6/8/09

Dining in The Twilight Zone

Well, it's actually called The Beach House in Morro Bay, but I'm pretty sure it was featured on that TV show sometime in the late 60s.

We wandered in last night with the kiddos for an early bite to eat having heard rumors of good food and great desserts. For starters, the mismatched decor of Grandma Maymee's living room caught me a bit off guard, and upon further inspection discovered crocheted placemats (mismatched, of course) gracing the tables alongside several pots of fake flowers. This rather unsightly display was accompanied by various ceramic salt and pepper shakers in the shape of palm trees and kittens or other farm animals. Christmas lights were strung around the windows and nick knacks strewn as far as the eye could see (even into the kitchen area where the bumper sticker read, "My other seat is at The Giants Game" on the heat lamp). Beaded jewelry was displayed at the register alongside a collection of metal cats holding empty wine bottles and a few wicker baskets with complimentary mints.

We were greeted by a colorful, middle aged gentlemen with a sultry accent who wore turquoise hookah beads, an earring and a Giants Baseball Cap with his Hawaiian Shirt. I spied a pair of Bermuda shorts beneath his apron, accessorized by none other than white socks and sandals. Awesome.

He seated us and presented menus while spewing off a number of cliche greetings, the specials and then this, "I do not have a children's menu printed but I do have a verbal one which I can recite to you now. I have carrot sticks with ranch dressing. I can do pasta any way imaginable, cheese, marinara sauce, butter, white sauce, you name it. I also have little cheese pizzas, chicken tenders or the best grilled cheese in town." Then he continued through the specials adding, "Each entree does come with soup or salad. The Soup Day Jour (that's how he said it) is Chicken Tortilla or we also have Clam Chowder, which is a 2 dollar upgrade but I guarantee it is a wise investment. You won't be disappointed, I make the best darned clam chowder around." And then he left saying, "The waitress will be right with you, she's just finishing up some desserts in back."
I kept repeating the words "Soup Day Jour" in my head wondering about the origin of its mispronunciation. Soup Day Jour....
We surveyed the dining area, which was all of 9 tables, mismatched furniture, and one other couple eating dessert in the corner. The windows were grubby and the, the, holy SH%$!!! I just opened my menu to survey my options and the prices ranged from $21 to $32 an entree. WTF? I scanned through the lighter plates and appetizers in hopes of getting away with a cheaper bill. Nope, it was Grandma Maymee's Secret Pot Roast recipe for me tonight. And that was that.

When the waitress arrived to take our order I asked for macaroni and cheese for Ana and a cup of clam chowder for Shelby.

The waitress furrowed her brow, "Uhm," she said as she held up one finger and turned her head to shout into the tiny kitchen pass through, "Gerald, did you say you can do a mac n cheese?" And before she could finish her sentence, there he was again, Giants baseball cap, hookah shells, there to inform me that he only had parmesan cheese tonight for the pasta. So the term, "pasta any way imaginable" wasn't exactly accurate. Okay, then.

When we settled on our menus and ordered some wine, I was pleasantly surprised by the casual banter we kept up with the waitress/owner/wife of the hookah shells. We enjoyed Chronic Cellars wine by the glass, an obvious incentive for our visit. The waitress brought focaccia bread in a metal bucket and pointed out, among all the other nick knacks on the table, two bottles with oil and vinegar hiding on our table. The bread was warm but flavorless, and something about the oil and vinegar tasted like dust.
My dinner arrived drowned in dark brown gravy (a flashback to my pregnant days in Australia when the woman we lived with would douse every meal in gravy, rendering it completely inedible to a prego with nausea). John ordered the bacon wrapped salmon. Shelby and I both enjoyed her clam chowder and the minute we said it aloud, there was hookah shells looming over our table to share all the inner workings of clam chowder and his secret recipes. Doesn't this guy have cooking to do in the kitchen?
The girls couldn't keep their grubby mits off all the breakables on the table, and when we finished dinner dessert was unavoidable. Chocolate lava cake and strawberry shortcake. They were divine. Well, I wouldn't know about the strawberry shortcake because Shelby inhaled it before we could get a bite.
So we left bizarro world after paying our $100 bill. That's right folks, for a wood paneled dining experience and okay food, we paid a fine dining price.

1 comment:

NewportJaime said...

It is always fun eating at Mom-and-Pop restaurants (except when leaving with empty pockets). There aren't enough of them in my neck of the woods.