You’re not a foodie or anything, you just happen to enjoy leaving the house every once in a blue moon for a good cocktail and a nice piece of fish that actually tastes like fish and does not involve capers in any way. But you hate to drive into the city, because you’re a lazy piece of shit.
Unfortunately, you also dislike dining out in your crappy town or mediocre suburb, possibly because you seem to expect to exchange a giant pile of cash for an enjoyable dining experience. It’s not that you’re particularly classy and discerning, you’re just prone to severe bouts of existential despair brought on by half-frozen chicken strips.
So what’s a moody, judgmental, lazy piece of shit to do?
Lower your standards, of course, using my simple, one-to-five star Chumpy Town Restaurant Rating System!
The cocktails did not involve crushed ice in any way. No gratuitous overuse of capers. No children were seated nearby, watching SpongeBob loudly without headphones. Zero large-screen TVs present. No one came by and asked, “How is everything tasting?” Didn’t feel like murdering anyone, not even once. “Just fine” dining at its almost, sort of, not quite best!
Crushed ice in the cocktails, but no Fresca involved at all. Server asked how everything was tasting, but didn’t recommend the Ahi tuna by exclaiming, “It doesn’t taste anything like canned tuna!” Zero $35 overcooked steaks on the menu. Children seated nearby watching screens, but they had headphones on. One TV screen behind the bar, but the sound was off. Check was only 2 times more exorbitant than it should’ve been. Mild crestfallen feelings but zero rage.
Fresca with a splash of gin on crushed ice is fine, as long as you steal all of the lemons from the water glasses and squeeze them into your drink. Bonus: The water had lemon slices in it! Probably because it was unfiltered tap water, but still. $35 overcooked steak tasted like char from the grill, but the mashed potatoes weren’t powdered. Two massive TV screens behind the bar, but zero ordering screens built into the tables. Brief wave of anger over the exorbitant check, but it dissolved into a hazier, more general state of dissatisfaction pretty quickly, thanks to all that gin.
Bud Light is actually pretty good when you mix it with Fresca and a few splashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire. Be sure to ask for ice for your “Michelada,” but don’t bother requesting a lime wedge, there hasn’t been a fresh piece of produce in this joint since server Marjorie Watkins brought an apple in her purse so she wouldn’t have to eat the food here again. Hot tip: Get a V8 from the Circle K next door and throw that in there, too! And grab some beef jerky while you’re there, you’re going to be hungry on the drive home. Four massive-screen televisions on the walls, but only one was playing Jerry Springer. Screens on tables flashing ads, but some were broken. Lots of rage mixed with sadness, but thankfully no one got hurt.
This is not a restaurant so much as a large daycare center full of massive TVs, all tuned to different channels and turned up full blast. Everyone present seemed either depressed or very drunk, even though there was zero Fresca and zero A1 steak sauce to mix into your lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon. Was that a waiter or a drunk stranger that kept interrupting to point at things on your table? “Garlic bread” turned out to be stale hamburger buns. Pizzas congealed upon arrival. Murdered someone. Now wanted in three states, but haven’t made the FBI Most Wanted List yet.
Once you apply the Chumpy Town Restaurant Rating System to the various eating establishments in your own personal dining desert, you’ll recognize that when you actively choose a 2-star restaurant, you aren’t hoping that “maybe it’s gotten better lately.” You’re looking to splash Worcestershire into your Bud Light. That’s the experience you’re craving. You want to eat a half-cooked hamburger while watching two baseball games at the same time.
Choose a 1-star restaurant? That’s a homicidal mood you’re in. Don’t take that show on the road and then blame it on a warehouse full of drunk teenagers eating congealed cheese while watching “Dancing with the Stars.”
Know Thine Chumpy Town, Know Thyself!
Remember when you had zero standards and zero discernment? Man, it was so much easier to make boring friends and eat at terrible restaurants back then! Too bad you can’t lobotomize yourself in the comfort of your own home. Write to askmolly at protonmail.com, it’s the next best thing.