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You remember those days when you are starving and trying to make something quick and easy and then your brain goes “there’s hot dogs in the fridge silly – we’ll be full of yummy nitrates in two minutes (thanks microwave!)” As the doggies burst at the ends under the mounting radiation, you reach over to the stack of plastic-wrapped bakery things for the hot dog rolls. You bought the hot dogs so you must have gotten rolls to go with them, right? It’s then that you remember pouring Manwich all over those bad boys at 3 in the morning last weekend. Oops.

Dogs ding and now there is no turning back. Okay, it won’t be the first time i have to roll one up in a piece of bread with the crust getting in the way and the middle all stuck to the meat casing (do I still want to do this?) Grabbing the bread reveals three pieces – two of them the butt ends and all covered in green fuzzy mold. Bread meet garbage can.

What now?

Resting where the moldy bread sat, is a hidden sliver of something that might just do the job: supermarket thin pita bread. You cut the dogs up and wedge them in there with condiments of your choosing (or availability) and you… well… you make do with what you have and your stomach might not be the wiser but your palette knows it has been cheated. Its and empty feeling.

Now I am here to tell you how you can leave your home and still get that empty feeling for a very small fee. Welcome to Old Town’s newest culinary adventure, the brilliantly named Zorkafor’s SandVeg (TM of course.)

Brightly colored in a horrible font choice, the awning for the establishment went up with much fanfare over a previously hit or miss Mexican joint last year. Postings for permits went up but no actual restaurant. Month’s passed and the awning was covered. Then at the start of the year we noticed a little rumble going on inside. Could it be? Nah – we were convinced it must be a new restaurant coming in all together. Imagine our surprise when April brought the unveiling of a brand spanking new Zorkafor’s! We instantly knew we had to take part in this mysterious SandVeg at once.

Walking in, the decor gives the impression of medium grade fast food despite the middle-eastern easy listening soundtrack. An eating “bar” that is so popular in Old Town’s smaller establishments, wraps around the sides with small tables and stools in the middle. This will create a bit of a mess if it ever gets bustling, as folks trying to order will have to wade through those eating to make it to the counter. Once they get to the counter, they might find themselves giving their order to a street-wise, hard scrabble cashier and her gruff demeanor. I know help can be hard to find but this was not the first impression I would hope they want to make.

Ordering is pretty simple. Ol’ Zorky has a pita that can be filled with falafel, veggies, hot dog, beef or chicken. No more no less. You can even add bite-sized portions of each for a mere 50 cents so a combo is certainly not out of the question. It wasn’t hard to order a little of everything in our group and no one was left hungry as the fries came in ample supply. However, a place like this should thrive on only preparing a few items in the sense that they should always be ready on the grill. Instead it took quite some time for the lone cook to prepare each “SandVeg” as per order. When they arrived it was on a bed of supermarket style, tasteless, shredded iceberg lettuce, housed in a thin, tasteless pita. You do have the option to put a ton of condiments and veggies in there with your selection but they are all out salad bar style, exposed to those waiting for their orders. For me, that is always a little on the gross side. Luckily, they haven’t been overrun just yet so I wasn’t as squeamish as I might have been.

Everyone had a similar response as I to our meal. Decent fries, the usual suspects at the soda fountain (I did manage a killer Arnold Palmer as they had the precious unsweetened iced tea to go with the lemonade) and meh main courses. My hot dog was fine enough and the sliced gherkin pickles I added were a tiny piece of sweet and sour heaven but the pita was bland and soon fell apart under the drip of my ketchup bottle. Soon all that was left was a mess and the feeling of lost opportunity. Having waited a full year for the appearance of this elusive “SandVeg” I was dismayed. Could this be all there is? That little voice in my head speaks up. “Yes my friend. That’s all there is. Lets get a Manwich…


photo credit: Phil Foss, iphone pic.

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