Problem 1: I'm easily distracted. I like to enjoy the company I keep, but I have the attention span of a 3-year-old; something glittery crosses my path and I'm off to check it out. For this reason, I avoid places that are too busy when deciding where to dine. Rick's Press Room in Meridian sets the tone for a meal focused on the food and the company you keep.
Muted sunset walls, dark hardwood and white linen, only the framed, front page newspapers around the restaurant gave anything to be distracted by. A giant clock marked coastal time from L.A. to New York with Meridian in the middle to count the minutes spent enjoying a well-prepared meal.
Problem No. 2: I'm indecisive. When choosing anything, it takes me awhile to make a decision, because I want to be happy with what I get.
When dining out, this often leads to trouble. Most restaurant menus are a mile long. Three pages into any given menu and I'm panicking. Too much variety and it can take me ages to settle on something. At Rick's, my dining partner and I ordered a beer to help pass the time. I ordered a Redhook summer ale ($3.75) and my partner picked the Hefeweizen ($3.75). At Rick's Press Room, they had taken the stress and the guess out of choosing. Barely two sips into my beer before I knew my choices.
The brief, typed-up menu offers only a handful of simple, American-style items, hence there's not a lot of menu meandering to be done. And the short list probably means the chef has perfected a few things and lays a clean dining path. It's not a long read to find a good meal.
My dining partner never has a problem finding what he likes. If it's on the menu, he goes straight for the salmon. It's nice to always know what you want. At the Press Room, Rick's version of a good salmon dish was a large cut that flaked onto the fork accompanied by a sweet, savory Jack Daniel's glaze ($15).
I knew I wanted red meat and I had two choices: rib-eye or New York. At this point, if I can't make a choice, I always ask the server. Ours recommended the New York ($14). I took her advice, and ordered it medium-well. The steak came out perfectly cooked with the flavorful fat still around the edge. Seasoned, tender and juicy; it's hard not to be cliche, but good steak is what it is. Both dishes came with choice of soup or salad. I took salad with homemade thousand island dressing and my dining partner opted for the Manhattan chowder. Both meals were served with mashed potatoes whipped until frothed and delicate snow peas clean and fresh. The overall effect was a simple, delicious meal that left us both hoping to return to try the rest of the menu.
Problem number three: I often can't go back. I don't know why, but I always manage to say something that sounds picky if not directly to the waitress, then within earshot. It has happened too many times. Even if I'm enjoying a meal, there's always something that could have been done better. Too much dressing. Soup could be hotter. Silverware's dirty. Something.
Not at Rick's. From the start, our waitress was so nice that I just didn't want to mess this one up. She was just too nice. Rick's may be the solution to my dining problems.
—Mary Slaughter hopes the Buddhists are right and that we all come back to eat even more.