I've found that the only can't-fail litmus test of a chowhound is whether or not s/he reads take-out menus for fun. I've never met a hound who didn't, or a non-hound who did. It's a laser-focused benchmark, a DNA test for chowhound identification.
The best takeout menu for leisure reading--the Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soup label of takeout menus--is the one for "The Pump", a "physical fitness" restaurant.
It has all the elements; zillions of quirky policy statements in small text, weird dishes nobody else does, over-arching "spin" attempts from an owner with a clear messianic complex, chatty asides, and enough mix-and-match ordering strategies and price plans to defy a Cray supercomputer. Hours of deeply enjoyable reading; a takeout menu I can return to again and again.
Plus, they serve the healthy sort of food I often find myself craving (see link below) and generally fantasize about making my exclusive diet (with frequent time outs for errant treats). So I pretend I'm going to run right out for a spirulina shake and grilled chicken breast baked with tahini served over spinach and brown rice or a lean turkey burger or baked egg white omelet with broccoli or a blueberry protein muffin, or some other apalling thing. And then I go and eat a torta or some soup dumplings.
Of course, in my fantasy, everything at The Pump tastes delightfully simple and healthful and brims with life-affirming energy. After years of reading The Pump's takeout menus (they're given out on sidewalks all over town...I bet thousands of others also pour over these things), I have one question:
Has anyone ever actually tried this place?
Break it to me gently, ok?
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