Let me tell you the tell of dinner. It was at the Smokehouse Grill here in Berea, KY. We had eaten there once before, Cosmic and I, and it was entirely mediocre. On a whim, I said, "Let us eat there again and get some things which should be more 'normal' for their menu than the my Philly cheesesteak sandwich I partook of last time."
And so we entered, and a slightly addled older woman seated us. I later overheard her saying to another customer, "I still don't have my table numbers down." This was the hostess.
We ordered dinner, it was easy. For myself, I ordered a sirloin, well done because I don't trust random restaurants not to give me salmonella if I don't. For sides, I ordered the 'broccoli casserole' and the 'rice pilaf.' Cosmic also had a sirloin, well done because she doesn't want to get horrible food poisoning from a dodgy kitchen, with a salad and 'loaded' baked potato.
We were, in the mean time, served an excellent Pepsi and some flavorless bread products (ostensibly dinner rolls) with some meager spreadable butter. Our waitress had forgotten to take our menus with her, though we had handed them directly into her hands. The salad was brought forth, and perched atop it were many croutons and gigantic pieces of onion. Cosmic said "Huh, the croutons have been soaked in something, maybe olive oil." Believing perchance I had found a new delicacy for my salads I tasted one and discovered that in fact it was not olive oil, it was old fry oil, for the croutons had been deep fried in it and then left to sit out and cool. There was french fry, okra, and other assorted flavors in the croutons. (This could become an avant garde technique to season croutons if it isn't already. If it becomes so, let the world know that it began here at the Smokehouse grill and nowhere else.)
Later, our menus were removed and food appeared before us. My steak was well past being merely well done. It was somewhere between overcooked cardboard and leather. Cosmic's steak was medium well, closer to medium, with a strange greasy outer coating. They had both been cooked upon a grill, probably with some of the gigantic stack of firewood behind the restaurant providing the heat. Mine was simply abandoned to the cruel fates of the grill, while Cosmic's must have found its way upon the griddle or a skillet filled with greasy remnants of other meals. Needless to say, these steaks were not very good in either case.
The side dishes fared little better, for Cosmic's 'loaded' baked potato was loaded only in the sense that it cost me 99 cents more than a different side. It was overcooked, had a few paltry crumbs of bacon upon it, and a smidge of cheese. There was no butter or sour cream to be found: she was forced by desperation to use the rest of the meager butter from the dinner rolls to try to salvage a decent potato from the ruin. Her attempt, I note, failed utterly. It was beyond salvation.
My sides were somehow even worse. The broccoli casserole may have been cooked in a casserole pan, but there was nothing else to indicate that this was not boiled bits of broccoli stems (I counted two tips in the dish and was afraid to look in the green-- I get ahead of myself I apologize). The broccoli stem chunks were served in a greenish snot-based liquid and entirely unseasoned. There was a garnish of bacon which I refused to touch, for it was several times more bacon than her potato had.
My rice pilaf was at least made of rice. I can only hope that the yellow color of the rice came from saffron in tap water, as it was cooked too long and had a flavor that I can only describe as "Hitler in a dish." If my hopes are vain, then I pray only that it was boiled and I will not be dying from whatever other fluid was used to create the abomination.
We soon quietly paid the check and exited, but not before bringing the picture linked via thumbnail at the top of the post home with us. Behold the glory of broccoli casserole and rice pilaf.
In conclusion, the best part of the meal was the Pepsi and the cleansing hand wipe Cosmic had in her purse. I feel bad for the truckers, travelers, old people from the nursing home next door, and in general anyone else who is either too addled to know better or completely unfamiliar with this restaurant. To anyone who eats there willingly more than once, I don't understand why you would. I will go to my grave regretting this dinner decision, and I hope that Cosmic will someday forgive me for the travesty done to her gentle palette on this ruinous day.