So it is with dining. It is fairly easy to find a great meal in most major cities. You look. Listen. Use your instincts. Voila. I find that in small places however I am often overcome by the pastoral vibe. I have to remind myself to "look for the ball." Failure to do this often produces a boring dining experience. Or a horrid one. The important thing is to use the same Epic tools to look for fun and good things no matter where you are or no matter how bleak the landscape may appear to be. Do not fall prey to the "can't be anything here" trap. Because the truth is, there usually is something delightful just waiting to be discovered. With the correct attitude, the search is half the fun.
Mr. Zandi is a most amiable host. And an ubiquitous one. I have been back to The Troutdale several times since my first visit and he has been there every single night. To visit the table. Give the personal greeting. Remember who you are. The gentleman is a one-man masters degree in Hospitality Management. A recent example makes my point. It was (of course) NASCAR race week. The town flooded with people. The Troutdale overrun with diners. I arrived (typically) alone. When you go to a fine restaurant, full of patrons, and the owner takes the time to make it to your table in an unhurried way and greet you, THAT is "living over the store". A sure bet that the food will be wonderful as well. As it is.
Mr. Zandi behind the bar.
Despite my unfounded prejudice, I remembered my Dad's advice. Put it into practice in an unlikely context. And found a culinary golf ball in the rough. To great ends. Keep looking for the ball even when you are in the weeds. And get to The Troutdale if you can. You won't be sorry.