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Country Folk


Sun, Dec 3rd, 2000
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Monday, December 4, 2000

My wife, Deb, and I recently went on a business trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. We had never been there before and didn’t really know what to expect. Prior to the trip, I would not have guessed that food would provide some of the main memories of the four-day adventure.

The airline whetted our appetites by promising us food on the flight and then changing their minds. We arrived famished in Denver. We stopped at the "Mountain Lyon Café" in a little town west of Denver. I am usually wary of places that purposely misspell their own names. Perhaps they think that if a customer will overlook a blatant misspelling on the sign on the roof, then maybe he will overlook the fly in the soup and the mountain "lyon" hair in the milk glass. I should not have worried. The food was good, the service was friendly, and the forage was substantial for a very reasonable six bucks. We left the café feeling stuffed and pleased with ourselves for being such good judges of restaurants.

Later that same day, if you can imagine this, we got hungry again. By this time we had met up with the rest of our group from North Dakota, Nebraska, and the western side of Colorado. A more congenial and hungry bunch of down home farm folk had rarely gathered in such an expensive setting. We discussed various dining options. Our leader, a Colorado rascal who goes by the name of Maylon, spotted a "two-fer" deal in the local paper.

"Look here, folks," he yelled, "there’s a two-for-one deal on suppers tonight at the Alpine Café right here in downtown Breckenridge. That sounds good. Let’s do it." And so we did. After all, our earlier experience at the Mountain Lyon was successful, so why not try again.

The eight of us piled into our cars and headed the few blocks to the Alpine Café. It was in a small building in the middle of town. It was cold and dark so we hustled right in the door. A young man led us through the almost empty downstairs bar and eating area. We followed him up a flight of steps to where he seated us at a table in a large, otherwise vacant room.

Another young man with an earring in each ear introduced himself as Mike and smilingly welcomed us to the Alpine. He assured us that we were in for a dining delight and told us how the menu changed with the seasons and that we were fortunate to be trying out a menu that had been created by the chef within the last five weeks. I was expecting one of those massive photo-filled foldout jobs. I was surprised when he handed us a one page menu printed on plain typing paper and stuck to a piece of black construction paper.

I was even more surprised when Mike shut up long enough for me to look at the menu. I watched my dining companions as they looked at their menus and saw their jaws drop in amazement. We couldn’t read them. Each of the dozen or so dinner entrees had one or two words we could understand, but the rest of the offering was gibberish. There were several items on the menu that we Midwesterners normally think of as pet food rather than people food. There were vegetables that we had never heard of. We were stunned.

Then we studied the prices. Again, proof positive that this was no flatland café. Twenty-seven dollars for a chunk of steak. Nineteen dollars for half a trout. Twenty-one bucks for a piece of a lamb leg. Eighteen bucks for a hunk of meatloaf. Well, what could we do? Maylon had an idea.

"Do you think we could just give Mike five dollars and walk out?" he asked us.

"Don’t know," someone replied, "Says here at the bottom of the menu that there is a mandatory eighteen percent tip added to every bill. I think Mike might not like it if we left." Our flatland morals were showing. We had already decided that Mike’s feelings were worth more than our budgets and taste buds.

Finally, with Mike’s help, we each ordered food that was unusual to our untrained palates, but turned out to be pretty darned good. The two-for-one deal helped so that we got out of there without being whacked too hard financially. The total tonnage and overall calorie count was somewhat less than desirable, so we stopped at a grocery store on the way back to our rooms to stock up on snacks to get us through until morning.

I guess it is good to get out and see the world once in a while. The Alpine Café was certainly a good lesson for me, but I can’t help but think that for that kind of money they could have given us a cookie for dessert.

Wayne Pike

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