Monday, May 2, 2011
dangerous liasons: lunch at Ellam's
At risk of life and limb I have indeed ventured to Ellam's to seek out the gastronomic 'delights' that are experienced by few!
These are the perils of an individual on the quest for truth about the Stratford food scene but let me tell you, don't follow in my footsteps. I will refrain from describing the aftermath and stick to the experience itself.
At the prompting of the rather pleasant, but english-challenged wife of 'Ellam' (let's call him this for fun, I believe his name is actually Peter), I seat myself. A menu is placed in front of me - THE ORIGINAL - from a time period straight out of Leave It To Beaver. The vintage pricing has been whited-out and/or pasted over with ever increasing amounts, decades of inflation pass before my eyes like a series of long-forgotten faded love-letters. Perhaps I'll have the Salmon $1.85 or start with a glass of orange juice $0.30 maybe I'll splurge and get a milk-shake $0.75 - if only I had an extra straw and someone to share it with!
I order coffee; that's safe right? But deny the cream which is pungent. The dark haired old woman approaches to take my order, she props herself against the table - seemingly to keep her standing upright.
I order the 'Ellam's special'
"NO, no, no," she replies.
Perhaps the 'Jelly Omelette'
"NO, no, no," she replies.
"NO, no, no, you have, um," scanning the menu for something she feels is safe/available she finally points at the: "chicken club with fries" she says, "you'll have that."
How can I argue?
Ellam shuffles around behind the open kitchen, wanders to the chest freezer, props it open with his head and begins to rummage.
Bacteria is killed through freezing right? I wont die!?!
Time passes, though not quite enough for the fryer to reach an appropriate temperature so the fries come out golden-soggy-brown, completely saturated with oil that I know is not trans-fat free. The club is somewhat edible (thankfully there is no mayo), until I crunch down on a rather large chicken bone and get to the fatty parts. I try the ketchup, surprisingly not fermented at all, and choke down a few oil-laden fries.
A trip to the bathroom reveals a health-code nightmare, I can't bear to walk beyond the threshold. The incandescent lights illuminate a golden-yellow hue covering the floor, I assure myself, "it's just fryer oil". Glancing at the sink I see I'm not alone, though my friends have more legs than I do.
I head to the register, tip generously and glance at Ellam again with the freezer door propped on his head. Perhaps he is remembering his mobster days, heck, maybe that freezer has seen more corpses than tater tots, and maybe that's the way it should be!