Courtyards, Hidden Away

The Roma restaurant of Cleveland Park has probably been closed for 30 years.  Located on the block across from the Uptown Theater, it served Italian food and had a garden in back for outdoor summer eating.  I always wondered what happened to the garden, thinking it long destroyed.

This morning, I stopped for a cup of coffee and a “Morning Glory” muffin at Firehooks Bakery in Cleveland Park, a place I frequent infrequently.  As I was paying, I noticed there was a back door, and it looked like a table outside.  I asked if there was a place to eat in back, and was told there was.  Exiting the bakery, I was astonished, because I was back in the Roma and it hadn’t changed a bit.  This fenced garden is not small; it is quite a large space.  The tables and outdoor wooden booths were all still there.  The fountain was still there.  The trellises and grape vines were all there.  Even the mural on the wall of the adjoining building and the four letters, ROMA, were there.  Who knew?

Later, I found myself in Georgetown.  At about 12:30, I decided to get a light lunch, and saw a small carry-out cafe called Bean Counter, very unpretentious, the kind of a place you probably wouldn’t walk into unless you were really looking for a simple, unpretentious lunch.  It looked more like a carryout than anything else; I only say two tables.  I asked for a turkey sandwich and some water.  As I was paying, I saw out the back door. It looked like another outdoor eating space.  I asked how you got there; the back door was behind the counter.  You would have to walk through the kitchen, which was none too big to begin with.  I was told you go out the front door, and there was small alley (yes, Georgetown small, probably less than three feet wide, that takes you to the back of the building.  Only four or five tables.  Somewhat rickety.  A big friendly dog, tied up.  But pleasant and quiet.  The owners appear to be Turkish.  The man at the table next to me came to this country to work at the Turkish embassy; he was from near Izmir, and is planning on returning next year.  We had a brief, but interesting conversation in this small, but pleasant (and unpretentious) courtyard.  Again, who knew?

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