Duffy’s on the Lake

All summer it’s been a routine of mine to go out to dinner with my friend on our one night a week off from work. Although usually on Tuesdays, this week we switched it up with a Monday.

So Monday afternoon, my friend called me and told me to get ready for dinner. Most of the time we decide on a place to eat together, but this time she had already decided.
“Duffy’s on the Lake,” she said.
There was a pause on the phone for a few seconds before I responded.
“Seriously?”
“Why not?” she said.
“I just didn’t think you’d want to eat there, that’s all.”
“Pick you up in five,” she said. Then she hung up.
As we were driving down New Jersey Ave on our way to Duffy’s, I asked her again what made her decide to eat there.
“You’ve worked there for a million years. Don’t you want to try somewhere new?”
“That’s the best part,” she said. “That you can go back and see all the people you know, eat the food you love and watch the action going on in front of Sunset Lake. Anyway, they have the best sunset on the island.”
I couldn’t argue with any of those points, agreeing with what she said. She had a point.

We pulled up to Duffy’s to a line of people wrapped around the building, people sitting on the benches and crowding the stairs to the front door. We made our way past the crowds and in the door to the hostess—one of our old and good friends.
We were greeted with a smile and a little small talk before the rest of the staff—mostly all old friends—came over to say hello, and before we knew it, we were creating a traffic jam of our own in the waiting area.

We got hooked up with a window seat in the left hand corner of the restaurant, with a perfect view of Sunset Lake.
With the sound of the cups hitting the table as the waitress put our drinks down, my friend was placing her dinner order without even opening the menu.
“Shrimp and cavatelli with crab, please,” she said. “Nat, you’ve got to try this. You’re gonna cry at how good it is.”

I decided to do it up big and order the filet with sautéed zucchini. And a twice-baked potato. Yes, twice-baked.

As my friend chatted it up with our waitress, I took a look around the restaurant. It was packed, but not so in a rushed, annoying sort of way. Everyone was enjoying his or her meal…the atmosphere. An older couple at the table in front of us held hands across the table as they slurped their soups, and to our right, a little boy was playing with his toy trucks, riding them back and forth across the table, while the rest of his family laughed and conversed over the bottle of red wine they brought.
Our food came out just in time—just in time before I started eating the silverware and just in time for the sun to start setting.

So we sat and ate and watched the sun lower and cast out its colors over the lake.
Taking the last bite of my twice-baked potato, after devouring every single piece of steak on my plate, I was finally able to squeeze a few words in between mouthfuls.
“You’re right,” I said. “This place is legit—good friends, good food, good atmosphere. Especially good sunset. Now what are we having for dessert?”

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