Cap'n Daves Kitchen

Dear Cap'n Dave, I find this luncheon spot (The Turtle's Hurdle) very good. The food is tops and the place is extra clean.

Try it sometime. Walter F. Dudley

I found The Turtle's Hurdle just north of the lovely intersection of Indian School and 15th Avenue. A garden spot this crossroads is not, even on those rare occasions when they're not using West Indian School as a missile testing range. Actually, I've been eyeballing the tiny storefront that is The Turtle's Hurdle for some time, Walter, but your letter goosed me into actually eating there. My report follows. (By the way, Walt, thanks for sending along your business card. I've got just two questions: Will you do my taxes? And do you accept collect calls from federal correctional institutions?) Of course, the name--The Turtle's Hurdle--is just too dumb for words. What does it mean? Is it a reference to some obscure children's tale? Does a person nicknamed "Turtle" work there? Is the owner a track-and-field fan? Or what? I don't know, I didn't ask, it doesn't really matter. At some point someone decided, mistakenly it turns out, that "The Turtle's Hurdle" would make a good name for a sandwich shop. Dumb, the name is, but it's an honest kind of dumb, and if you want, you can abbreviate it to The Turdle, which is what I'll be doing for the rest of this column. The Turdle's dining room is tiny. Me and a small gang of giggling fellow eaters grabbed seats at one of the room's four little tables, then we peeked at the menu. Because it was about 12:30 in the afternoon and smack in the middle of the lunch rush, both of the Turdle's employees (identified on the menu as "chefs Bob and Zena") were lounging at separate tables with nothing to do. They seemed glad to see us. One of us ordered a bowl of vegetable soup and a ham sandwich. One of us ordered a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat. One of us, me actually, ordered a big sub sandwich (spelled "The Torpedo" on the menu, management pronounces the word using the feminine ending, torpeda), a bowl of chili and something called a "health salad," which I ordered strictly out of a professional obligation to discover new frontiers in foodstuffs.

The food kind of straggled out of the kitchen a little bit at a time. First came our drinks, which were served with ice cubes apparently popped straight from an ice tray. When was the last time you ate in a place not your kitchen where they still use ice trays? It was at precisely this moment that the meal became a fully three-dimensional experience. Next came the vegetable soup, which appeared to have several big chunks of vegetables in it. Our soup eater pronounced it excellent. Next came the sandwiches, which were all terrific, too. My Torpeda, especially, was great. The sub roll was fresh and piled high with roast beef, ham, turkey and cheese. All of the sandwiches came with a miniature plastic cup that held about one medium mouthful of potato salad (which was very good) and several tasty pickles. Next came the chili, which looked incredibly weird (probably from too much time in the micro) but which tasted fine. Last came the "health salad," essentially a plastic container full of fresh vegetables including red pepper and radishes, which are the kinds of things you seldom see on your typical "health salads" anymore.

Anyway, this entire whopping lunch for three cost a few cents more than $14. That is, in my opinion, one screamin' deal. The food is very good, the service is very strange and the name is very terrible, but I highly recommend that you go eat lunch over at The Turdle right away and see the place for yourself. Make sure to order a beverage, and keep your eyes peeled for those ice cubes. I'm telling you, they're totally cool.

Till we eat again . . .

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Cap'n Dave