Monday, October 09, 2006

corner restaurant guide

My mom sent an email today, surprised that we have a pizza place downstairs. I forget that she hasn't been here yet.
The pizza place downstairs is not in our building, but two buildings up the street. Not far, obviously. There's also a Chinese place around the corner. Neither of these places is great, but convenient. And the pizza place has those gumball machines that have toys as well, and in the summer they have ices and now they've started having popcorn, so it's popular with the kids. (A lot of places right around here need to be popular with the kids in order to stay in business because there's a jr. high school across the street from the playground which is a big lunchtime business for them.) There's a much better restaurant at the corner, but it's quite pricey, so we've only been there three times - Madge was there three times: I've been once with her and Julie twice. In other words, it's too much for us to try to deal with Coco while we attempt to make it worth our while.
Between the three of them, I’m not sure which I’m smelling at any given time during the day, but since the pizza place serves fries at lunch and the Chinese place fries a lot of food as well, I think they’re both vying for olfactory dominance.
Back to the expensive place. There are several things about it that make me not want to go back, even though the pork chop I had there was the fattest slice of meat I’ve ever had, and oh-so-juicy. Still.
Strike one: I think the owner’s a prick. I’m not sure, but their kitchen is open to the street, so we can see what goes on, and their pantry is downstairs, so we see a lot of the traffic, too. Also, we witness the breaks the cooks take. During the year we’ve lived here, we’ve witnessed two “F-you” altercations between the owner and soon-to-be-former chefs. Both times the chefs left in a huff. One time we could hear the fight (verbal only) in our apartment. Not a mean feat. Both times the restaurant was vandalized shortly thereafter. Not that I’m drawing any kind of conclusions, I’m just reporting. The first time, I wasn’t sure who was to blame, since the chef seemed young and a hothead – this all happened after I’d seen him start slacking and making out with his girlfriend on the street. The second time it happened with a chef who was always super-friendly to us and seemed a nice guy – even though it seemed like he took an extraordinary amount of cigarette breaks.
Another (sorry) aside: This chef kept greeting me with, “Hi, Paul,” after we’d introduced ourselves. My name is Philipp. People sometimes call me Paul accidentally, but only after they’ve confused me with my several friends named Paul. But I never know how to correct them, especially if it’s from across the street. What am I going to do? “Hi, D. By the way, my name is Philipp.” “What’s that, Paul?” “MY NAME IS PHILIPP.” “Oh. Why didn’t you tell me before?” “I did.” “Oh. (Jerk.)” So I’m still known as Paul to him. He now works at a different restaurant in the neighborhood.
Still, the owner now parks his new motorcycle ostentatiously on the sidewalk (I’ve never seen him actually drive it). He never greets or smiles, even though I’m sure he recognizes us. And then there’s the other two strikes.
Strike two: The restaurant set up a booth at the park/playground when there were events like concerts, plays, and movies during the summer. Of course they were overpriced as always. I ordered a lemonade. And the thing was clearly not fresh, but made from a powder. Call me a snob, but for a restaurant of that price range, that is unacceptable.
Strike three: Their menu, in the year we’ve been here, hasn’t changed. The pizza place adds and changes items more frequently than they do. No wonder the chefs get fed up. Sure, the stuff is yummy, but come on, how about a little seasonal rotation.
Luckily there are more places to choose from, many of which have more friendly proprietors.
Caveat: Okay, so I’ve only eaten there once and
their website says they change the menu often. From what I’ve seen on people’s plates, though, I’m not so sure I believe it. But, until I actually check out the menu itself, I’ll stick with my overhasty assessment. This one may have been a ball.

Eek. I sure seem like an old lady snoop. Maybe that’s because I have nothing better to do than sit by my open window and watch neighborhood events unfold.
Actually, it’s because, without a car and with two kids that get out of school at different times, I walk by the corner quite frequently. And, once you keep your ears open and let your imagination run free, you can make up a whole lot of stuff about your neighborhood.

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