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Chowhoundishness = Embarrassment

  • m

So I kind of fancy myself something of a chowhound Magellan, spending lunch hours randomly driving up city streets in search of virgin chow territory, coffee shops, dives...whatever.

Today, I'm munching my tacos al pastor, cruising a street I haven't been down in a while and I spy this new green awning with the big, white block letters "Polish Lounge" across the front. I noticed at the last second, so couldn't get a good look through the tiny storefront windows, which were tinted anyway. Just a sign that said "Open". "Wow...I love eastern European food, and always keep my eye out for new places. How could I not know about this?" I think to myself. It's not exactly an obscure neighborhood, just a little out of the mainstream.

So I hurriedly get back to work, salivating over visions of cabbage rolls and pierogis. Get to my desk and jump on-line and.....nothing. Huh? Not a mention of the place. Searched by address...nothing. City of Minneapolis licensing....nothing. Yellow pages...address and phone number.

OK, self admission time. Come on...you can relate. This is a Chowhound's dream...to be the one who found it first, right??? Finally, I can be the insider. The one to shepherd the starving flock to a pasture of untrodden deliciousness!!

So, I decide to make the awkward call since it's a good 20 minute drive from my office and I can't just pop in:

(muffled voice saying "Polish Lounge")

Me, excitedly: "Hi. Uh. Kind of odd question. Ummm. What kind of place are you? Uh. Do you serve food?"

Muffled Voice: "Yeah...we're actually a nail salon. The PAH-lish Lounge."

Me: (awkward Mark Spitz-like backstroke out of embarrassing situation) "Oh. Have you considered serving food, to cover both possibilities?"

Click. (((((insert dial tone and sound of bubble bursting here))))))

So...anyone else ever have this kind of "oops" while chowhound spelunking/exploring?

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  1. I've no comparable experience but thanks for your story, gave me a chuckle.

    1. That is so funny -- what a perfect Chowhound tale (i.e, my reaction - "That's hysterical". Non-Chowhound hubby's typical CH-related reaction of rolling the eyes). Thanks for a great story!

      1. Terrific story, this is one for the Chowhound Hall of Fame.

        1. epicure, manicure-close enough :)

          great story!

          1. Yes, mine was worse, if only because mine comes with a healthy dose of shame.

            I was recently coming back on the free IKEA shuttle bus from New Jersey (already, a tragic start) when as the bus was approaching Port Authority Bus Terminal, I happened to glance outside my window and saw a man handing out styrofoam containers to a gathered few from the trunk of his car on W. 41 St. People already with their containers were wolfing them down, seemingly enjoying some good eats. I immediately imagined some intrepid entrepeneur with the home-cooked goodies from his native land, and I started salivating in the bus like a hyper dog leaping to get out of the bus, ready to try something new.

            Unfortunately, I couldn't retrace the bus back to said trunk that day, but at first opportunity, I posted right there on the Manhattan board to see if anyone knew about this imagined deliciousness. I eventually got a reply back that instead of what I thought, the man and his trunk full of eats were actually from an outreach program feeding the homeless. Those people wolfing down food were doing so because they were hungry, not because it was some exotic cuisine. I felt shamed, embarrassed and extremely humbled.

            Yes, I love chow, and I will search for the good stuff and I love getting great suggestions off of chowhound, but it was good to be reminded that there are people who look just to have something in their stomachs. I am grateful food is enjoyment for me, not just subsistence for another day.

            P.S. My ignorant posting is still out there floating in the chowhound universe, like a bad embarassing prom picture.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Pupster

              Don't feel ashamed, it was an honest mistake from a 'hound on the hunt (just doing what comes naturally) and you rehabilitated yourself fine with your responding post on that thread. And, your posting did stimulate another response that sounded like a good chow tip.

              1. re: Chino Wayne

                Hey, I was reading the Chinese/English lunch menu taped to a funky doorway in Chintown, til I realized it was the daily lunch for the senior center inside....

                1. re: galleygirl


                  We were visiting a museum on the near south side of Chicago. When we returned to our car, the trunk of the very nice car in front of us was open. A nicely dressed man and woman were pulling out all the necessities for a sidewalk BBQ and picnic.

