Korean Garden Restaurant (copy)

A selection of dishes at the Korean Garden Restaurant is shown from a Feb. 2020 restaurant review by Robin Intemann. Those reviews will resume now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased. 

For many, the past 15 months were a time of carryout and home delivery. I didn’t stay away from restaurants, but neither did I venture inside. That’s a long time to go without dining in — and, for me, writing about it. I’m excited I get to pick up where I left off.

In early March 2020, I submitted a review only to have it returned with a note from my editor to hold it for a while. Reviews were on hiatus. Even though it was a few days before everything shut down, the decision made sense.

No one knew what to expect, but we understood — even if it was only a week or two — that places might struggle. It didn’t feel right, whether the review was positive or not. The former could overrun staff; the latter, well, I think we can guess that something negative would be like a final nail.

Back then, COVID-19 was only on our radar and not in our direct line of sight. We knew the state’s first diagnosis was in Summit County, and other parts of the country were experiencing increased cases.

Shortly before submitting that final review, I enjoyed my last meal at a downtown restaurant with two friends to celebrate a birthday. Lunch is usually a busy time for any dining establishment, especially where we’d decided to meet, but this was different. We were immediately seated and noticed how quiet the place was; there were few others besides us.

Service was exemplary, the food and companionship incomparable. Our birthday guest was gifted with a dessert, which the three of us heartily shared. When we left, we commented on the number of empty parking spaces, hugged and went on our ways.

Soon afterward, we learned the birthday friend had been at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center a few days earlier. Yes, that bridge center. Fortunately, she was fine, which was not the situation for others. We quarantined just in case.

My husband and I decided early on we would do what we could to support area businesses, particularly locally owned restaurants. We were impressed with the way many transformed their in-house dining routines to accommodate carryout.

I’d never before considered takeout from, say, The Margarita at Pine Creek, or getting mixed drinks with a to-go order at Cerberus Brewing Co. Previously, most of what we’d ordered for takeout or delivery was pizza. Our horizons, and waist sizes, widened.

Now, as we enter what I hope is the post-COVID era, I’ll be back inside cafes, diners and restaurants that are, among other types, upscale, family- friendly or only open for breakfast.

I plan to maintain my anonymity but also want to query staff and owners about their situations. I suspect there might be instances where service isn’t up to par because of a shortage of employees. This shouldn’t be construed as criticism, simply an acknowledgement of the circumstances. I’ll continue to select restaurants that reflect not only diverse cuisines, but a variety of price points and different parts of town.

If you have suggestions for restaurants for consideration, let me know. I’m well aware my reviews don’t please everyone. Still, as I’ve told those who’ve expressed this in the past: reviews are opinion-based, and thank you for reading!

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