Monday, November 27, 2006

Another one bites the dust

My dinner plans took a great hit last week. With the 'rents coming in on Thursday, I was looking forward to another world class meal from what I considered the best of the small Iowa City restaurant lineup. I couldn't believe it as I strode up to the window peering into the darkened quarters. A small note on the door was all that stated what the blank insides cued me in on: Venuto's: World Bistro was closed, for good. It stated the customary "thanks" to its faithful patrons, and cited finances as the main reason for closure. 

What this comes down to, and illustrates more than anything, is that Iowa City is dying. Yep, I said it. This week has been an eye opener of sorts, because like any good kid living in the apartment world, I ran out of food. Not wanting to buy new groceries that could spoil, and partially because I wanted to dine out more, I was forced out into downtown Iowa City for food survival.   

You know what the problem in that is? If you don't want to eat at a bar, well, you're screwed. Wait, check that, you could eat at a fast food restaurant along the lines of Taco Bell (found out the perils of that on Monday). It's not bad simply that Venuto's closed, but rather another piece of the teetering unofficial restaurant alliance fell. Restaurants in walking distance of the eastern part of the campus are dwindling at an alarming rate. One-twenty-six, Givanni's, Takanami, and Devote, are about the only restaurants leading the charge anymore. If you go downtown to the Ped Mall, well, let's see, we could get plain grill food from Brothers, or maybe Vito's.

I'm not knocking these bars as badly as it may seem. My feeble attempts at cooking make me more that willing to participate in feasts at just about any place, but unique restaurants like Venuto's just don't come around that often. If I want a nine-course Mediterranean full on blitz of a meal, I'm out of luck. 

Last spring I was struggling to get a REAL restaurant reservation anywhere because of graduation. My friend was confused, because he assumed that it?d be easy to get into a place like Applebee's or Old Chicago, but herein lies the problem: As today's Iowa City and America in general continue allowing the death of the small restaurant, people begin to forget what the dining experience could mean. To me, going to a restaurant shouldn't be about wondering if the table is clean, or what some famous chef created on the latest commercial. No, my dream would be sitting down for two hours, getting my multiple-platter eat on, and if they would be so kind, how about that Mediterranean belly dancer.

Jon Van Dyke
DI editorial writer

No comments: