Yesterday various members of the Webner clan — Mom, Kish, Richard, UJ, Cath, Al, and I — had dinner at the Windward Passage restaurant in Upper Arlington. At least, I think you would call it dinner. We got there at 4:30 p.m. to beat the rush. Maybe “linner” is a better word for a meal that we consumed about two hours before we normally have our evening repast.
The Windward Passage, located in a shopping center at the intersection of Henderson and Reed Roads, is one of those throwback places. It has been around since 1973, and most of its patrons have been frequenting the restaurant for decades. I would wager that 99 percent of the patrons proudly carry their “Golden Buckeye” cards, and the average age of the drinkers and diners looks to be about 75. During our visit last night, the emergency squad paid a visit to tend to one of the diners who collapsed, which probably is not that rare an occurrence. I would not be surprised if every Windward waitress had to take CPR training to qualify for the job.
Given their age, it should not come as a surprise that the Windward’s patrons are early birds. Even arriving at the ungodly hour of 4:30, we barely got a table in the bar. The place quickly became packed. Thirsty seniors filled every seat at the bar, guzzling highballs and creating a serious din. In the meantime, crowds of elderly citizens lurked by the bar and hovered near the tables. Nothing like a white-haired guy with a walker and his elaborately coiffed wife glaring at you expectantly to spur quick consumption of your meal! At one point, when the people at the table next to us left, competing groups of hoverers scrambled for the seats — well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say they with as much determination and speed as their artificial hips would allow — and for a few minutes we thought we might have to break up a cane duel between two of the more boisterous seniors.
Columbus seniors love the Windward because the food is cheap, plentiful, and well-prepared. I can’t speak to the quality of the menu, generally, because I always get the same entree whenever I go there — fried Lake Erie perch with french fries. The perch are excellent — lightly battered, moist and flavorful, and not greasy, and the french fries are crisp. And if you are a senior looking to fill your belly and stretch your budget, you appreciate the fact that the meal comes with broccoli, cottage cheese and a basket of bread.
When we left at around 6 the bar area was jammed and there was a crush of starving seniors hanging out in the Windward’s waiting area — no doubt regularly checking with the maitre d’ to see where they stood on the waiting list and looking in the dining room hoping to stare down a few diners and intimidate them into leaving early. When Kish and I got home we decided to join AARP.