Thanks to Armenian food and serendipity.
A couple of years ago, a hot-shot cook we hired at moonstones urged me to visit a restaurant in Watertown–for it’s global menu tilt. He told me a story of a father-son collaboration, the son trained in NYC, then came home, then left to open his own place, and on and on. The cook was going to take me. ”We’ll go. How about next week?” ”I know the guy.” etc.
The cook didn’t last two more weeks–he’s somewhere now, probably still talking.
I never went, though I remained curious. I didn’t actually really know where Watertown was–I had no mental image at the time of the location, but my mind conjured big steaks, a sexy red glow, black booths…a completely shiny, dreamed up version based on “global”, the talking cook, and the name…Strip T’s.
Fast forward to Christmas week. Traditionally, we and our daughters , prepare the non-traditional Christmas Eve big-family gathering-yankee swap-dinner…each year a different ethnic inspiration; Greek, Italian, Brazilian, Country-French, Deep South, etc. But, now they have jobs. And travel home on Christmas eve.
Soooo..Mom went to a shower…the food was Armenian..she remembered how great it was….she inquired where the food came from at the shower…
And, she suggested we let Massis (in Watertown) cater Christmas eve (by way of picking up platters en route from the airport) and keep at least the whole international theme alive, even though we are not cooking it.
Sooo….we drove to Watertown (“So, this is where Watertown is! Where’s the water?”) We picked out fun stuff. Feta, from France and Armenia. Hummus, taboule, beet slaw, borekas, babaganoush, lavash, pistachio things…
We got hungry.
We used google. Good restaurants near me. ”What? Strip T’s is .3 miles from here. I know about that place!” (Picturing sleek…shiny……) Smart phone.
So, Strip T’s.
You should go. I will go back. But, I should tell you…it is NOT what I pictured. A former lunch counter, down a side-ish road, small-ish (40 seats?), bathroom in the cellar prep kitchen area (duck your head, watch your step, climb up to the toilet…), open kitchen, staff-run (a story for another day), paper menus paper clipped to re-purposed cardboard ‘clipboards’ cut from food boxes…and ridiculously delicious food, largely designed by the son who actually did train under David Chang at NYC’s famous Momofuko–where I had been just days before. The best potato salad ever. Rice bowls and ramens. Curry and yuzu.
And stories, from an affable, laid-back father-owner, who, like me, is flabbergasted by the rude and entitled class of customer who feels empowered by the creation of social media, who whine, yelp, slander and threaten when their world isn’t perfect. ”It’s a new world we live in.” That was not the only thing we shared in common. Also, our love of the customers who get it, who are patient and tolerant and accepting of imperfections, who are polite, supportive, hungry, kind, helpful, and will help Strip T’s celebrate their 30th year in the neighborhood next month. I would go, but the talk of a police detail to control the crowd makes me think another time, for another visit would be wise.
I think I will review them on Trip Advisor. Maybe though, only 4 stars of 5. They didn’t accept my $100.00 bill…how dare they confuse me with potential counterfeiters! I have never been so insulted. Oh, and, the pea tendrils were not al dente. And, the bartenders shirt wasn’t completely tucked in. And the owner leaned on the bar. And the curried “tots” were not the red-curry version as I had expected. And tots are round, not square. Duh. Psh.