Lunch with Louie at the Sojourner Café
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
Mar 16, 9:19 PM (PT)
I had a dream last night; funny and strange at the same time. It placed me on an Italian piazza with a gorgeous brunette. I am sure you have seen the commercial where a woman gets a diamond ring from this good looking dude and afterwards does a dancing pirouette that almost bumps off a couple of pigeons flying by, and then screams, “Oh my God, I love this man!” Nauseating, isn’t it? Well, my dream was almost the same, the brunette, the pigeons, the piazza in Italy, the pirouette, but no ring. Instead of a small ring case, I gave her a take-home container, like you get in a restaurant for leftovers. She opened it, did the little dance and screamed, “Oh my God, tofu. I love tofu. And, I love this man!”
So strange, but it had to mean something. You’ve got to follow your dreams, so I called Ed and told him about the bizarre occurrence. It could only mean one thing. Our next lunch had to be in a restaurant or coffee shop that had tofu on their menu. You know, you’ve got to follow your dreams.
The Sojourner Café was the unanimous choice, and Tuesday at 12 we were there. As soon as we sat down we knew something out of the ordinary was going on. For no reason we could possibly think of, a waitress and the hostess immediately ran behind a partition and began staring at us like we were members of Al Qaeda. There was hate and suspicion in those looks, and there were bad vibes that were definitely directed at us. To tell you the truth, it was freaky.
The tofu was on the menu as we suspected, but considering that I hate the evil stuff, we didn’t order any. Instead, we ordered a marinated salad with artichokes, feta cheese, Greek olives, and lots of other veggies, and an order of fish tacos that came with rice and beans and guacamole. We also ordered some water and lemonade.
Ed had run seven miles in the morning, so he was thirsty. After ten minutes of inactivity and no water, Ed asked, and very nicely I must add, if it was possible to get the water; not an unreasonable request, I thought. Well, the so-called waitress who was serving us didn’t think so. I have never seen anything like it. Her face became transfigured, she extended her arms with her palms almost touching Ed’s face - she uttered “DON’T RUSH ME, OK!” You like that? How is that for service? I thought he was lucky he didn’t get slapped. It was the worst I have ever experienced yet in any restaurant and in any town - two arms extended at their fullest, with the palms open in the stop position, almost touching your face, when all you did was just ask for your water, and with an audience to boot.
We should have exited right there, but troopers that we are, we stayed and ate.
The salad was ruined by the excessive amount of vinegar they used in the marinade; the tacos, made with a fish called Opa were average, and the fish a little tough. Rice and beans were just that, rice and beans, but the guacamole was excellent and by far the best thing in the entire meal.
Our waitress must have had second thoughts about her performance because as the meal progressed she became a little more human. But by then we had assimilated completely the dosage of bile we had been given. It was too late. And by the way, the statement the Sojourner makes in their ads about healthful gourmet food - does it mean that the rest of the restaurant colony is in the business of providing us with unhealthful gourmet food? And while we are at it, I think it’s time for a little remodeling - that wooden paneling is getting a little passé even for a truck stop coffee shop in Arkansas.
Follow your dreams, but not those you have at night. They can give you heartburn or worse yet turn your lunch into a nightmare.
Edhat reader comments:
“Hey, too bad about your bad service experience ... it does happen usually when you are at your ‘hungriest’ moment, does it not? I think it is the lack of work ethic and manners found in too many twenty-something kids, but that's fine if they want to remain an hourly wage earner growing zucchini in a window box in their $1200 a month 1 bedroom apartment. More power to them!
I do not want to get off of the topic though ... I attended UCSB back in 1980 and thereabouts, when Wally owned the "Soj" as we cool people called it. It was a Frisbee hangout for all of us hard core Santa Barbara Condors. How I relished those dinners of a Baked Potato Supreme and a Mocha Frosted! Pure Karma and Peace then! The walls were covered with bitchin (is that still a word?) Frisbee pictures and had so much more ambiance than it does now.
Just a warning ... if waiting for a glass of water is torturous for you, don't travel to Canada! They act like you WANT to sit for 10 minutes and chat before they will get you a glass.”
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