I complain a lot that there are no decent "chefy" restaurants in our little city. If we cross into Minneapolis or St. Paul there are plenty of options, but it becomes a full blown night on the town when you add the logistics of driving and parking and whatnot.
This fall our big chain monopoly increased as two burger joints (Culvers and Smashburger) joined Outback and McDonald's and Dave's and KFC and Taco Bell (yawn), and there was a nifty Japanese addition that is sadly too expensive for this eater. But the closest thing we have to quality dining is a bakery across the street from our house that sells frozen soups.
How I long for a little neighborhood joint with small plates and an easy wine list. Maybe a pasta bar or a bistro with outdoor seating in the summer and an adult-friendly atmosphere (a.k.a. no screaming children whose parents are friends with the chef ala The Strip Club). Brunch on the weekends would include cured salmon and house special bloody Marys. Happy Hour would feature chef's choices like at Bewiched. And our server would be that perfect blend of friendly but unassuming.
Until my dream bistro comes we'll continue to be grateful for the Caesar Salad with dressing on the side and endless glass of wine at D'Amico, and enjoy Happy Hour at Big Bowl, and whine about the state of dining in our little city with the big chains.