Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Sleep Til Baltimore (part two)

So, where was I? Ah, the three of us were weary, hungry and sweaty and really just wanted a decent meal and a beer. Not too much to ask. We really wanted to hit the road soonish, so rather than seek out a super-fabulous place to eat we decide to stay downtown and find a restaurant in Little Italy, since we're already practically there.

We drove around and almost immediate see a restaurant that looks promising. Italian! Seafood! I long for fried calamari. Or even some pizza. We find a place to park in a deck with a stupidly complicated system of plastic coins, gates and pay kiosks and start walking around.

We walk, we look at a menu, we walk, we look at another (almost identical) menu, we walk, menu, walk, menu, walk, menu. All the posted menus are eerily similar and overpriced, leading me to speculate that it's all one big restaurant with an adjoined basement kitchen and a complicated system of conveyor belts. Hmph.

During our walk we past by a shop with this lovely window display:

We walked over to look at another menu and, hooray, it has pizza! Go pizza with your affordable self! And calamari! Yay! We walk in and find ourselves in a long dank hallway that lead into a dark, medieval looking dining room that's completely empty.

"This looks like the kind of place you never get to leave, if you know what I mean."

"Creepy! Let's get out of here."

We leave and walk around the corner to find, hooray! The original restaurant that we'd seen from the car. We look at the menu and it's identical to the creepy kidnap place around the corner. We realize it's the same restaurant but we'd tried to go in the weird back way before. This door looks much more inviting and we can actually see people eating, so it must be okay, right?


We didn't leave because we were hungry. Really really hungry. We are seated and our waitress comes over to greet us. She has a spooked nervousness about her that is soon explained when she tells us that the restaurant just reopened after being closed for a year for renovations. Oh, and they don't have any seafood or pizza right now.

Of course they don't.

She takes our drink order and Tasha blows her mind by ordering a Yuengling lager. She'd never heard of it, couldn't pronounce it, had no idea if they carried it. We gently told her they probably did and to ask the bartender. Kelly ordered an ice tea which arrived looking like water with the slightest essence of tea:

I cannot even believe they had the nerve to serve it, honestly.

We ordered dinner! First, we asked for an Antipasto platter. When we order it the waitress, already nervous, flashed the whites of her eyes in panic. I am pretty sure she had no idea what "antipasto" was, but she wrote it down with a dubious look. Tasha and I ordered eggplant parmesan and Kelly ordered spaghetti and meatballs. DENIED. The Italian restaurant has no meatballs. The Italian Seafood restaurant has no meatballs, seafood or pizza. Jesus Christ.

Kelly orders chicken Alfredo with a question mark and the look of relief she gets back from the waitress is comical. YES. SCORE. We do actually get our Yuenglings and Kelly drinks her "tea" while we dutifully eat the really unpleasant bread. How do you ruin bread? They did.

The Antipasto arrives and we eat it. We eat a lot of it. Then...something caught my eye. I pick up a pepperoncini and investigate the strange black clump attached to it. It's a fly. A dead, pickled fly splayed out across the pepper like a tiny sacrificial offering.

At this point, it's starting to feel like a practical joke. I mean, really? REALLY? The waitress comes over and when we point out our new little friend I thought she was going to have a stroke right there. She got this wild-eyed look like she's thinking, how could this day suck more? OH, RIGHT. I QUUUUUUUUUUUUIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT.

She must really have needed that job because damned if she didn't go get the owner, an older Italian fellow, who sort of apologized by saying something along the lines of, "Well, we don't see them flying around back there!"

He promised to take the dish off our tab which is all I cared about at that point. I was so hungry I was willing to take my chances but I wasn't paying for dead fly food. Will we waited for our entrees we started looking around. I'm not sure what they spent a year renovating, but it was WRONG. The section we were in looked like a bad 80's fern bar:

and the dining room next to ours was 100% medieval Steak & Ale, Italian style:

There was another, darker, dining room behind that (the one we walked into from the other entrance) but it wasn't being used:

I ventured back there to use the restroom which was it's own hot nightmare. It was a small room with a long point tower thing that ended in a tiny, tiny skylight- the only source of light. An oubliette, if you will. (Hey! Show of hands: Who know's what an oubliette is because of the movie Labyrinth? Me too.) It was scary.

Later, Tasha went back and checked out the other bathroom across the hall, which not only had a scary tower skylight, but also had a serious black mold problem. Of course she took a photo:

I mean, damn. In the meantime, we were transfixed by the appearance of the restaurant hostess, who was wearing a really fabulous outfit. Her skirt was a denim mini and airbrushed across the ass was this message: "Boy Scouting." Kelly took a picture:

OKAY. The owner seemed very, very friendly with her.

Other decor included gigantic wine glasses:

We ate our dinner (eh), and then had our conversation interrupted by the waitress who nervously squeaked, "We have gelato!?" NO THANKS. We paid, we SCRAMMED. We got chased by the waitress who was having a mental breakdown because Kelly took the wrong copy of the credit card slip. We paused outside for a quick ridiculous photo and then ran for our lives.

(Voted best by WHO?)

Kelly drove drove drove drove home and got into Richmond around 11pm. Longest day ever.


  1. An Italian restaurant with no meatballs! NO!

  2. Wow you were in serious culinary hell.

  3. I googled images of fern bars and got this blog post. How very funny.