Sunday, July 25, 2010

Restaurant Review: The Game Show Diner

As theme restaurants go, The Game Show Diner is one of my all-time favorites. Imagine...a 1970's game show set. The marquee bulbs. The 1974 colors. The sparkly sculptures, smooth abstract shapes. Yes--that's the decor of the Game Show Diner. What could be better?

The other day, I had lunch at the Game Show Diner, and I was impressed--as usual. The host, of course, is dressed like a host. A game show host, that is, one from the early seventies. (Early? Mid? Is 1974 mid? How does that work?) Anyway, walk up to the host lectern and see a man in a crazy, wide-lapel suit covered in criss-crosses. The tie is gigantic, as large as a human being made of cloth. The hairstyle is longish--how strange the way hair has changed since then...much more restrained.

When you walk into the Game Show Diner, you immediately hear the theme song. It's maddeningly repetitive. You hear the wah-wah, the ostinato, the brass section. The host says, "What do you do for a living? Tell us a little bit!" and extends the magic-wand like Bob Barker microphone to you.

The host brings you to your seat...a game-show-contestant desk...your name appears on a light panel in front of the desk, and lights up as you approach. You sit down and the host says, "Your celebrity will be right with you. Good luck."

Normally, if your host told you "good luck" at a restaurant you'd be terrified, but it's the Game Show Diner, so you understand.

A moment later, your celebrity indeed is with you.

Now if you'll recall, the celebrities on game shows in the 1970's were allowed to dress down, a little more loose and with-it than the hosts, and so you're not surprised to see your celebrity wearing a sport coat. The host comes back and stands at the celebrity's side.

"Name a beverage," your host states.

"Uh," you rack your brain, looking for a beverage to match the one in your server's mind. "I'd like a glass of wine..."

The server turns his pad around--on it is written: Wine. The happy theme song starts playing. The horns, the wah-wah. "Great!" the host states. "Just fantastic."

"OK, next..." the host says. "Name an entree."

Again, it takes a bit of ESP to win this game...What is your server thinking?

"Chicken a la King!" you shout. The server turns around his pad. "Corn Dogs Florentine."

A horrible buzzer grates in your ears. The host says, "Aw whoa! So close! Wow! Sorry!"

Unfortunately, you don't get another choice, so there's no entree for you tonight. Next you need to guess the dessert the server is thinking of.

"Apple pie," you say.

The server flips his pad and you see he's written "Melted Milk Balls with Lettuce Wedge."

The buzzer again. Audience sounds of disappointment with a little booing.

The host says, "So sorry, my friend. But you do have that fantastic glass of Boone's Farm!"

"That's fine, that's OK," you assure the host. "I didn't come here with any food, and I won't leave here with any food."

Which other eatery gives you this kind of suspense and excitement? And so I am happy to award the wonderful game show diner a full Five Consolation Prizes!

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