Mandi said to me, “We don’t have to go to the Concourse tonight if you don’t want.” Confused at her note of concern, I said, “Well, it’s on the list.” She agreed with an air of resignation, “We do have to go eventually.”
The Concourse Restaurant has been an object of curiosity for us since we decided upon this project. I viewed it as an old school family restaurant in need of a new coat of paint. Mandi had no such illusions, but didn’t realize I was labouring under such naive assumptions.
We entered through the grimy glass door with a note reading “Closed 10/09” taped to it. In the second it took my eyes to adjust to the dim interior, my blood chilled about 10 degrees. Staring at us were a half dozen urban hillbillies. Obi Wan’s voice resonated in my head, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Behind me Mandi brightly said, “Do you want to sit over here?”
I nodded and became aware of another, more gruff, yet friendly voice saying, “Hey, it’s new people! Stop staring at them! Get out of their way. You’re making them nervous!”
I went into shut-down mode. Somehow Mandi sat me down at the table furthest away and most removed from the knot of human misery. A very small Asian lady came by with some laminated menus which she’d placed on the brown Formica table before we even sat on the orange cracked vinyl chairs. The windows were so dirty there was an illusion of smoke in the air.
The guy who announced our arrival stopped by our table on his way out the door to smoke and told us to get the hamburgers. Just underneath his eyebrow were three fresh stitches. I’d hate to see the other guy. So we took his advice and ordered the burgers. I got mine with fries, Mandi got a salad.
The best way to describe the burgers would be “old school.” They tasted exactly like the BC Ferries burgers before White Spot got the contract and ruined the ferry experience. Mandi described them as McKeller Confectionery (Thunder Bay) burgers without the Coney sauce. The fries were crispy. Mandi’s salad was covered in white vinegar. Mandi liked it but said she suspected most other people would be shocked. She also got what she called “the vinegar sweats.” Which she used finger motions under her eyes to demonstrate.
The service was amazingly fast. We weren’t sure how we got our food so quickly. It was like the woman knew we needed to get out of there as quickly as possible. While we were waiting and eating we overheard such snippets as.
“You don’t see Dentyne anymore.”
“Dentyne. In the little packets.”
“I know what the fuck Dentyne is.”
“It’s supposed to be good for your teeth.”
“Yeah, but it tastes like shit.”
“You can’t find it anymore.”
“She told me to get somebody to get Mike in here.”
“Why should we?”
“She’s going to smash him one.”
“Why she saying that?”
“He just don’t know when he’s being disrespect–”
“Well I was in there for two years”
“He’s being disresp–”
“How you do that?” (Buddy was performing a trick with his cigarette.)
“I was in for like two years. Coulda been eight but–”
“What’s the one with the salt shaker?”
“I seen him at the liquor store today.”
“That’s the liquor store that Bobby and Mike robbed and then the cops showed up.”
“What’s the one with the salt shaker? The one with the pen is good.”
“The pen? Yeah, in grade school.”
“I was in for like two years.”
The Asian woman came up to us just as Mandi was swallowing her last bite and said, “You pay now? Mmmmhmmm?”
“Yes,” we said in unison.
Buddy said to her as she went to get our bill, “Did they have the burgers?” And then to us, “They’re pretty good aren’t they? Better than McDonald’s.”
“They were great. We took your advice,” Mandi said. I was still in panic mode, my eyes locked on the door. We exited into the bright evening sunshine. I said, “Well, that was more awesome than I expected.”
Food: 4 greasy spoons out of 5
Atmosphere: 6 out of 5 dirtbags