Rare Pork Chops
In 1958 I was working for TransCanadaPipeLines in Saskatchewan. I occasionally travelled with a grizzled, veteran Texas pipeliner by the name of Bill Flippin. (Bill’s son, Bobby, had earlier played in the CFL with Edmonton and Hamilton). One day we stopped for lunch in Dauphin, Manitoba. Bill ordered pork chops, which, when the waitress served them, were still almost raw. Bill, in his wonderful Texas accent, drawled, “Honeybunch, I’ve seen pigs hurt worse than that and get better. Give me a pair of pliers and some baling wire and I’ll fix this critter up.”
An Unusual Steak Order
A couple of weeks later I was back in Dauphin, this time on my own, and called into the same restaurant for lunch. Remembering Bill’s pork chop experience, when I ordered a steak I told the waitress I wanted it “cremated.” As she swept through the swinging doors to the kitchen I heard her bellow, “There’s a guy out there that wants a steak with cream and eggs on it!”
Some time in the mid-70s I was in Calgary on business and decided to have dinner at the Calgary Tower’s fine dining room. Because it was during the winter I was surprised, but delighted, to see lobster and surf ’n turf on the menu. I happily ordered lobster. But when the plate was set in front of me I noticed that the lobster had only one claw. I pointed this out to the waitress who said, “Lobsters only have one claw, sir.” I said, “Miss, perhaps you can get away with telling people from Alberta that lobsters have only one claw, but I’m from PEI, and I guarantee you lobsters have two claws.” She told me she’d never seen a lobster with two claws. I told her the only time I’d ever seen a lobster with one claw was when it was half eaten. The maitre‘d, realizing that something was awry, came over and asked me what the problem was. I told him. He asked if I wanted the other claw. I assured him I did. It seems that when a customer ordered lobster, after it was cooked the chef would remove one claw and freeze it to use later in their surf ’n turf.
Western Canada Again
I’m not sure why I’ve had so many unusual restaurant experiences in western Canada, but here’s another one. Anne and I were in Winnipeg to attend her brother Dennis’ wedding. We were staying at the Northstar Inn on Portage Avenue. (I believe the Northstar is now a Radisson hotel.) At that time the Northstar, which was owned by Famous Players but managed by CP, was Winnipeg’s finest hotel, and as it featured its dining room in most of its ads, my experience was completely unexpected. It was Sunday morning, and I ordered orange juice, bacon and eggs (over medium), home fries, brown toast and coffee. When the food arrived the eggs were sunny side up. I said to the waitress, “I’m sorry, but I ordered my eggs over.” “Oh, that’s no problem at all, sir,” she said as she picked up my fork and turned over the eggs.
Another Steak Story
This one didn’t happen to me; I just wish it had. My friend, Jacques Simard, a CBC television producer, was in St. John’s, Newfoundland, taping a show. He was staying at the famous Battery Hotel on Signal Hill. The Battery (which now houses Memorial University residences and offices) has one of the world’s great views and, at the time, had the finest dining room in St. John’s, which, again, renders this experience rather unexpected. Jacques, as did I on my second visit to the restaurant in Dauphin, ordered a steak. When the waitress arrived with it on a steak board, Jacques noticed that she had her thumb on it and asked, “Why do you have your thumb on my steak?” She said, “So it doesn’t fall off again.” Jacques was so impressed with her honesty that he accepted the meal without another word. Knowing Jacques, he probably also increased her tip.
An Unusual Solution
This one happened at a motel restaurant in Dryden, Ontario. On our honeymoon, Anne and I drove out to the west coast through the northern United States and back through Canada, which is how we happened to be in Dryden. In addition to serving the motel guests, the restaurant was also a very popular truck stop. It was so busy while we were having our breakfast that I didn’t have a chance to tell the waitress she hadn’t brought me my orange juice. When I looked at our check, though, I saw that I had been charged for it. Before paying the bill I pointed out to the cashier that I hadn’t gotten my orange juice. “I’m so sorry, sir,” she said, and then hurried away before I had a chance to say that I simply wanted the charge removed from the bill. You guessed it. She returned about two minutes later with a large glass of orange juice.