Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soup Expose

My mom and sisters surprised me today by coming out to have lunch with me in Huntsville. It was quite a sacrifice for them - they had to make the 45 minute drive just for lunch and they had to eat lunch in HUNTSVILLE . . . where Chili's is the fancy restaurant in town. Anyway, when they got there, we tried to figure out where to eat - should we go to the place we always go to or try something new? It was a big decision but we ultimately opted for a place that none of us had every been to: The Junction.

The Junction is a "steakhouse" that's located in an old historical home off Highway 30 in Huntsville. It sits back from the road and looks quite regal - almost like an exclusive club. My mom had seen it from the road the last time she was up there to eat lunch with me and wanted to give it a shot. As we walked up to the door of the place, we started thinking that perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. But, not listening to our guts, we walked in and were seated immediately.

The hostess took us to a small room in the house/restaurant and tried to seat us right next to the only other diners in the place. Why do people do that?? The restaurant is WIDE OPEN and they want us to sit right on top of each other? Don't they know that we plan to talk bad about the place the whole time and want some privacy in which to do that?? Geez, people!

We sat down at the table and looked at the menu. Nothing looked all that great but we each found something that we thought we'd give a shot. Each of our meals came with our choice of soup or salad so, when our waitress came back to take our orders, I asked her what soups they had and she told me that the Soup of the Day today was Vegetable. So my mom and I ordered the Vegetable soup and my sisters each ordered salads. When our soup came, it was immediately apparent to me that it was Campbell's Vegetable soup. This is the conversation that followed:

Me: [after waitress leaves our table] Huh. This is just Campbell's soup.
Mom: Nooooooooooo. I think it's homemade.
Me: Ummmmmmm, mom . . . look at these perfect little potato cubes. You don't see that in homemade soups - you see it in canned soup. This is definitely Campbell's.
Tammy: Yeah, I think I'm gonna have to agree with Catherine.
Mom: Noooooooooo. They wouldn't use canned soup here. I think it's homemade.
Me: Mom. These potatoes are unnatural - they don't occur this way in nature. These are fake Campbell's soup potatoes.
Mom: Well, I think you're wrong.
Me: And they didn't even use the Campbell's Chunky Soup.
Mom: No. You're wrong. I'm gonna ask the waitress.
Me: NO!! How embarrassing!

[Waitress comes back to refill our water]

Mom: We were wondering if this is canned soup or homemade.
Waitress: Oh, reallyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . .
Mom: Yeah. It's really good. Do you know if they make it here.
Waitress: Ummmmmmmmm . . . [nervously hemming and hawing] . . . I uh . . . ummmmmmmm . . . I uh actually don't know . . . honestly.
Mom: Would you mind asking for us?
Tammy: We just want to know if we can buy it somewhere because we really like it.
Me: [In my head: Yeah. We really like these fake potatoes and MUST know where you found them.]
Waitress: Ummmmm . . . sure.

[Waitress leaves to go ask the "chef."]

Me: I think that's your answer right there, Mom.
Mom: What do you mean?
Me: Don't you think she knows if it's homemade. She would HAVE to know that - she's back in the kitchen all the time. She didn't want to tell us because she knows it's just canned soup.
Mom: Not necessarily.

[Waitress comes back}

Waitress: It's Campbell's.
Me: No way! I had no idea!!

Ok, seriously. This place has been written up in magazines as a great dining establishment. AND THEY'RE SERVING CAMPBELL'S SOUP?? I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a nice bowl of Campbell's soup. But at a restaurant?? As a "Soup of the Day???" I don't know about you all, but when I order "Soup of the Day," I picture a steaming pot of goodness back in the kitchen that was so time-consuming to make from scratch that they could only make one type and, thus, the solitary "Soup of the Day." I do NOT picture the waitress back in the kitchen whipping out her can opener, dumping the can of soup into a bowl, filling the can with water and adding that to the bowl, and then popping it the microwave while muttering "Let's heat this bad boy up." After the whole soup incident/undercover expose, I wanted to re-inspect the menu to see if I could find a Hungry Man TV dinner and a Sonic Burger on there.

I ate the soup and the little fake potatoes and then our meals came. Erin's meal looked like a frozen meal that was heated up and served over rice and I'm quite convinced that's what it was - one of those frozen bag meals you can buy and just heat up in a skillet. In eating their food, Erin and Tammy each said something that no restaurant owner would want to hear:

Erin: Well, the chicken's really chewy but it's ok - I kinda like it that way.
Tammy: [regarding the fact that her Hawaiian Chicken was NOT yummy . . .] If I just eat the chicken with the pineapple, I can power through it.

Not exactly ringing endorsements . . .

But, by far, the best part was when my mom went to mash up her baked potato and it broke her fork:
I don't know if this is a commentary on the baked potato or the quality of the utensils, but it's not good either way . . .

But it wasn't a wasted day. At the very least, now we know what that restaurant is like and we can cross it off our list. And, you know, maybe we caught them on a bad day. Maybe the chef had just quit and a 10 year old was back there trying to wing it. It's possible - right? Anyway, maybe I should give it another try before I make my final judgment.

And, who knows? Maybe the next time I go, the Soup of the Day will be Chicken and Stars.

Here's hoping . . .


Anonymous said...

Great pic!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and great title, too!

Anonymous said...

Final observation: you should have asked about the soup AFTER you received your entrees...

Catherine said...

Thanks! I couldn't find the accent mark for the e so don't hold that against me. :) And I agree with you - we probably got a loogie or two in our entrees . . .

Emma said...

Catherine, that was too funny! You hyave a pretty doggone good memory!!