                  Driving away, we began talking about how nice their car and clothing was, yet they could not afford a meal in a restaurant. Fortunately we stopped short of a collection plate on their behalf when I realized there was a Bear's football game scheduled that day. What we thought was evidence of poverty was really a tailgate party!

                  We learn something every day!


                  1. re: Cathy2

                    Why, with all the evidence to the contrary, would you assume these people were having a picnic lunch because they couldn't afford a restaurant?? Maybe I'm unnaturally fond of picnics, but I don't think you have to be poor to enjoy then.

              2. re: Pupster

                Better you found out that way. You could have gone up, taken the food, then posted a scathing criticism of it on the board and THEN found out.

              3. j
                janet of reno

                Don't be embarrassed; as I was reading your post waiting for the punch line I kept wondering if the place turned out to be some kind of strip joint...Which leads me to my embarrassment: Hubby and I were on a road trip to Vegas and I pointed out what I thought looked like a good bar and maybe a good place to eat somewhere in the middle of nowhere outside of Pahrumph (Where good places to eat and drink are few and far between..)....My husband took one look, laughed, and gently informed me that the place in question was a brothel....(I refrained from asking him how he knew :-)

                6 Replies
                1. re: janet of reno
                  JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                  Let me guess, the Chicken Ranch?

                  We actually had someone ask about it a few years ago on the Southwest board... see for yourself.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)
                    janet of reno

                    lol....now I remember the Chicken Ranch posts...although I remember at the time there was a lot of discussion about whether she was joking, or perhaps he was joking with her.....I can think of all kinds of clever answers to the question of what's on the menu, but not only are they out of the realm of this website, but in poor taste to boot (see posts on the site discussion board about lack of political correctedness......). (To those who don't know, the list of services in a brothel is referred to as a menu). But back to the original subject, I don't remember which brothel it was, but I do distinctly remember telling my husband we should check out the place.....

                    1. re: janet of reno

                      I was actually dying for a cocktail on a crawl in Flushing's Chinatown a couple of years ago, and there wasn't a bar to be found...:(
                      Finally, we spied a small, dark plate glass window with a martini neon sign....BINGO!!!!!!

                      We went in, one of my friends(female) headed for the restroom, told us to order her a Heineken...I sat down, with our two male friends, and ordered a glass of white wine...The hostess brought the wine list over, and we opened it up, and discovered a glass of Kendall Jackson Chard was $60...The Heineken was $50....We slowly looked around, and realized there was a "hostess", in a very tight dress, sitiing with the "clients" at all the other tables....Our friends came out of the ladies' room, we grabbed her, and beat a rather sheepish retreat....

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        That reminds me of a couple of experiences I had looking for banh mi in Oakland's Little Saigon neighborhood. I walked into a place that said "cafe" and "banh mi" on the sign, but when I asked for banh mi at what appeared to be the ordering counter, the hostess just gave me a blank look and said they didn't serve food. Looking around the room, I realized all the patrons were men, many of them were playing games of some kind, the place was filled with cigarette smoke (illegal in CA), and there were several keno game displays and playslips on every table. In other words, it was a gambling parlor masquerading as a cafe.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Almost the same experience. Guy I worked with was going back home so we asked where he wanted to go for a "last" meal. His favorite "restaurant" was in Woodside, Queens. No problem, pile in the car and away we go. I'm the only female in the group. Get to the place a 5pm and ask for a table. Get lots of *weird* looks from the very attractive female staff. Turns out that this restaurant basically serves dances with the female staff and booze. We hightail it to El Mariachi down the street and have great tacos al pastor and laugh like idiots for the rest of the night.

                          1. re: Siobhan

                            Bonus points for having your experience include tacos al pastor!

                            These are great stories. I don't feel so ashamed now.

                2. My friend Brian, back in the early days of Macintosh computers, was giving a lecture on desktop publishing at the senior center.

                  He gave his standard 45 minute spiel and then asked the audience for questions.

                  One little lady, with perfect Emily Litella intonation said "Yes, this about computers is all very nice, but what does it have to do with desktop polishing?"