Monday, April 5, 2010

Rant: Patio Dining Not Always Fun

Boston had some amazingly beautiful weather this weekend, and a few restaurants apparently started their patio dining. This is where you get to dine outside, maybe on the sidewalk just outside the restaurant. Soon, you'll be reading several articles, in various publications, mentioning all the different places who will have patio dining this summer.

I have enjoyed patio dining before, such as sipping sangria while eating garlic shrimp at Tapeo on Newbury Street. It can be fun to people watch, especially in such a busy area. Rather than be cooped up inside, you can savor the delightful weather.

But people seem to fail to mention the negative aspects of patio dining, the matters which can make your dining experience less than delightful. They would rather make patio dining seem like some mystical experience that cannot be marred. Well, I am here to reveal the truth, to pull back the curtain and show the flaws.

First, there can be the bugs, such as flies, mosquitos, and gnats, which can hover around you, dropping down into your food and drink. You can wave them away all you want but they can be quite persistent. Try drinking a superb Rose which has a couple gnats swimming in it. Yuck!

Second, insects are not the only creatures that can annoy you. Birds, especially in Boston, can hover around your table seeking sustenance. As some people do feed them, the birds know where to hang around and wait. They can fly quite low, and close to your table. You never know what they might let drop onto you or your plate.

Third, the weather is not always cooperative. It can be too windy, blowing around your napkins, menus and more. That can get annoying. Or it can be too hot, so that you are sweaty and uncomfortable, desirous of the coolness of air conditioning. If you have been walking around Boston, maybe shopping or touring, do you really want to sit outside and sweat some more?

Fourth, as much as you might like to people watch, it works two ways. People that walk by the patio may look at you too, maybe stopping to check out what you are eating and drinking. Some might be deciding whether to dine there as well, while others will just be nosy. If you don't like the spotlight, then maybe patio dining is not for you.

Sure, patio dining can be fun, but not always. Consider all of the potential aspects before deciding on whether to eat inside or out.

Does anyone else want to share some other negative aspects of patio dining? Or do most people think I am making a big thing out of nothing?


MC Slim JB said...

Too many patios are located on sidewalks on really busy thoroughfares, meaning you end up inhaling dust and exhaust from cars and buses and dealing with unwelcome noise. My favorite patios are sheltered, located on quieter side streets, or are set back from the sidewalk a bit. Examples: Orinoco (South End), Coppa, Rocca, Oleana, Casa Romero, Hungry I, Scampo, The Colonnade rooftop pool deck, The Taj rooftop, Hamersley's Bistro, B&G Oyster, The Rattlesnake, The Red House, Harvest. A shame the Red Fez sucks so hard these days: they have a great patio.

Richard Auffrey said...

That is another excellent example of a potential issue with patio dining. Thanks for a list of the places which are not as effected as much by this problem.

Shop The Andovers said...

Great points. Posted a link to your blog on Shop The Andovers Facebook page - Would appreciate your suggestions for local patio dining options.

Penny said...

Patios can insure the continuation of restaurants that would disappear if they had to live on the reputation of their food and service.