I got a hankering for a road trip lunch today but couldn't think of a single friend who has Wednesdays off. Not that that stopped me, but it's always nice to have company for a sunny day drive.
And one of my favorite drives is out Route 5, so I picked up Main Street at 14th and made Charles City Tavern my destination. Yeasayer was blaring, plantations were passing and all was right with the world.
I love the charm of the tavern, even more so in warm weather when you can eat on the screened-in porch; when the hostess asked me where I wanted to sit, I left the choice to her. She put me in the sunny eastern dining room with an older couple at a nearby table.
They were looking at a map and discussing Jamestown as I listened to the specials and checked out the menu.
I decided on the soup du jour (potato, cheese and country ham) and bubble up (cheese and bacon open face sandwich) and a salad (Virginia apples, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, craisins, artisan lettuces with honey raspberry vinaigrette).
Musically, we were firmly in the 60s and 70s with the likes of Barry White, Edwin Starr and Jerry Butler serenading us from speakers above. It was perfect.
I couldn't resist asking the couple about their map searching. I learned that they'd lived in Midlothian for two years and were on a day trip to Jamestown for no better reason than a sunny drive. They were tickled to hear that I had been motivated for the same reason. Now we were friends.
I'd noticed that the curtain on the window by their table had been pulled up and anchored with salt and pepper shakers.
It was for the light and the view, they said, so I did the same with my curtain, revealing a view of the fields and an outbuilding. It wasn't quite the porch, but it was much more pleasant.
They asked where I was from and I asked the same of them. He answered "The Northern Neck" and she "Warrenton," so I made a leap of faith and asked if they'd met online. They had.
"Have you tried it?" he asked enthusiastically. I explained I had some trepidation about the whole concept of online dating ("But why?" he asked) and suddenly they became the poster couple for it.
They warned me about the pitfalls, talked about the variety of people on dating sites and assured me I'd be very popular online.
Our food arrived about then, and I was happy to let that topic die. They, too, had gotten the soup and we all thought it was stellar, chock full of country ham (more ham than potato chunks) and peas.
The bubble up was delightful, a variation on my favorite 2 a.m. snack of late (tallegio and bacon grilled cheese), although this version was topless.
My salad featured some beautiful lettuces and an abundance of apple matchsticks and did a fine job of balancing the richness of the soup and sandwich.
Afterwards, we got to talking about the Northern Neck and I recommended the Lancaster Tavern to them as worthy of a day trip meal, especially with the original jail and courthouse just across the street for touring.
Once again the map came out as we established exactly where the tavern is and they said they appreciated the recommendation.
As I put on my coat, I thanked them for their company. "Go online!" he told me, returning to the subject of dating. "It's not scary and it works! Look at us! Just don't give them your phone number right away."
"And meet in public places," his charming mate chimed in. "You're going to do very well online at your age, sweetie."
Jeez, they knew I was single on sight and now they'd figured out my age. I had a sense that if I'd walked out of the room and immediately walked back in, they would have disappeared, having accomplished their do-good mission.
I'm a little hesitant not to listen to the blissed out couple I randomly met in the middle of nowhere.
What if they were the reason I took that road trip lunch today? Stranger things have happened.