Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Ass Out of You and Me

When given the option of going to a local restaurant, or going to a chain, I'm always going to go with the local restaurant. This is because I assume that local restaurants will always be more interesting, more memorable, and just BETTER.

So the following is a lesson is about what happens when you assume. 

Are you following where this is going?

I don't want to get mean about this---because then no one is going to learn. So lets start out with the positives.

The Tea Steak House is cute, with a down-to-earth, local feel. In a small town like this (Tea, SD), this is where the old, long term locals eat. Which is always a good sign---when you see old people eating somewhere, you have to think that they've done something right to get them to keep coming.
 It's unpretentious, relaxed, and has very affordable lunchtime prices on everything on the menu. Their special, for instance, was around only $5. 

Everyone there seemed nice, polite and genuine.

Now, onto the food. This is the part where things go more downhill.

I ordered a steak sandwich with fries. 

Now, I make certain assumptions about the word "sandwich" that I am beginning to believe must be some sort of unfair cultural presumption--I assume that "sandwich" implies "something between two slices of bread" or at the very least, if you want to get generous about it, "something between two slices of something else." Unless I was supposed to shingle the fries together and make the bun myself, I'm pretty sure this is not a sandwich.

But maybe I am wrong---which I am starting to think because this is the SECOND TIME this has happened to Dave and I. The other incident involved an unfortunate evening at the Gateway in Sioux Falls, wherein Dave received a burger inexplicably sans bun. Upon asking for a bun, said waitress seemed very confused, as if the request of a bun could be likened to asking for extra marshmallows in your beer.

Yet, I digress. Assuming I am the one who made a mistake, lets move on. How was that steak sandwich?

Do you like a thick unrendered fat ring and an absence of seasoning on your steak? Then this one is for you. On one hand, if this slab of meat HAD been sandwiched in a bun, it would have been impossible to eat, as so much of the steak was not edible. 

It was cooked to the doneness I asked for. So points there.

There were other issues at this meal, but I won't go into them in detail. Lets just say, they ran out of the special, the order was delayed, and at the end of the meal, this candy display was looking mighty appetizing.
But then something happened that it is very difficult to gloss over. 30 minutes to an hour after we left the restaurant, two of our party of three came down with food poisoning.

I'm not the CDC, but it's not looking good for you here, Tea Steak House.

I CAN proudly say that I was not one of those three to fall ill, which is actually rather unusual. I have inherited my paternal family's stomach, which is notoriously known for being made of a soft, porous material that soaks up any intestinal malady around. I couldn't figure out what I had or hadn't eaten that neither of them had, so I was left to conclude that it must be something that I am consuming that they are not. 

Could it be kombucha?

 (This batch turned out great, by the way. Strawberry flavored, and made in smaller 20 oz bottles definitely preserves some of that fizziness better. Downside is that the bottles are clear, so you can see all the goopies.)

So, wrapping this all up....I wanted the Tea Steak House to be good. I really did. I was so in their corner. And I'll always be in the local restaurant corner, rooting for kitschy coffee shops and skeezy looking Mexican joints over Starbucks and Chevy's Tex-Mex any day.

But when you go to a place and get a tasteless meal, poor service and food poisoning, it really makes you wistful for a bit of reliable consistency. Even if you have to go to Applebees to get it.

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