I heard from a trusted 'hound friend who thought there may be something wrong at ECC based on a recent visit. Once before when the usual cook wasn't there I noticed a big difference, but everything got back to normal upon her return. So I went by today to check it out. I noticed she wasn't there, and gently prodded the owner about it--on the previous occasion he said she'd soon be back, but this time he was very evasive and not too friendly about it, which worries me. I ordered my usual, and as expected it was kinda OK but certainly not up to the usual high standard.
So maybe the jig is up at ECC. That cook was definitely the reason the place is (was???) so good AFAICS.
If anybody knows or learns anything more please post.