My intended was Thai Naylin, a Thai (duh) restaurant that had opened on the corner of University and Capitol the last time I was on the day shift. It had taken out a Chinese place I loved, but I was willing to forgive. Figuring I had the time, I walked there, only to find out it had quietly gone out of business when I wasn't looking. With time rapidly evaporating, I knew I had to pick one of the places off of that intersection.
Pro: 7$ lunch buffet sounded pretty good.
Con: Giant national chain.
Pro: Healthy, filling.
Con: I rarely get to go out for lunch, so why buy a sandwich? Also, giant national chain.
Pro: Um...they bought a toaster before Subway? Help me out, I really don't know.
Con: Paying more money for Subway's cons.
Pro: Local business, good smells emanating from the premises.
Con: Knew it would cost more than fast food.
Despite the fact that Wife and I had managed to turn our summer without children into a financially tight time anyway, it was payday and Papa Joe's just sounded better. Hoping that they at least had a lunch special, I went inside.
Instantly I was struck by the look of the place. There were wooden booths, and wooden floors, and little wooden tables by the windows. Yet there was also a couch by a table with a chess board and magazines, and a TV showing the Olympics. The place was a perfect mix of class and casual. My waitress sat me at a little table by a window and I got to work studying the menu. It wouldn't have been that expensive to get a personal pizza, but if you've read this blog before you know that all I have to do is blink and Wife will want to go for pizza--just like the lunch hour time frame made me want to bypass sandwiches, the mere fact that I was treating myself to a meal made pizza a no-go. I briefly considered pairing up items from their appetizer menu before choosing the half-sandwich and soup option from the lunch specials. (You can see which specials I bypassed here.) Since I tend to be slow with menus and I didn't have much time, I chose the predictable Reuben for my sandwich and the cheddar bacon soup as my side. All specials come with a fountain drink, and to my delight plain iced tea was an option. It was bracingly hot outside, and I downed my first glass in seconds. Although I knew I was supposed to be eating on the cheap, I couldn't resist and got an appetizer on the side: grilled jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon.
Since I viewed these things as one whole meal that needed to be eaten, I told her that everything could just come out at once, but this ended up meaning my meal arrived before my appetizer. I started in on the soup. It was pretty good, but since I was going beyond my wallet's comfort level I hoped the rest of my meal would be better. There was plenty of smoky bacon in it, and it was rich and creamy with just the right amount of heat, but the chunks of celery populating the bowl were huge. Luckily, they were cooked completely through, but it still threw me each time a piece dominated a bite.
|The glare doesn't do the cross-section justice.|
My sandwich done, I waited for my appetizer. And waited. Luckily, the every present work radio I carry during my shift didn't have any news for me, so I contented myself to make up little stories about the group of very elderly people taking the large table and immediately ordering several pitchers of beer (war buddies, naturally) and the guy banging away angrily on his laptop over on the comfy couch (frustrated novelist? Student? No....trying to break up with his girlfriend via e-mail.) The one saving grace in all of this was that the waitress did make every effort to keep my tea full, and apologized numerous times.
|These will make you forget all of your cares.|
|Well, pizza and Bloody Marys.|