My Dinner With Mo, Part Two

In which our intrepid dining editor visits cougar country.
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Silver Spring House is Mo Egger’s favorite restaurant. Ranked No. 1 on his Top 10 restaurant list (posted on his blog as a foil to my list in the annual restaurant issue), he’s dined at the Symmes Township establishment “hundreds of times”—sometimes several times a week. No one could accuse Mo of being capricious. He even orders the same meal—the Spring House Chicken—every time. “I’ve never really looked at the menu,” he admits.

It’s no surprise that Silver Spring House is Mo’s choice for Game Two of our dining double header (see “My Dinner With Mo,” in the July issue). It’s a gorgeous weeknight, and I’m feeling rather confident I’ve got a lock on the series. After calling the magazine “stuffy” and insinuating that my list caters to abnormal diners, Mo was appropriately humbled by a “stunning” dinner at Boca several nights earlier.

It takes three trips around the half-acre parking lot to find an empty space. Mo is waiting at the bar of the semi-enclosed patio, which is swarming with a couple hundred noisy diners and drinkers. The main dining room is equally crowded. “It’s always like this,” he says, responding to my surprise. As we’re shown our table and get busy ordering two half chicken dinners with onion rings, Mo continues to make his case for why it’s his favorite restaurant. “It’s not douche-baggy,” he says. “There are no hipsters, no see-and-be-seen, just people who want great chicken and beer. Plus, you can throw peanut shells on the floor.” I can definitely see the appeal, and am thrilled at the chance to use douche-baggy in a column. I point out to Mo that amid all this wholesomeness, the activity in the bar area suggests it’s fertile ground for cougar hunting. As we fork through the citrusy crunch of Caesar salad, and wash down greasy, sweet onion rings with beer, Mo concedes that the restaurant is a “haven for divorcees” and thus, plenty of guys with “DWR” (divorced women radar). Ah. That explains the inordinate amount of aftershave and stilettos for a place devoid of hipsters. But food is what defines a “best” restaurant, and the chicken is everything Mo claims it to be: salty, crisp skin giving way to tender flesh, perfumed with lemon and garlic. It’s a perfectly legitimate reason to never investigate the rest of the menu. Though Silver Spring House and Boca are in different leagues, I bestow the exact same appraisal on this dinner as Mo did for the first: Phenomenal.

And that’s really the point. Just as you can experience some good baseball at a minor league game, if you want to see baseball played at its finest, you’ll have to pony up the bucks for a major league game. Good food—and good dining experiences—comes in many packages. It just depends on what you want.

Originally published in the August 2009 issue.

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