DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Sunday, March 25, 2018. Zea. Covington: 110 Lake Dr. 985-327-0520. Here’s how the situation stands right now. MA’s car is still being worked on. So far, the mechanics are incapable of getting the car’s transmission to leave Park. The parts are allegedly en route, but what’s causing the problem is still a mystery. The car cannot move.

ML is in town to arrange the final pieces to close on the house that she will be buying later in the week. It’s a modest home, but for her to have bought a house with her own money at age 25 impresses me and everyone else who knows her.

The Marys head out to lunch in the afternoon. It’s a pretty day, and the view of the Bogue Falaya River is attractive. This creates a big waiting list for The Chimes, the Marys’ favorite restaurant and my least favorite. But every time I think Chimes is out of my life, it appears again. We wait outside for over an hour, until I throw in the towel and go somewhere else. The Marys continue to wait.

The nearest restaurant that suits me is Zea. Zea and Chimes have competed with one another for our business for many years. Main differences: Chimes has a great view and outdoor tables, and Zea has a pleasant but ordinary dining room. The food at Zea is incomparably better. But the latter issue is a matter of taste, while the atmosphere preference is indisputable.

Readers who have put up with this issue in this department for years have read it all before, for which I am sorry.

But Zea is in the middle of its annual seafood (read: Lent) season. That always brings forth a half-dozen or more new dishes, all of them from the seafood department. Tops on that list is the Asian fried oysters that appear at Zea every year at this time. That is the best dish on Zea’s menu, and I wish they offered it year-round. It being Sunday, the soup du jour is the tomato-basil bisque, long a favorite of mine. And a few other dishes we’ve spoken about in this space a week or two ago are as good as ever.

Whatever is jamming the tables at Chimes is having no visible effect on Zea. This says to me that eating great food may be decreasing in its importance to New Orleans. I have been increasingly worried about this in the past couple of years. I can’t decide whether it’s a fleeting thing, or a look at the future. People just aren’t as enthusiastic about eating well.