When I was a young boy, like any little kid, my tastes in food were pretty simple. I loved McDonald’s, the DQ burger, eventually Harvey’s and that char-broiled taste.
At some point we graduated to Ponderosa. That felt grown up. Standing in line with our metal plates, wearing our hockey jackets with our position on the right shoulder and our number on the left. Baked or mashed? The world was pretty awesome.
My mother didn’t have sophisticated tastes when it came to restaurants and menus. My dad used to make fun of her. That if there were twenty main courses, she would always order the same thing. Pork Chop Patti, he called her. “But it’s what I want”, she would say.
There were a few spots in Ottawa that were like a whole new world to me by the time I was a teenager. The Marble Works was in an historic old stone house. The Hayloft was a place where you threw your peanut shells on the floor.
And then there was Mother Tucker’s. A buffet with roast beef. And I think the first salad bar in town. That was actually a selling point. A drawing feature.
My mum and brother and I would go there for birthdays or if she got a raise or for other special occasions. All you can eat for a twelve year old is pretty awesome.
At my last job, a fellow, who had a family of similar tastes to mine in the seventies, said they spent all their special occasions there. I always thought it was kind of sad and cute at the same time. You can do better, I thought.
Tonight I was walking by Mother Tucker’s (now called Tucker’s Market) and I smirked. And then I paused. Who the fuck am I to smirk about a place that people love?
And so I went in and had dinner. I got the carved roast beef and stuff from the salad bar and saw families having a great time and the service was top notch. And I had a bite of a Yorkshire pudding and was reminded of my own father, who came from very humble beginnings, telling a work friend while they were dining at the Chateau Laurier that his Yorkshire pudding was the worst baked potato he’d ever had.
I’ve paid five times the price for worse food. I don’t need to go back again but I’m glad I did.
Because I can’t find a Ponderosa or a hockey jacket that fits me any more.
Joey, Defense, number 8.