Brian gets shortchanged; Ted gets shortcake

The first thing we saw upon entering the restaurant was—get this—a laminated copy of last year’s Must-Do list hanging by the door. No coincidence, to be sure: in fact, Joe Bardi's admission that he had never eaten at Jack's was inspiration for the original checklist.


We took this CL spot as a good omen and found seats at the center of the dining room. I asked if they had any classic pies—blueberry, apple, hell, rhubarb would do. [image-1]The waitress (“Calamity Jane,” according to her nametag) said they couldn’t do pie, pointing me instead to the strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits. I jumped all over it. Brian ordered the fiesta omelet, hold the sausage (he’s on a pescaterian kick), and asked to substitute mushrooms. “No, I couldn’t do that,” the waitress said, before taking our menus and her leave.


“Well, actually you could,” Brian muttered under his breath.


Brian has always subscribed to the “Customer’s Always Right” school of thought—his mother too, for that matter. So I generally have to talk him down when he gets indignant in a diner, or a movie theater, or an auto shop, or a strip club. More than anything else, he can’t stand the “oh, I couldn’t allow that” response favored by small-time bureaucrats and, as often as not, perfectly nice waitresses. In this case he forbore and ate his omelet without complaint (but with plenty of hot sauce).


My strawberry shortcake, meanwhile, was the talk of the town. [image-2]A fat biscuit, embellished with several gallons of whipped cream and a small army of plump strawberries—I couldn’t eat it for the first few minutes because I needed to inspect the thing from a number of angles. A couple at the next table ogled my dish, their eyes shiny with greed. When I met the woman’s gaze she smiled and said it looked delicious. I offered a bite.


She demurred.


Behind me, I heard a considerably older woman ask Calamity Jane what I had ordered. “That’s our signature strawberry shortcake,” Jane said proudly.


I dug in.


It was as good as it looked, the biscuit flaky all over and just a bit soggy at the top from the cream—delish. As we ate, pigs of paper, pigs of wax, pigs of plastic and ceramic and lead and stone leered at us from all corners of the restaurant—floor, walls, ceiling, bar. A good thing, perhaps, that neither of us ordered a single pork product—not even their ‘signature’ pork brains.


I was quite pleased with my breakfast; Brian was so angry his beard fell out!


--Ted Scheinman

What: Breakfast at Skyway Jack’s

Must-Do? Says Who? Must-Do I; the pig at the side of the road

Casualties: $12.00, including coffee; Brian's beard

Notable Quotable: "I'll have what he's having."

At the outset of a mammoth day, we wanted hearty breakfast in a roadside joint with hundreds of pig effigies on the walls and a no-nonsense wait staff. Skyway Jack’s, according to popular wisdom and the old Must-Do list, was the place for us.

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