Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jive Town Talking

I was so cranky when I left the Town Talk on Tuesday night that I've been wrestling with whether I should even bother writing it up. It wasn't that I had an abysmal experience, it was just so far from good. Part of the problem is that I keep trying to dine out on a Tuesday - not a Varsity Dining Day. But when your date works in the service industry, your weekends can be a little packed.
So, Matt and I decided to try the Town Talk for dinner after a drive by of the new Nick & Eddie's. (I think they might be too new to judge - and the wait staff were all peering out the window like a sad little box of puppies. Creepy.)
First, there's the parking, which is why I don't usually go there. We had to park a block away. I thought that they had valet, but I'm guessing not on the JV nights. That was fine. We walked down the alley and narrowly avoided being hit by a rusted out Buick.
Our waitress seemed nervous that we were so early (it was only 5:30.) She said the specials were butternut squash soup and some kind of fish I'd never heard of. She was blushing. I decided to order one of the specialty drinks as they boast, not a bartender, but a Mixologist behind the bar. Matt rolled his eyes. What you have here is the Jackson Pollock. It's Saphire Gin, Grapefruit juice and basil oil for the dribblies. It came in a teeeeeeny glass with a shaker to keep the rest of the drink cold. It took me forever to finish this thing. It was so puckery and strong!
We started out with the Farmer's Platter. The menu explination was just that it was a selection of local meats and cheese. What we received was lovely, if confusing. On one side of the plate was sliced sausage with a sliver of cheddar cheese on crackers - three to be precise. The other side of the plate were squares of blue cheese, topped with onion marmelade also on crackers. In the middle was a glass full of white something. Either end of the plate were marinaded olives and mushrooms. Everything was wonderful, I had no idea what anything specifically was and really had no clue on the white stuff. It tasted cold and innocuous. A lot like nothing much. Matt loved it. I flagged down our waitress, "What is this?"
"Pickled fish."
Oh, okay. The whole thing was good, but not great. Matt hates blue cheese, so those three were mine, but that meant that I didn't really get any of the others, nor did I get anywhere towards feeling satisfied.
Next is where we really went wrong. Matt was jonesing for the scallion battered Carr Valley cheese curds, but couldn't decide on anything else. I wanted something less munchie and more like something that could be called dinner. While the braised short ribs really had my attention, I decided to go for something half the size. I ordered the Fearless Frank which was promised to come with all kinds of ridiculous acoutriments. It did. I got a red colored weiner drowning in sauce and topped with cheese on a soggy bun. The meat tasted really good, but only in the center of the weenie, because the rest was charred, split and dried into a leather like substance. The French fries were the usual restaurant immitation McDonald's fries, but they were sitting on a bed of salt. The chili sauce on the dog was also super salty. I looked around wondering if I was being bated for this weekend's deer opener.
The cheese curds were good, but also not outstanding. Plus, they are cheese curds, so you have to inhale them while scalding hot because the minute they begin to cool, you realize that you are eating a basket of grease. The homemade ketchup served with them was distirbing. It was room temperature on the surface, but the center was just icy cold. And the flavor was a little off putting and really overwhelmed the curds. Matt hated it. I was using it for a little bit to scrape off the excess salt from the fries, but have to admit that Hines got it right. That's what ketchup should be and as much as I am a fan of from scratch, homemade cooking - leave my ketchup alone.
After we were done eating I had the inklings of a regret that I haven't felt since my single days of trolling Liquor Lyle's. Plus, all the gin, grapefruit juice and salt was making my skin warm and prickly in a sick kind of way. I wanted to crawl out of myself.
The room wasn't relaxing either. There was a shrieking toddler at the table behind us and the nervous server. By the time we left I was so unnerved and cranky that I don't think I crawled off the ceiling until nearly the end of the night.
I remember that I did really enjoy having breakfast at the Town Talk Diner, and might do that some other time. But, I spent the majority of my ill chosen meal staring longingly at Manny's Tortas across the street. Now, there is some good food. When the Grand Slam EXTREME that Denny's was advertising in there window started to sound good, I knew I wouldn't be recovering from this meal for quite some time.


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