Saturday, August 25, 2007

O Rings & Smoke Rings

My son is going back to college on Sunday, so for our last dinner out, we went to a long-time family favorite, The Pub (imaginative name, no?) in the Chancellor Center shopping center. The food there is consistently good, and our choices from the menu don’t vary much. Hubby gets a burger or the Reuben, I get the hot veggie sub, and my son has been ordering the chicken fingers since he was little. But the highlight of the meal is definitely the onion rings. These are without a doubt the best onion rings in the Fredericksburg area. I don’t even think this is a subjective opinion. We’ve eaten a lot of onion rings, bloomin’ onions, awesome blossoms, onion loaves, onion straws and onion petals, and there is really no question that the onion rings at The Pub top them all. Just try them. Really.

The downside to The Pub is that the original dining room, which is open for dinner all week, is full of smoke. They’ve opened a second, smoke-free dining room, but it’s only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. On every other night, you’ll be relegated to one of the smokiest dining areas in Fredericksburg. Like many pubs, the bar is a main feature of the dining room, and it attracts more than its fair share of smokers, because apparently, drinking and smoking go hand in hand. And really, what goes better with one addiction than a second?

Sammy T’s is another restaurant that does this, and it drives me crazy. It’s a great little downtown restaurant, lots of healthy and vegetarian menu items. But the entire main dining room is open to smokers. Oh, in a limp nod to non-smokers, they opened up a small, sterile non-smoking area in the back, behind the kitchen and unreachable from the main dining room. But why can’t they put the smokers in there, and give the main room back to the diners who can actually taste their food? Or put a simple partition in the main dining room to give the non-smokers some relief? Does pleasing the declining population of smokers really take precedence over non-smoking diners who would actually like to be able to enjoy their “healthy, vegetarian and vegan entrees, prepared daily from the freshest ingredients possible”? I envy the people who live in states like California and Massachusetts, where smoking is prohibited in all restaurants. Oh, I know that won’t happen in Big Tobacco Country in my lifetime, but even Virginia is bound to get there someday. And that’s not just blowing smoke.

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