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“…And after that, we could go out to lunch, and then come home and put Toby down for his nap,” I told Just’In.

“Sounds good to me. Will you pick the place?”

“Sure,” I said.

My husband and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary last Saturday. Our anniversary was the sixth, and we’d made all sorts of fun-and-free activity plans, but then, we got the news that our car wouldn’t be back from being repaired until two days after our anniversary.

A short explanation: we are not normally a family who depends on a car for survival. He proudly bikes to work and I regularly use the bus for errands. But the buses don’t run on Saturday, and a friend who would have gladly loaned us his car was in Switzerland on a business trip. Our car is a weekend-and-grocery car.

So, on our anniversary, we exchanged gifts at the kitchen table and had a relatively low-key Saturday. And this Saturday, we went on a date, with sitter and all.
I picked Wild Pear Restaurant. It’s downtown and nearby all the art galleries we’d also planned to visit, and it’s reasonably priced. While I was weighing his eat-out suggestions versus what I had found, and even though it was my turn to pick, Just’In wanted to see the menu ; it’s an odd reaction for him—usually, he’ll only ask for the address. But he became excited…and then, he asked for the address.

The first thing that impressed me when I walked in was the furniture. The hostess table, the tables and the chairs are all black. Normally, this would be cheap, but when I sat down, I wasn’t staring at the furniture. I was staring at the beautiful ceiling and the walls.

Our waiter asked us what we wanted to drink, and I asked him for some information on Italian sodas. Their menu is odd—it just lists “Italian Soda” and then “Italian Cream Soda” with their respective prices. I asked what flavors they had.

“Well, it depends on whether you want a dark, heavy flavor, like coffee or chocolate, or a fruit-based flavor,” he told me. When I clarified that I’d like something fruit-flavored, he told me, “Pick a fruit, and I’m very sure that we’ve got it.”

I ended up telling him to surprise me. And he did, very pleasantly—I got a very tasty Blackberry Lime, with no ice, and a lime wedge on the glass. For food, Just’In ordered the wild pear chicken pizza and I ordered a starter and a half-salad.

We had fascinating, relaxed conversation, with no toddler to tend to. I noticed there were kids there and that there was a kid’s menu, but the atmosphere felt adult enough that I didn’t feel like I was in the wrong place.

I was very much in the right place; I knew it when the conversation ceases minutes after the entrees arrived. We were savoring and enjoying. I ordered the crispy corn risotto cakes, and we devoured them without devouring our conversation. Instead, I let him try it, and we commented to each other how wonderful they were.

It was earthy without being ugly, spicy without needing water, and the right combination of colors and textures. It was served on a bed of greens; the sauce was drizzled so that the greens that had the sauce on it felt natural with the tiny cakes.

And of course, without realizing it, we both ordered entrees with similar elements: pear, blue cheese, and roasted nuts. I ordered the Wild Pear Chicken Salad that had pear dressing and sticks of pear on the salad itself. My salad was well-balanced in flavors—the blue cheese wasn’t too strong, nor were there too many greens or too much dressing.

Only after Just’In devoured his meal did he tell me that he hadn’t ordered the fruit salad. “I wanted something in addition to the pizza, and I didn’t really care what.” He also told me that he could actually taste the pear on his pizza; it was better than a similar pizza we’d had at a different restaurant (in a different state) whose specialty is pizza.

I considered dessert, but my dearheart reminded me that we had a free ice cream social to attend as our last date activity. Now that I think about it, we could have told the waiter that we were celebrating and he might have brought us something special. Still, being only with each other was special enough for us. And eating out was even more refreshing.

The honest ambience of The Wild Pear was simply great, and our waiter left us alone but hadn’t disappeared altogether. And believe it or not, I haven’t told you everything; I like to leave something for you to discover yourself. It’s kinda like marriage: enter with good recommendations, good suspicions, and good attractions, and the adventure begins.

The Wild Pear is at 372 State Street in Salem.

Kate is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As much as she’s learned to seek out the subtle colors of the desert, Kate has found that she really is a tree girl at heart. She spent seven years in Utah, where she got a bachelor’s degree, a husband, and a baby boy. She got her fill of mountains and then got out. Kate posts on parents’ tips for kid-friendly traveling havens from a curious newcomer’s perspective; Kate is a very recent resident of Salem. To read more about Kate and her adventures, she writes with more personal ties here:http://explorewithtwine.wordpress.com.

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