I want to like Del­ray Beach. I really, really do. There’s a main drag that’s pedestrian-friendly, there are a lot of non-chain restau­rants and peo­ple who live there con­stantly talk about how much they love it. But I don’t love it so much. The shop­ping area is ripe for inde­pen­dently owned, beachy sorts of stores, but I can never find any­thing I want to buy. It’s rare that a shop­keeper is friendly. The non-chain restau­rants tend towards over­hyped and over­priced. I’m not a cheapskate—I don’t have a prob­lem with spend­ing money on good food and good expe­ri­ences. I do have a prob­lem with spend­ing money on second-rate food and mid­dling experiences.

Charged with find­ing a meet­ing spot in Del­ray a few week­ends ago, I ran through our options: we always go to Thai; Cof­fee Dis­trict doesn’t have a big food menu; and, while I’ve never eaten a bad meal at Tryst, a Fri­day night there is about as appeal­ing as under­cooked chicken.

My mom sent me a link to a post at Mark Bittman’s blog titled “An Open Let­ter to an Unnamed Chef,” with a note—“Let’s not go here!” Chowhounders deter­mined that the unnamed restau­rant was Delray’s Taste Gas­tropub, and that the place Bittman had orig­i­nally wanted to try was Bam­boo Fire, a Caribbean place off of Delray’s thoroughfare.

I know I said we were done with new restau­rants, but I fig­ured one more wouldn’t kill me. The ver­dict on Bam­boo Fire: worth it. Fla­vor­ful food cooked with love—it was so good that I told Mr. TRF we would go back next time we needed a place to eat in Delray.

One week later, we were back. We talked to one of the own­ers, Don, for a while after our meal. I told him how much my friend and I had enjoyed eat­ing there the week before. He told us the past week had got­ten them a lot of press: the New Times deemed them Best Caribbean Food and some writer from the New York Times.…

Mario Batali was, sadly, not in atten­dance, but I do like this photo.

Mark Bittman! When did he come in?” I asked.

Don’s response: “He was here the same night you were, but sit­ting inside.” He ges­tured to the table Bittman sat at. Less than ten feet and a pane of glass sep­a­rated us.

I’m not sure what, if any­thing, I would’ve said, but I am kick­ing myself for not going inside once dur­ing our two hour meal.