Friday, May 26, 2006
I went down to Polk St. today to buy more hay for the guinea pigs at the local pet supply, and on the way home got so overcome with hunger, that rather than just getting a coffee as planned I wandered into
, on Polk and Sacramento. Earlier this week I'd noticed thier ultra cool signage that I hope never gets scrapped. It's so 50's coffee shop-py and reminds me of Alphie's which was a coffee shop attached to the Alpha Beta, Supermarket of my youth in Alhambra. Bob's that night seemed to have a ton of people eating dinner there and I thought, maybe they have gotten better at food since they spruced the place up and got new booths.
So today I wandered on in, greeted by the "Seat yourself" sign, this seems to be the only restaruant on Polk street where a friendly local doesn't greet you with a big smile and hello, and offer of something hot and warm. I went for a big booth by the window. A surly unsmiling waitress noticed I was alone and directed me to a small one man booth. I sat at the dirty table and she brought me a sticky new menu with a frown. My heart sank. The prices were premium breakfast prices. There's no way this is going to be good enough to justify 6.95 for a plate, I thought with growing uneasyness.
As the remainder of my experience there played out, I realized that nothing has changed at Bob's, it is still, as my boyfriend calls it, "The Punishment Cafe". His theory goes, that you only go to Bob's when you really really hate yourself, and feel the need for punishment. Deeply self loathing people who are depressed go there for "the treatment" this family run place dishes out. Following this theory, I must be really feeling guilty about falling behind with my painting schedule.
The other gal came around and noticed the dirty table hadn't been set, so she swiped a dank dingy rag across it, and plunked down some tableware on a napkin. They brought coffee, which was as I expected, coffee shop coffee, and to their credit, brought cream with it. I asked for a glass of water. When she came back to get my order without the water I asked her to wipe the table again, as it had some sticky globs still on it right in front of me that my newspaper stuck to. She wiped again, but didn't get it, I pointed to it and said, "See there, could you?" she wiped a little harder. Still not really clean but she'd given up. No fresh towel, no drying it off. I put my paper away.
I had ordered eggs florentine, my usual. It came. Still no glass of water. I took a bite. Now I've had eggs florentine all over San Francisco, and some is eh and some are good, and some are lemony and some are not. This one had a thick slice of raw tomato on it under the spinach. Huh. I tried it agian, sorta lemony, the tomato added nothing but tough sourness. I tried the thick cut "breakfast" potatos. They were raw inside, lightly fried on the outside, chunky, chalky, completly unseasoned or salted, and inedible. It was all I could do to chew and swallow.
I went back to the egg dish which was hot. I flagged the waitress, "can I get a glass of water?" Without a word or a smile she turned to go get it, but before she went she was distracted by a regular asking something about her husband. I knew this was all it would take to make my glass of water leave her mind forever. I was right.
One more bite of the lemony, sour, thick hard mealy tomatoy mush of eggs florentine and I'd had enough. I pushed the plate away. I'd had three bites. Total breakfast rejection. Sad.
The woman came by in a minute and the first sign of any attention or interest crossed her face. "Something wrong?" I just said, "Yes, this really isn't good, I don't want to eat it."
She took the plate. "Anything else?"
"No, just bring the check."
So she brought it. No attempt to remedy the meal, no refund for uneaten food, no aplogies. The bill read $8.90 and after she walked away I knew there would be no more coffee refills.
So I sat in their precious booth space long enough to write this entry. I would have used the bathroom too to try to get $8.90 worth of rental out of this greasy spoon in rental space.
I took a cell phone call from my boyfriend. "You'll never guess where I am."
"The punishment cafe."
"Oh, Bob's diner?"
"What did you do wrong?"
"I'm behind on getting my paintings done for the show. Way behind."
"Oh babe, I'm sorry," he said chuckling, "I'm so sorry".
"Yes, so am I".