Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thursday April 29th 2010
Steve's Lunch, Lorain and W 50th, Cleveland, OH
A kin to my native Olneyville New York System, Steve's Lunch is Cleveland's version of the all night disaster dog diner. The kind of place where neither the owners, the employees, or the patrons, care at all. Going there it is well known that you will be eating disgusting, although somewhat pleasurable garbage food with the possibility of unknown long term health risks, which will be hesitantly and unhappily served to you without a trace of pride by the downtrodden staff.
The menu is an explosion of sharpie scrawled construction paper taped erratically across the walls, explaining specials, sides, prices, rules of the house.
One recurring name on the menu is "Dooley". There is the Dooley Sandwich, the Super Dooley, maybe even the Dooley Deluxe. Dooley is the name of a Cleveland police officer who with loyal patronage and true dedication to Steve's Lunch, earned his way into the menu. Last time I was here he stood behind the counter, manning the grill, in full law enforcement uniform, brandishing a tazer, simultaneously preventing a violent outbreak amongst the drunk and disorderly customers, while processing and serving the orders in an appropriate fashion.
I have a theory on how this came to be: Dooley, new to the force, is assigned to the West Lorain neighborhood 'beat', passing by Steve's on a daily basis. Being a big hungry guy, he stops in has a few dogs, a coffee, it starts becoming a regular thing. He gets to know the waitresses, the owner, and always secretly having a passion for cooking, jumps behind the counter, gets on the grill, and saves the day on a busy and understaffed Saturday night, forever earning the trust and love of Steve's Lunch and their people.
So while listening to the list of races he's unafraid to taze, "Chinese, Puerto Rican, Mexican, hell I'll taze anyone.", I can only assume in addition to his police salary, Steve's is probably kicking him a few bucks on the side as well. Which means that in at least one respect, Dooley is really cleaning up out there in Cleveland.
Seen here is the regular Dooley sandwich, an egg, three sausage, four bacon, and cheese. And here, my Slaw Dog, a tightly cased, ultra low quality dog pulled from a vat of discolored warm water, shoved into a bun and loaded up with cole slaw. Something that actually tastes amazing after a long night of moderate rock and VHS.
Time is much more of a commitment here than you'd expect. You'd think you could just walk in, yell out 'slaw dog' and before you knew it you'd be back at home with the vile lingering taste in your mouth as the only confirmation that you actually ate the thing. A whirlwind, the way you want it to be, the way it should be. Instead it takes easliy ten minutes to even place your order. "I got a lot of orders to take!", the woman behind the counter will yell out of frustration with the presence of customers and the annoyance of having to do work. When you do finally get to tell them what you want, your order is then very casually assembled taking another 10 to 15 minutes before you can actually eat.
Is it worth the wait? Absolutely not. Do I enjoy killing time for a half hour just to introduce a tube of poisionous reject meat into my body at the end? Well, yes, I sort of do.