DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Thursday, April 5, 2018. A Mini-Vacation. A few weeks ago I mentioned to Mary Ann that I needed a short vacation. She immediately became an advocate for that idea, while not including herself in the break. Instead, her ideas were travelettes that would appeal to almost nobody but me.

“You should take the train to Meridian for a day or two and have dinner with Mary Leigh while you’re there,” MA said. Mary Leigh is our daughter. Meridian is where ML she is engaged for her employer with a large design project. The train is the Crescent, Amtrak’s stretch of rail from New Orleans to New York City, with points in between like Atlanta, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, Laurel, Charlotte, Picayune, Washington, and Slidell. All served by the same train! And you don’t have to go to Baltimore to go to Meridian!

I think I’ve made it clear in this journal that I like trains. The Crescent is one of the three trains working out of New Orleans, and the one that I travel least often–even though it’s the best of the three in terms of track smoothness.

This plan has me doing something I’ve not done on a train before: to take a long-distance round-trip run in just one day. I’ll depart in the early morning from Union Passenger Terminal (next to the Superdome). After having breakfast in the diner, I’ll get off the train when it stops in Meridian in the late morning. ML will meet me and she’ll show me what she’s been doing here for the past few months. We’ll have lunch in what she says is the hottest restaurant in Meridian–a place that reminds her of Antoine’s.

In mid-afternoon I will re-board the Crescent for New Orleans. I will have dinner in the diner, if it’s offered, and we will reach the end of the line at around sunset. I will pick up my car and drive home. All in one day.

This is the only time ML and I will have the opportunity to take such a quick tour. I hear that her work in Meridian is impressive, and I’d love to see it.

The Amtrak website, which claims to plan and sell tickets, is so confusing as to be worthless. So I just went to the terminal and bought the tickets directly from the clerk. He says that he has been working at the terminal for over thirty years. That’s a solid ticket if I ever saw one.

Tickets firmly in hand, I head to Metairie for dinner at Porter and Luke. The waiter turns me on to the redfish on the half-shell–a nice, fresh fillet of red with minimal saucing, but good anyway. When I was about to dive into the salad (which could be freshened up a bit) a guy I know in the restaurant business landed on the other side of my table. His eatery is one of my personal favorites, a place I would attend more often if I didn’t have so many other restaurants to visit. As for my friend, he turned to the people with whom he was dining and predicted exactly which dishes I would recommend if they asked me. It all came down to just two dishes, both of which are not only good but unique.

My friend then asked me if his restaurant should have a cookbook. Absolutely they should, I told him, but if he’s asking me to write it, I must beg off. I already have too many projects in hand to take this one, although it would be an impressive job and might even make me a few bucks. But one can’t do everything.

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