Niagara Gazette

January 4, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Island life loses some of its serenity

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Munchers — There’s every indication, including a tidbit in last Sunday’s Gazette, that we’re going to have to come ashore for what Doug considers the world’s best fish fry. Gastronomically, Serene Gardens is giving up the ghost.

About three years ago Serene Gardens introduced a Japanese lifestyle to a culture dominated by pizza shops (seven that we can think of). Alongside a landscaping enterprise that earned praises far and wide, it had a quiet, yea, Serene, restaurant offering a nice variety of Japanese specialties and teas.

While we cherished the dumplings, twice a sellout hit at the Taste of Grand Island, Doug came to really flip out for the fish fry, with a lean panko breading, actually finishing the large, whereas others’ mediums would test his capacity. Not Polly. She’s seafood averse. The only thing she likes that swims is Doug himself.

But it might almost have been too serene for its own good. Even with a glowing review from the big city, and ongoing compliments from such sites as Trip Advisor, we never saw more than a handful of fellow diners. Doug knows numbers and this didn’t look good.

Then came word of Serene’s Smith family (no relation to us, except as universal) opening a “second location,” 739 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo. Fair enough, why should we have all the fun, and that’s a nice, busy, pedestrian area (as opposed to here, where walking is looked on as almost as a fetish). Now, though, it appears as if the new place, Sato, will replace, not supplement, our hideaway.

We’re sad. Sayonara, Serene Gardens, we hardly knew ye’, at least not well enough.

•••

UNPLUGGED: So where were we when the lights went out? Trying to get away for the holidays, not looking likely with a needy cat and the temperature southbound.

Like most in our corner of paradise, we’re dependent on a pump to keep the pool out of the basement, and as Dec. 22’s powerless hours wore on, Doug headed down to set some valuables up on tables and shelves lest the seepage begin.

In the process, he dropped and broke our only flashlight. Actually, our whole lack of preparedness was appalling, but there we were less than three hours from sunset with our last torch on the disabled list.

Doug was summoning the nerve to call Good Neighbor Sid, one of those handy guys who’d offered to assist, when there was a click and a whirr and the lights came back on.

We have to wonder whether this last straw had invoked some Divine pity.

Whoever You were, thank you.

The rest of you, come visit. Bring a generator.

Polly and Doug E-mail pollyndoug@hotmail.com