Until this weekend, I had not darkened the door of Dalt's Grill since the early Reagan era. Opened in 1980, Dalt's was the brainchild of two Friday's Restaurant Group executives named Dave and Walt, and, for my mini-generation of moonwalking Madonnaphiles, the Lion's Head location was the still point of the turning world. On the last day of school before the holidays, we always went to Dalt's for lunch. I drank my first smoothie at the bar as we waited for a table--a virgin concotion called a Gold Medalist--and I ate my first fajitas there.
Before my posse could drive, our parents would drop us off at Dalt's with $10, which was enough for a milkshake, a basket of fried zucchini and a movie at the twin cinemas at the far end of the sidewalk. (I saw Out of Africa there.) When the movies ended and the groups of pimply boys and girls had exhausted all awkwardly flirtatious conversation, we'd wander back down the sidewalk to Wendy's. Someone would lob a call from a pay phone, we'd pool leftover change to buy a Frosty, and a designated dad would pick us up and drive us home to watch Friday Night Videos.
Back then, I didn't think about food quality so much as I worried about whether my jelly shoes matched my Bermuda bag, so I can't compare the Dalt's of my hormone-addled youth to the Dalt's of my maternally frazzled present. These days, Shannon Powell and family own the restaurant, which looks and feels a lot like it did back when I wore jeans with zippers at the ankles.
But while Dalt's is no longer my culinary destination of choice, now that I'm on the other side of the parent-child equation, I appreciate how kid-friendly the place still is. This weekend, we ordered a ribeye sandwich ($11.99)—thin sheets of steak on grilled bread with lettuce and tomato—and a salmon Caesar ($8.49)—a plain bed of Romaine topped with a moist log of wood-fired fish. Neither meal was memorable or noteworthy. But the children's plates were $2.99. I repeat: $2.99 for chicken fingers, mac-and-cheese, corn dog bites or a cheeseburger, with a side of fries or fresh fruit and a drink.
Short of a kids-eat-free situation, Dalt's might be the best kids' meal in town. With our Citipass coupon, the five of us ate for $40 including tax and tip. It almost felt like the 1980s all over again.