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Snooth User: EMark

Restaurant Wine List of the First Kind

Posted by EMark, Jan 19, 2012.


  • The intent of this posting is humorous.  If you are looking for a deadly serious discussion of wines or restauarant wine lists, then you might want to ignore this one.
  • This story is absolutely true.

About 10 years ago I was attending some informal company training in Lincoln, NE.  Two other colleagues were also in attendance--one from Pueblo, CO and one from Atlanta, GA.  The training consisted of conversations around a conference room table.  Various company associates from the Lincoln facility came in and provided information on topics in which they had particular expertise.

The Lincoln folks were very cordial and helpful in providing dinner ideas for the three of us vistors in the evenings.  They sent us to a very nice Italian spot on the first night and a steak place on the second night.  For the third night there would be a special "field trip."  Early in the conversation of dinner places, there was the normal questioning about "What kind of food do you like?"  The three of us are OK with beef and that was where the steak place recommendation originated.  Agreement that we liked beef led to a suggestion from one of the natives that "They should go to the Pink Poodle."  Which quickly led to "We should take them to the Pink Poodle."

So, on night three we went to the Pink Poodle.  Only two of us students made it that night.  An unfortunate bout with food poisoning discouraged our Pueblo partner.  ("An unfortunate bout with food poisoning?"  Believe me, I know there is no such thing as a fortunate bout with food poisoning.)  We are pretty sure we knew what caused the problem--chicken salad for lunch the previous day.   In addition to my Atlanta partner student, five locals joined us on the trip to the Pink Poodle.

It turns out that from Lincoln, you have to cross a state line to get to the Pink Poodle.  It is in Iowa maybe fifteen or twenty minutes past Omaha.  It was mid-summer, and, so, we were driving through tall green cornfields.  Then, there is a little clearing in the cornfields, a dirt parking lot and a building that for all the world looks like a roadhouse that is painted pink.

Inside, the Pink Poodle is, for my tastes, quite rustic.  People are sitting around picnic tables, there are peanut shells, or hay or someting on the floor.

We ask the hostess for a table for seven.  She tells us that it will take them some time to get a table ready for us.  So, she suggests that we wait in the bar. 

OK, we make our way to the bar, and barely get seated, when, there she is, the hostess.  Our table is ready.  So we move over to a picnic table in the dining room.

Seate at our table while waiting for the waitress we have time to review the menu.  We know we are going to have beef--in fact, we had been prompted beforehand that when you go to the Pink Poodle, you want to have prime rib.  That is sounding good to me, but I cannot find any indication from the menu or from any of the talker tents on the table that the Pink Poodle serves wine.  Who's kidding who?  This is a beer place.  Oh well, I guess I won't have wine.

The waitress (bubbly college type) arrives to take drink orders, and one of our party asks about wine.

"Oh, you want wine," she gushes.  "Let me get you a wine list."

A wine list?  I'm thinking that this is turning out much better than I thought.

It did take her about five minutes, but she came back.  In her had was a white sheet of paper.  The type that looks like it was ripped out of a pad.

"OK,"  she says.  "Tonight, we have . . ."  She reads aloud,

[Here, I would like to have a drum roll, but I don't know how to add audio effects.  So, please insert your own silent pause like on Pawn Stars when the expert tells RIck what the precious artifact or not-so-precious piece of junk is worth.]

". . . red, white and rose."

I almost fell off my picnic bench seat.  This is great.  What more would you expect at a place like this?  But, just to make sure she did not mess up, our waitress read it right from the official wine list.

I think that tonight we'll go with the red.  So, a couple of carafes appear.

OK, the wine list thing was the funny part.  Let me tell you some other stuff.

The tents on the table touted a "Prime Rib Dinner"--sixteen ounces of prime rib and a baked potato for $16.95.  (Even 10 years ago that was a pretty good price.)  So, coached by my local colleagues, that is what I ordered. 

