The uncritical critic

Peter
Peter Jackson
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With apologies to Karl Wells

Yesterday at noon, I was feeling a little peckish (having only had a pocketed Communion wafer to nibble on) when I spied a little establishment that had so far flown under my radar.

Dave's Grub Stop and Gas Bar looked like the ideal place to test out a new directive from my editor to refrain from being critical in my restaurant reviews.

Yesterday at noon, I was feeling a little peckish (having only had a pocketed Communion wafer to nibble on) when I spied a little establishment that had so far flown under my radar.

Dave's Grub Stop and Gas Bar looked like the ideal place to test out a new directive from my editor to refrain from being critical in my restaurant reviews.

Adorned with an attractive fluorescent sign, nestled between the gas pumps and a tall propane tank, Dave's appealed to me right from the start. "We cook food here," the charming exterior seemed to be telling me. Dodging a couple of harried gas bar customers, I ducked inside the front door.

The decor grabbed my attention immediately. Red padded vinyl, tastefully worn and tattered for effect, reminded me of a display I once saw at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) that captured the essence of Early American Truckstop. Dave's furnishings were a faithful tribute, right down to the cigarette burns in the utility carpet.

"Table for one," I said to the waitress as she approached from within. "Seat yourself," she said helpfully as she drifted past me on her way to what was clearly a much more important task.

I took a seat near the window in time to see a large truck lumber by outside, leaving a trail of dust and diesel smoke. Classic ambiance, I thought. I picked up the menu and scanned the offerings. Within a mere 45 minutes, my helpful waitress had taken my order and delivered my requested appetizer: soup of the day. The soup was a delectable gem called Turkey Vegetable. It was a hearty broth with plenty of salt. The vegetables were well cooked, without a hint of resistance. As an added bonus, an actual morsel of turkey awaited me at the bottom of the bowl. Ah, they're pampering the critic, I thought with a grin.

After a minor kerfuffle at the next table - efficiently handled with the assistance of two uniformed police officers - I settled in for my main course: Dave's Fried Chicken with Home Fries and Mixed Vegetables.

The coating on Dave's chicken is quite impressive. I asked the waitress how the chef achieved that blackened salmon effect. She said the secret was to use a special coating of salt and flour and then immerse the chicken in cooking oil that was no less than three months old. It's then fried for two hours and left to stand overnight.

It was quite the joy (and challenge!) to separate the perfectly dried meat from the bone with my molars. I'll certainly relish those few moments with a toothpick after this, I thought.

The home fries were moist and deliciously pasty, and the vegetables were of the same gum-friendly character as those in the soup.

A fabulous entrée all around.

For dessert I had planned to have the Homemade Apple Pie, but was informed the delivery truck was late that day. Instead. I opted for a satisfying cup of lukewarm coffee, topped off by a shot of Johnny Walker laced with Pepto-Bismol (a specialty of the house).

I paid my modest bill and was about to leave the premises when Dave himself appeared in the doorway.

"What a wonderful establishment you have here, my friend," I said as I shook his grease-stained hand.

"Youse in the wrong neighbourhood, bud," he replied.

"And a wonderful day to you, too," I said as I squeezed between Dave and the door jamb.

Dave's Grub Stop and Gas Bar gets 9.5 points out of 10. I eliminated half a point only because the gum I found stuck to my seat was not my favourite flavour.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's editorial page editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Museum of Modern Art, The Telegram

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Martin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    45 seconds I'll never get back
    Thanks

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Reminds me of the story of the guy who went to his doctor & told him he was going out of his mind because his wife was taking off every nite for Charlie's Bar. He said she was picking up everything and everyone, it was driving him nuts!!! The doctor told him to sit down, take a deep breath and relax. Then he said Where exactly is Charlie's Bar?
    Question. Where exactly is Dave's Grub Shop and Gas Bar?

  • william
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    williams has trained you good

  • Peter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Bob:
    Dave's Grub Stop and Gas Bar is everywhere and nowhere.
    (Sigh,)

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Reminds me of the story of the guy who went to his doctor & told him he was going out of his mind because his wife was taking off every nite for Charlie's Bar. He said she was picking up everything and everyone, it was driving him nuts!!! The doctor told him to sit down, take a deep breath and relax. Then he said Where exactly is Charlie's Bar?
    Question. Where exactly is Dave's Grub Shop and Gas Bar?

  • Martin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    45 seconds I'll never get back
    Thanks

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Reminds me of the story of the guy who went to his doctor & told him he was going out of his mind because his wife was taking off every nite for Charlie's Bar. He said she was picking up everything and everyone, it was driving him nuts!!! The doctor told him to sit down, take a deep breath and relax. Then he said Where exactly is Charlie's Bar?
    Question. Where exactly is Dave's Grub Shop and Gas Bar?

  • william
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    williams has trained you good

  • Peter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Bob:
    Dave's Grub Stop and Gas Bar is everywhere and nowhere.
    (Sigh,)

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Reminds me of the story of the guy who went to his doctor & told him he was going out of his mind because his wife was taking off every nite for Charlie's Bar. He said she was picking up everything and everyone, it was driving him nuts!!! The doctor told him to sit down, take a deep breath and relax. Then he said Where exactly is Charlie's Bar?
    Question. Where exactly is Dave's Grub Shop and Gas Bar?