Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Kitchens

circa 1950

   The Anglesey Restaurant, Bar and Cocktail Lounge existed in downtown Minneapolis throughout the 40s, 50s, and 60s. As a child, I was far too young to be a regular patron, but my father's job as all-purpose handyman allowed me occasional access on a Sunday afternoon if he had a special project such as putting up holiday decorations. For an impressionable lad like myself it was like a trip to a strange country, the Land of Adult Vices, a world were children were not allowed. The traditional bar, with its hunting trophies and liquor bottles, was adjacent to the 'motor lounge' where presumably sophisticated couples drank martinis and smoked cigarettes in its naugahyde-covered booths (I quickly learned to check in the space between the seat and the back for lost change.) There was a main dining room with a small bandstand, while in the rear of the complex was a room containing a piano bar—ideal for secretive trysts.

   But the part of the Anglesey which intrigued me the most was its kitchen. As anyone who has worked in commercial food preparation is aware, restaurant kitchens have an odor; a concentrated essence of the various foods prepared there. This kitchen was no exception, and probably a good deal worse than most modern ones. But there were delightful surprises: my first chocolate mint ice cream (all we got at home was Neapolitan), Baked Alaska, and what ever else wouldn't be noticed missing. A lot of fun, but a little gross around the edges (a child's easily captures the hidden sights under the equipment.)

   Fast forward 45 years. While doing some tuning and tweaking of a sound system in a new restaurant I passed through the kitchen on my way to the office where the sound gear was installed. This is a new place, but it specializes in healthy and organic foods, mostly vegetarian, but occasional fish and poultry. The smell of it was wonderful—fresh herbs and veggies—it was more like being in a just rained-upon flower garden. My goodness! No wonder I enjoy eating there.

By Professor Batty


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