“Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.” — Walt Kelly
195 S. Union Blvd., Lakewood
I HAD DRIVEN PAST THIS RESTAURANT several times in the prior two weeks, so I went on line and viewed the well-written menu. Really interesting. Escargot, mussels, bruschetta, pate a la Maison, calamari, and other interesting munchies. The menu also included a variety of soups and salads. But it was the entrees that got me excited. Duck a L’Orange, chicken Marsala, schnitzel, Entrecote au Poivre (pepper steak), baked salmon, scallops and other items. G and I decided to go that very nite. Into each life a little rain must fall onto your dinner plate.
We were seated by the window, noting that the restaurant was not very busy. It was a lovely room, replete with fresh linen table cloths; none of that foo-foo paper on top of the table cloth so that the table cloth shouldn’t get dirty. Our W greeted us immediately and took our drink orders. She neglected to tell us about the dinner specials but we didn’t know they had any until we heard another W tell the folks at the next table about them.
We were served tasty croissants with wrapped butter. I hate wrapped butter. I have to unwrap what I think I’m going to eat and then wash my hands to get the greasy butter off.
G loves bruschetta, so we ordered it for starters. The menu’s description was mouth-watering: Margherita Bruschetta: grilled bread with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil chiffonade, finished with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze. Did you see the words, “chopped onions”? Any mention of onions smothering the dish? That’s cuz it didn’t say anything about onions. We don’t like raw onions. The W came by and asked if something was wrong and G politely told her the dish traditionally doesn’t come with onions and there was no mention about onions on the menu. We didn’t care for the dish prepared that way. In addition, the mozzarella had been heated, so it constantly slid off the top of the dish. Never have seen mozzarella served that way before. No problem, take this weird dish away.
G ordered the Pork Chop Normandy with calvados cream mushroom sauce, linguine and veggies; sounded delish. I ordered the duck. The W told me it would take about 15 minutes to prepare the duck. OK with me. About 5 minutes later, both our dinners arrived. G commented that it sure was a quick 15 minutes. That shudda made us nervous, but neh. My duck looked magnificent. A beautiful crispy duck leg and breast with a selection of fresh veggies on the side. G’s pork also looked terrific. Then we ate.
G immediately reacted. Her pork was tuff and dry. The accompanying linguine was good, but covered with a sauce that had congealed. Ugh.
My beautiful duck was ultra-dry. The skin was terrific but the meat underneath was inedible. Uh oh, this was not good. About the time we were making faces at each other, and tasting each other’s dishes, the manager came by. G is the last person in the world to complain about a dish but what we had was so bad, it wasn’t possible. G told her about each dish. The manager asked if we wanted anything else, and we replied in the negative. Three outta three ain’t good odds. She sed that she would take both dishes to the kitchen and show them to the cooks.
I asked her to bring the bill for the drinks and the appetizer; we had eaten some of the bruschetta and enjoyed our drinks. The manager refused to accept any payment. I left a ten dollar gratuity on the table, and we left the restaurant.
G and I were getting into our car when this “person” in a dirty cook’s uniform came out the front door. He stood outside the door and started screaming at me. That’s when I shudda turned on muh tape recorder.
He yelled at us that we were just scamming to get a free meal, and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with either the duck or the pork chop. I asked him, in an almost moderate voice, if he had looked at either dish. He replied that he hadn’t cuz “they” had thrown it away. I then asked him how he could know if he hadn’t bothered to look at the dishes. Then I suggested he go into the kitchen and look in the trash. He yelled even louder, telling me that he didn’t have to look at it, that he himself had personally cooked the duck yesterday. “Yesterday?” I asked, “Did you leave the oven on all day and all nite?” Methinks that might have riled him just a bit more than he already was. Now I knew why the duck came out early; it was already completely cooked.
G told him about her pasta, and that we had offered to pay for everything but the manager wouldn’t take payment. He screamed at me that I was lying and all I wanted was a free meal.
Then I stupidly sed that I would probably return and try lunch, cuz any restaurant can have a bad day, and he screamed louder about my just wanting a free meal and I replied that my plan didn’t work cuz I was still hungry and was now going to a real restaurant.
As he went back inside, I saw four couples who had been watching this entire event. They were heading for the restaurant when this joker came outside. They watched the whole thing, and when he finally went back inside, they looked at me and one of them asked what I really thought. As I rolled on the ground in laughter, I sed, “I ain’t never going in there again.” They got into their cars and left. As did G and I.
Well, that’s why this column is called “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” But in this case, our dining critic Jay Fox may have been right on. Let him know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.