And if I don't recognize him? I will. 'Course I will. And if I don't? I won't. Boy changes more every time I see him. He'll call to me, maybe. "Dad!" he'll say. And I'll stare at the stranger, shake my head. Not my son, I'll say.
No, you won't—you’ll smile.
He’ll ask how the fish have been bitin’, the big dope. I’ll tell him, Like mad. He’ll toss them big words at me. Tell me ‘bout this book he read by some such ‘n such fella who’s got letters after his name. Where's your beard? I'll ask like always, and he'll blush, blame it on the girl. "Likes me clean-shaven."
Boy's beard looked just like mine.
A coin of silver moonlight drops through the tin roof of my tiny ship's cabin as I peel off my gut-stained bib, slip on some trousers that don't stink of striped bass. A couple tugs with a plastic black comb make little sense of my hair, all grey and stiff with saltwater. It's gon' have to be good 'nuff for this place, I think. The Old House, said his voice. I pictured the boy at age 5 racing through the backyard with grass-smudged knees; his feet stomping up the staircase whose steps creaked till the day we sold the place.
It’s Peruvian food, he said. What's wrong with a coupla filets caught by your old man?
Shuffling along the shoreline, I gaze across the Long Island Sound and 'member me and the boy some years ago, laughing with our lines cast, his dim grey eyes reflecting some wriggling bluefish as his mama snapped the photo I can't bear to take down, all yellow from filthy fingers and the passage of time. But Selleck Street looms and I shake it off, the place's simple sign coming into sight beside the boy's pristine Chevy.
I sit in front of a plate of fried fish and shrimp in a rich, creamy sauce, and I'm glad to have something to stare at beside the boy.
"They make their own sauce," he says.
"I catch my own fish."
"Where's your beard?"
So I start to. I cut slowly, chew slowly; keep my eyes cast downward. The only sound is the squeak of the fork tines and the knife on the plate.
"I graduate next week."
"I know." I can’t let him know it, but the fish tastes real good. Tastes like a Smithtown Bay fish.
"And then we're moving, Linda and I. To London."
I was trawling through Smithtown Bay yesterday. I stop eating and stare at the fish.
"I don't know when I'm coming home again, Dad.”
I lean down real close to my place and squint.
“Dad, you have to talk to me.”
"I b’lieve I caught this," I say.
I can feel his dim grey eyes all up in the top'a my skull, burrowing holes.
"May've you could've caught it with me, had you any sense in yer head."
I regret it the moment I say it, but my eyes don' leave this empty plate.
Long after the boy's gone I look up into the opposite booth, still thinkin' I'll see him there sittin' there, this stranger that usedta be my son. But he ain't there. And I summon the server over, order 'nother serving of the fish I prolly caught.
It's delicious, this dish with the sauce they make and the fish I prolly caught. It's delicious and them and me should both be proud.
It's important, I think, to have something you can be proud of.
When fresh cuts of St. Louis–cut ribs, pork shoulder, or beef brisket arrive at Bar Q, they go straight to the award-winning pit team. Chips of locally harvested red and white oak send off smoke from the pit below as the team cooks these meats for hours at a time. Once everything is ready, they plate juicy portions of sticky ribs or pulled pork alongside homemade fixings such as braised collared greens and cheesy grits cakes.
As Bar Q’s name implies, there’s more to the restaurant than lip-smacking barbecue fare. Bartenders craft Southern-style cocktails and pour 26 draft microbrews to complement the hearty meals. And the menu isn’t Bar Q's only repository of Southern charm. Plank wood lines the two-level interior from floor to ceiling, serving as a rustic backdrop to farmland photos and cowhides. Live DJs spin tunes throughout the week, coating their turntable belts in barbecue sauce to keep them running smoothly until 2 a.m. on weekends.
To create its own distinct flavors, Peruvian cuisine borrows quite liberally from the palates of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Since 1995, Fiesta Atlantic Restaurant has specialized in this medley of flavors, opening feasts with bread and zesty green aji sauce made from a secret recipe. Aji can also spice up Fiesta?s other dishes, from chaufas, a seasoned fried rice dish with a choice of meat or seafood, to pepper steak saut?ed with secret Peruvian spices and served over fries. Sourced from Peru and America, wine and beer complement the restaurant?s mostly meaty options, as do glasses of chica morada, a blend of fruit juice, Peruvian purple corn, and a pinch of cinnamon.
There's no need to dirty the kitchen with puffs of flour and splatters of batter. Betty Ann's Kitchen takes care of the cooking, as chefs whip up homestyle dishes for every meal of the day. Maple syrup spills over the sides of french toast and pancake stacks, and breakfast platters treat guests to eggs, bacon, home fries, and toast. Later in the day, chefs slap burgers, veggie burgers, and chicken fillets on the grill before pairing them with sides of onion rings, fries, or mozzarella sticks. Ladles of chili and gooey cheese drown hot dogs in their buns, and pizza crusts dress up with meatballs, broccoli, and top hats.
The urban market and casual cafe concepts come together at Ripka?s Bridgeport Market, a sister store of Ripka?s Bulls Head Market. Inside a caf? area replete with 100-year-old hardwood floors, exposed brick, and fine country woodwork furnishings, guests sit down to dine. Daily offerings include fresh clams, oysters, and shrimp, as well as happy hour specials and a rotating selection of craft beers on tap. In the market, shelves and counters brim with fresh produce, seafood, baked goods, and a selection of chilled meats and cheeses.
Bluedini BBQ's menu catalogs a whole feast of down-home barbecue fare. Guests can select one, two, or three meats for a signature entree—chicken, beef, and turkey come to mind. They can also opt for beef brisket, spicy sausage, or 12-ounce New York strip steaks and pair them sides such as mac and cheese, fried okra, or collard greens.