Grateful Thanks: This is the time of year to reflect and give thanks for our many blessings. Obviously, we're all appreciative of Arizona's postcard scenery--and weather that lets us enjoy it. But, as someone whose job requires 225 meals out a year, here's what makes me warm with gratitude:
* I'm thankful I've never gotten sick from a restaurant meal. Thank you to all the suppliers, cooks and servers who watch out for the public health.
* I'm thankful for restaurants that don't charge $1.50 for a tea bag, don't charge $2 for a cup of coffee, and don't charge $3 for an espresso.
* I'm thankful for good bread.
* I'm thankful for restaurants that don't force me to watch television or listen to music during dinner.
* I'm thankful when servers steer me away from the kitchen's less successful dishes.
* I'm thankful for good, inexpensive house wine served by the glass.
* I'm thankful for BYOB restaurants.
* I'm thankful for restaurants that have a table ready for me when I arrive at my reservation time.
* I'm thankful for well-written menus that accurately describe what I've ordered.
* I'm thankful for misters and heaters so I can eat outside.
* I'm thankful for all the immigrants who settle in the Valley, opening restaurants featuring homeland fare.
* I'm thankful for prime-grade beef, fresh fish and local produce.
* I'm thankful for a cheese course with great French, Italian and Spanish cheeses.
* I'm thankful for on-the-ball busers who keep the water glasses and breadbaskets filled.
* I'm thankful, for my wife's sake, for restaurants that have more than one stall in the ladies' room.
* I'm thankful for restaurant owners who greet me when I arrive, and thank me for coming when I leave.
* I'm thankful for house-made desserts.
* I'm thankful for employees who are polite, friendly and efficient taking reservations over the phone.
* I'm thankful for ample parking, and hustling valet service.
* I'm thankful for servers who know everything about everything on the menu.
* I'm thankful for chefs who stop by the table and ask how the meal is going.
* I'm thankful for freebies, like an appetizer nibble or postprandial cordial.
* I'm thankful for nonsmoking sections.
* I'm thankful that nifty grains like quinoa and couscous are showing up on more and more menus.
* I'm thankful that chefs are pouring raspberry sauce over fewer and fewer dishes.
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* I'm thankful for vegetables that aren't so al dente you need the incisors of a wolf to bite into them.
* I'm thankful for good food, in a nice setting, served at a fair price.
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