem.

So the next best thing I can do when I see a grand opening sign in front of new eatery is to get way too excited inside my car before walking the calmest walk a foodie can walk on his way to a new foodventure. And try as I might, I just can’t help but skipping a little skip before entering the establishment.

I got that treasured feeling last Saturday when I discovered the grand opening sign over Tokyo Grill on Main Street.

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You know how people fall in love with that new car smell? Those people have never truly gotten a good whiff of that new restaurant smell. It is only after taking a giant nostril-full of an aroma that is a mixture of new restaurant furniture, a newly heated grill, and fresh ingredients beginning their journey that one truly knows what love is.

As I looked at a menu I had never seen before, I was treated to a list of Japanese foods mixed with a hint of American flair. It is virtually impossible to make a choice of what to get the first time you pick up a menu at a new place. But my advice is just to relax and follow your instincts. If it sounds good, it probably will be good.

After soaking in some of the ambiance of Tokyo Grill, I was ready to order. The ladies out front were cordial and attentive, a quality that makes me want to order everything on the menu. But I played it cool and tried the shrimp tempura roll and the shrimp bowl, my only regret being I had to get it to-go in order to get to work.

I really wasn’t done soaking in the understated nuance of the small but elegant dining area or the giant glass window in front of the chef’s station. I love watching a master at work.

Of course, ambiance, nuance, and all that other good stuff aside, the true excitement in any new restaurant is that magical first bite. It is that moment that makes or breaks your hopes for loyalty to a new establishment.

Coming to a new restaurant is more about the new experience than the food. And it is only over time that food becomes important. After all, it has to be good to keep people coming back. But being taken in by the look of Tokyo Grill on Saturday plays a big part in whether or not I become a loyal patron.

As for my critique of that first bite from Tokyo Grill, let’s just say I’ll see you again tomorrow.