Hi. I'm Jeff. I've known Ray Speen since we were both correspondents back in WWII, being plagiarized by that hack Hemingway. I still eat lunch sometimes, so Ray invited me to sling some hash here on his lunch counter blog. So I thought I'd start with this place that I get lunch from sometimes when I'm at my job in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, where I now work as a corporate cryptanalyst.
The official name of this place is "The Crow's Nest," but actually, I usually refer to it as 'the hole in the wall,' because, really, that's exactly what it is. A hole in the wall.
Specifically, there is a little convenience store on the main floor of this great old building downtown that's made of old white ceramic tiles called the Standard Building, that is home to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, which I would give my eye teeth to be a member of, just because that sounds so cool. And in the back of this convenience store, there is a little hole in the wall, about one foot wide by about two feet tall. Behind this hole is the kitchen for a restaurant that's on the other side of the building where they actually have tables and a bar; for carry-out service, though, they opened up this HOLE.
To get your food, you walk up to the hole, wait for someone to walk by it and acknowledge you, and quickly tell them what you want before they lose interest and wander away. If you're smart, like me, you'll soon learn to order the exact same thing every time you go there, so that when they see you walking up, all the kitchen workers have to do is make eye contact, nod their head slightly to confirm that you want 'the usual', which they then shout out to the grill cooks while writing up your order on the styrofoam take-out box. A model of efficiency.
All of this would be simply quaint and taken for granted were such a thing not the rarity it is downtown these days. But the best part is, the food that comes through that hole in the wall is actually pretty good - and very reasonably priced as well.
Their menu is pretty extensive, actually, too, with plenty of choices, and lots of daily specials. Just about anything you want they could put together for you. They also have a pretty good number of vegetarian-friendly items on the menu, which is great for me, because, hey, I'm a vegetarian. What's it to ya? OK. Anyway, they have a big variety of hamburger variations, all of which they are happy to make with a gardenburger patty, and, I'm told, they do it pretty well too. I've never actually had one there though, because I found that they make probably the best grilled swiss on rye you're likely to find downtown - complete with fries and a big quarter pickle slice. It'll keep you tied over 'til well past dinnertime.
The atmosphere of the convenience store is kind of interesting too, and you imagine it hasn't changed much at all in probably at least 30 years. In fact about the only thing I ever see there that forces me to realize I'm standing there in 2007 is a clip-board hanging up next to the cashier which holds print-outs of email-forwarded internet jokes, which they change every few weeks or so..
Am I supposed to rate this place? If so, I'll give it 4 mustard packets out of 4. Or whatever our rating units are supposed to be.
Ok, that's all from me for now. Thanks.