It’s a tired old trope and yet still remains a true one. When it comes to so many ventures, it’s all about location, location, location.
Which is the one thing my 5-year-old son’s recently opened restaurant has going for it. Situated conveniently right in the heart of my living room, this one-couch eatery specializes in unique dishes that are as creative as they are inedible.
Aptly, or perhaps ironically, named Restaurant, the place has what can only be described as a homey vibe with a shabby chic aesthetic, heavy on the shabby. On entry, you are greeted by a riot of colors and smells, none of which are food related. The cleanliness also left something to be desired for this particular reviewer but the other patron, an elderly canine named Buffy, didn’t seem to mind.
The owner and head chef (and host and server) Riker revealed to me that he had only recently taken an interest in the culinary arts. Prior to opening Restaurant, he had his sights set on becoming a ninja astronaut. Alas, the lack of experience and passion showed. The service alone was, to say the least, wanting.
“What do you want to drink?” he demanded soon after I sat down.
“How about a Diet Coke?”
“We don’t have Diet Coke.”
“You don’t have Diet Coke at this imaginary restaurant?”
“OK, what do you have?”
“Um…coffee or tea.”
“I’ll take coffee.”
“Actually, we don’t have coffee. Do you want tea?”
Deciding to try my luck instead with their wine list, I summoned the sommelier, who happened to be the owner’s younger sister. At only 3-years-old, she was on the younger side of wine experts and it quickly became evident she had only gotten the job because of family connections.
“Could you recommend a red, miss?”
“Can I have some?”
“Can I have pink wine then?”
The conversation quickly went off the rails from there. Resigning myself to the fact that I would just be thirsty throughout this entire meal, I was surprised, and somewhat wary, when the chef eventually presented me with a pink teacup that sang “Twinkle, Twinkle” incessantly.
“Here’s your coffee.”
“I thought you said you didn’t have coffee. Also, this is empty.”
“OK, it’s root beer.”
Restaurant’s signature dish is pizza. (Although entree options are subject to change with little to no warning). With no menu in sight, I decided that would likely be my best bet. Even bad pizza is still pizza. Or, at least, it had been up until now.
“I’d like to order a pizza, please,” I informed the chef.
“Oh yes, pizza. Pizza has sauce and cheese. And crust. And…um…do you want mushrooms on it?”
“Well, you have to have mushrooms on it.”
“Pretty sure that’s not how this works.”
The kitchen, a converted bedroom in the back of the house, came alive with the sounds of clanging toy pots and pans and what definitely better not be my expensive William Sonoma kitchen utensils stolen from a certain drawer. Luckily, I didn’t have time to ruminate on this long since my dish arrived quickly (under two minutes, in fact, by my count). On the down side, it resembled nothing even vaguely pizza-like. The crust looked like a slab of cardboard (mostly because it was cardboard). The sauce looked suspiciously like Play-Doh covered in dog hair but at least it was red. I was informed by the chef that the “cheese” on my pizza was definitely cheese and not a blank piece of paper. And yes, there were mushrooms as well. Plastic mushrooms. Plucked straight from the toy aisle years ago in the Kmart region of the Northeast.
“Here’s your pizza!” Chef Riker announced while delicately placing the dish down on my crissed-crossed lap.
“Take a bite!”
Wanting to retain a fragment of my professionalism, I did as I was told.
But the chef had already disappeared, pitter-pattering off to do more important chef stuff one can only assume. Or perhaps to scold the improper behavior of his sommelier, who was at this point crawling around on the floor meowing and yelling “Momma! Look! I’m a kitty cat!”
Unsure what to do next, I sat there uncomfortably while my fellow patron at Restaurant started barking and making quite the ruckus. Likely because his pizza didn’t turn out as he expected either.
To my relief, Riker soon returned with a towering stack of Legos.
“I forgot your dessert.” he apologized. “Here you go. It’s ice cream!”
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the ice cream was as unpalatable as everything else had been.
“So, what do you think of my restaurant?” Riker asked, standing there with hope in his eyes and a stolen whisk in his hand.
“Best meal I ever had, chef.”