Let me tell you it was absolutely the best prime rib of beef I have ever had.  There is a fairly well-known restaurant here in Los Angeles that has a reputation (since the late 30s) for prime rib.  It is excellent, and the Pink Poodle is a match for it.

I like horseradish sauce with my prime rib.  Horseradish was brought to our table, and I was warned to be careful with it.  I was prudent and tasted first, before going overboard with it.

The horseradish at the Pink Poodle is THERMONUCLEAR.  I don't know if they pulled it out of the ground add prepared it that afternoon, but it is potent.

I hope this story caused you to chuckle.



Reply by dmcker, Jan 19, 2012.

Good story, Mark. I've had lots of good meat in and around Omaha, whether steaks or roasts or BBQ, sometimes from holes in the wall (or corn). How did the wine taste, anyway?  ;-)

And Lawry's isn't all that, anyway. My grandmother up in Ventura ran circles around them, even in their prime (pun intended) back in the day, whether it was the Prime Rib, or the fixins from Yorkshire pudding and other sides to the horseradish sauce. Their branch in Tokyo would rank about 10th, and I can't even think past 12 that serve the dish, since this isn't a good country for it (though definitely fine for steaks)....

Reply by Chris Carpita, Jan 20, 2012.

Haha, great story!   I would have to order the red too, after her presentation

Reply by EMark, Jan 20, 2012.

Dm, That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.  So, I guess, the wine, which I really don't remember at all (other than the color and the fact that it was served in a carafe), made me stronger.  The night was dedicated to having fun with friends and colleagues.

I would be happy to check out your grandmother's offering.  Sounds wonderful.  I have to say, though, that Lawry's has an appeal for me that transcends the menu.  I do like their prime rib.  Although, I have to say quite honestly that I have not had prime rib in too many places.  (And the only Prime Rib that I've had that competes was at the Pink Poodle.)  It's probably been over fifty years since prime rib was an important restaurant menu trend. 

  • I love the 1930s moderne serving carts with the toque-wearing "chef's" slicing my cut at the table.
  • I love the spinning salad preparation at the table.
  • I love the introduction of the waitress as "Miss Jones."
  • I even love the 1930s-style hat that Miss Jones is wearing.
  • I love the fact that Miss Jones has probably worked there for 15 years.
Reply by MReff, Jan 20, 2012.

I would have asked if they accept corkage and what the fee would  have been.



Reply by dmcker, Jan 20, 2012.

Mark, I probably had more prime rib up to my mid teens than I've had since. It was the apogee of a certain type of eating at that time. California cuisine was long into the future, and sushi or Thai or... weren't even an inkling of a dream. Chinese was fast and cheap and full of food coloring. Christmas and even Thanksgiving at that grandmother's house were always prime rib. Plenty of English in her background, which apparently outshone the Scots and Italian. Teetotaller househould that never worried about wine matches, though when I revisited after going away to college, and then farflung parts of the world, I'd always bring good wine to dinner, almost entirely some new Californian find. My grandfather was happy, though my grandmother would try to rein him in. Their younger daughter had married a FrenchSwiss and moved to Geneva so when they hosted that branch of the family on returns they'd try to figure a wine which apparently always ended up being Mateus rose. I was there for one of those, which was more than enough, so then tookover whenever I was around, and even left a case or two in their closet for such uses when I wasn't. Unfortunately, though I'd love to check out her offerings again, too, that's not been possible for many years now.

I think, though, thanks to the chain of thoughts you've started here, Mark, I'll try to chase down a place in town that does prime rib well, and take my younger daughter there for her upcoming birthday dinner. If I can't be sure of other alternatives, we may even end up at the Lawry's branch--although if I give her the choice I'm sure my daughter would choose my Tuscan friend Mario's joint. Just watched Clooney's vehicle 'Descendants', so am thinking of family tradition, I guess.  ;-)

And MIke, considering the circumstances out in that cornfield, I'd probably ask for a good bourbon, with a beer back....

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