Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Other End of the Scale

I'm planning to do a complete post about the differences between traveling with children and traveling as empty nesters, but that post can be summed up in two words: Standard Diner.

Back in the day when we were traveling with the four Boys, Husband and I had strict guidelines we used in choosing eating places. Those guidelines were "Can we afford it?" and "If we spend all our money eating here, will we have enough gas to get home?" We were not destitute, but especially in the days when I was a full-time unsalaried domestic caregiver, we were...careful, shall we say?, about our restaurant choices. McDonald's was perfect not because of its cuisine but because we could get six junior hamburgers, two large fries (each split three ways), and six waters for eight dollars.

Now that we are blowing through our children's inheritance with no guilt about college savings plans, we have different guidelines. Top on the list of these guidelines is "Has this place been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives?" Albuquerque has three establishments that have been featured on this Food Channel tribute to low-class high cuisine.

Saturday night, after we had spent the day at the Gallup flea market and splurged on $3 tamales for lunch, we headed for the Standard Diner.

My friends, you can't imagine my relief that we did not try this place when we were feeding four male teenagers. First of all, they would have ridiculed the cucumber-spiked ice water, which was deliciously refreshing but which had Vegetables. Floating. In It.

Then they would have looked at the menu and decided they wanted meatloaf, and instead of finding out what $17 meatloaf looks like once, we would have gotten to see $17 meatloaf five times. And they would have loudly picked the golden raisins out of the meatloaf in a way that would have made diners at adjoining tables turn around to look at the country mice.

$17 meatloaf
Then they would have seen their mother order the special (grilled halibut on a golden polenta cake) because surely a little plate of FISH wouldn't cost $17, and they would have found out she was right. Because it cost $27.

$27 halibut. It's special.
They would have seen their parents order the special dessert, a maple apple roulade lovingly described by the wait staff in a way that made both salivate, and heard their mother hiss "It's a cinnamon roll!" when it arrived at the table. Because she's just that classy.

The food was very, very good. Yummy, in fact, except that the cinnamon roll roulade was a little dry. But I couldn't help remembering the days when McDonald's was gourmet, and the tab came to $8.

Guy Fieri obviously has an expense account.

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