Monday, August 13, 2012

Kitchen Nightmares


    I told my son, you pick the restaurant.
We were in an armpit of a town, an overnight pitstop from point a to point b during our family vacation.  The son had been a total trooper, so it was his pick.
     "Italian," he said, fully committed.
The front desk recommended Mike's Palace.
     Mike's Palace's menu was filled with columns and acropolis font.  Nice.   They offered Italian, American, Mexican and Greek, of course.  Olympian flat screen tvs promoted entree after entree.  The owners sat at a table by themselves, ignoring the flustered waitresses, occasionally coming out of hiding in order to seat determined customers, who apparently weren't going to leave quietly.  One owner in particular spent an inordinate amount of time picking her teeth, and startled a diner by abruptly returning a chair to the customer's table.  In short, this was not a promise of cultural fusion but of cultural discombobulation.  I lowered my hopes accordingly.
       The menu had truly remarkable offerings, braised asparagus with brown butter and parmesan, traditional pumpkin ravioli,  an ambitious watermelon and feta salad.  The polpettini were advertised as a mixture of beef and veal. You can't screw up a meatball, right?  I attempted to lower my expectations.
     I requested the polpettini from the waitress, who replied "The what?"
     I foraged ahead.  "Your menu calls them polpettini,  The meatballs."
    Moments later she brought a huge platter of antipasti to our table.  We had not ordered the antipasti.  I ordered a glass of wine, to help me through this travail.  As I waited, I wondered what Gordon Ramsay would make of this mashup.

Out came the wine, the pizza, my son's lasagna and my meatballs.
I took a bite of each. 
Every bite was heavenly.  The lasagna tasted as if the pasta were freshly made, the meatballs lovingly seasoned, the pizza a delight.  We were surprised to have enough leftovers for a cold pizza breakfast the following morning.

We tipped the waitress happily, and passed along our compliments to the chef.  (As we left I scowled disapproval at the still-banqueting owners, but they remained quite oblivious and unperturbed).

What culinary surprises, heavenly or otherwise, have you encountered this summer?


  1. Well, I just got a soft serve from Baskin Robbins. Tha is pretty much heaven for me.

  2. There are very few days ice cream can not improve--

  3. Nothing quite like the bliss you describe, but I must say I can be so easily solaced by chocolate chip ice cream that I can't have it in the house.

  4. Oh--but we did find a wonderful recipe for slightly burned asparagus.

  5. Your experience makes a great short story - the description of the owners was really funny as well as the waitress with her "what". I expected the worst and your dive surprised me.

    The dinning recommendations at the motels I stay at usually come in the form of a "Domino's Pizza" discount coupon - Yes I pride myself on 30 dollar a night motels. Just bring your own sheets.

  6. PB:oooh, slightly burned! Sounds fascinating--
    AH: Me, too. Which is why I read fiction.
    PA: This place didn't have a Domino's--or we'd a been there!