SECOND POST for December 8, 2011
Standing proudly on a recently asphalted parking lot, this culinary powerhouse cannot be dismissed as so much cow fodder. It is the number one restaurant in Michigan.
One of the fun things to do at Old Country Buffet is guessing what you’re eating.
Typical boys at Old Country Buffet drinking and eating their way into a life of monumental obesity in the warm light of parental approbation.
EATERY NUMBER TWO IN DETROIT: THE TELWAY
My friend Ziad thinks the world of this establishment. We have reprinted herein the entire text of a review he prepared for GQ magazine which refused publication citing “standards of good taste and societal mores”.
LOCATION: On the north side of Michigan Avenue between Wyoming and Central, only three clicks (or thereabouts) from Wyoming. Very convenient unless, of course, you chafe at the endless supply of street arabs, homeless winos and derelicts who haunt every crack of the pavement surrounding the establishment. If you want to visit Calcutta without taking an airplane, this is an acceptable method.
PARKING: There is an awkwardly designed parking lot for the strong of heart with sufficient parking.
It appears that most of the customers are denizens of the plentiful abandoned homes and gutted tenements which give the area the appearance of having been recently carpet-bombed by RAF Air Marshall Arthur “Butcher” Harris. If you would like to visit Dresden without all the complexities of time travel, this is an acceptable method also.
AMBIENCE: It is white tile and would resemble the Taj Mahal if it were not just a hardscrabble hamburger emporium. Sitting inside reminds of those happy days in the Fifties when your dad would treat you to a hot slider, fries and bowl of chili for a total cost of .45 cents. It is to travel in time unaccompanied by Rod Serling’s narration or his signature theme song. In point of fact, time stops and stands still until you realize you have taken a seat in a place where the hunched man next to you at the counter is probably wanted for murder and cannibalism. Still, it is to travel back, way back, to another era without having to deal with the speed of light.
STAFF: Totally female. The owner, a matronly brunette with a look that bespeaks decades of putting up with a raft of human refuse on a daily basis, is polite enough. The other girls who help her to prepare the food and serve it seem to be genetically predisposed to this kind of life as though they were the offspring of charwomen or coney island vendors in the Bronx. They are friendly enough but refer to everyone as “honey” which is exasperating since the clientele is anything but “sweet”. They are condemnable, brain-dead alkies and drug addicts who reek with a foulness only found after laying down with a corpse in a charnel house. The staff is fine:
PROPRIETRESS: As stated herein-above, she is fine. Because she says “honey” to everyone, I have demoted her from a 9 to a 7.
GENEROSITY: You can get stuffed on $4.50 at this place.
FOOD: The portions can only be understood in the context of a Brays Restaurant or a White Castle. The hamburgers seem to have been rubbed with some generic meat to intimate the flavour of beef. The beef is uniformly cooked with onions and crowned with dill pickles. It is then placed between a sweet bun without catsup or mustard. The fries are hot and retain their crispiness for at least five minutes.
The other foods are fine. In truth, they have the best hamburgers in town. Their coffee is renowned throughout the land as one those incongruous details in a Dashiell Hammett novel. They have a Hillbilly Chile which I plan to try today. I will, to be sure, apprise you of my impressions, stern, cold and rigid as they are.
I was concerned, however, about the curious absence of children at the Telway. As I looked about I could espy no child, cat or dog. I looked about the surrounding area to, perhaps, detect a chinese or korean restaurant. No. None that I could see. Hmmm.
Presentation is not a big factor in the marketing strategy of the Telway eatery. Don’t be fooled by that “slovenly” look. It’s really good.
CLIENTELE: Enough said about that rabble. They make the marchers on the First Crusade seem like redolent, pampered poodles.
A gracious client at the Telway ordering a “cup o’ java” and a bowl of Hillbilly Chili.
HYGIENE: I did not dare to enter their men’s room, or their ladies’ room for that matter. I did not feel ill after eating their hamburgers and fries or drinking their lemonade. A warning to the weak, however: I am usually generously plied with antibiotic alcohol which makes me immune to most diseases which are food- borne or otherwise. The place is taken care of adequately:
OVERALL OVERARCHING IMPRESSION: This is a gem of a place despite the malodorous location and virulent customers. It is packed with people which is a good sign. I do not recommend taking your wife to dinner there for your 25th wedding anniversary or frequenting it after sundown. It is worth visiting.