Friday, June 20, 2008

Crusty's Burger Burn

by Pa Rock
Food Critic

I had lunch today at Crustano’s, the snack bar in the Block House at Luke Air Force Base. My past eating experiences there have been very good, but not this time.

Crustano’s used to have a hot buffet, but that has been removed since my last visit. They now offer a very bare-bones salad bar and an extensive line of sandwiches which are prepared as you wait. Not feeling exotic, I decided on one of the specials – a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a large iced tea.

My first clue that trouble might be on the horizon came when the attendant asked me if I wanted mayonnaise on the cheeseburger. “No,” I explained calmly, “God did not intend for mayonnaise to be put on burgers.”

“Mustard, then?” she asked, sounding more than a little miffed.

“Mustard would be wonderful.”

She looked as though that was the oddest request that she had encountered in some time, but pushed ahead into the vegetation. “Lettuce.”

“No lettuce,” I said, stepping backward to avoid a V-8 head bop.


“Yes, please.”

“We don’t have tomatoes.” (I hadn’t asked.) “How about onions?”

“Onions would be good.”

“And would you like fries, chips or salad with that?”

“I would like onion rings. It’s there on your sign as part of the special.”

“Oh, so it is.” After a few minutes of fiddling with the cash register, she continued, “I can’t get onion rings to come up on my machine.” It wasn’t my problem, so I didn’t respond. There were a couple of more minutes of button-pushing before we moved on to drinks. “You can get a small drink with that for fifty cents.”

“I want a large drink.”

“Oh, I see.” More button-pushing. That will be seven dollars and fifty-cents.”

With the floor show at an end, I sat down to await the meal. It arrived very quickly, but to my dismay it was not very “special.” For starters the cheeseburger had no cheese, and she had ignored my request for mustard. There were onions, so many that I pulled most off, and three very thick pickle slices – sweet pickles! What planet was this gal from? In spite of all of this culinary strangeness, I still should have been able to make a modest meal from the bun, meat patty, and onion rings – but that wasn’t to happen either. The bun was fine, but the meat was overcooked to the point of being unchewable and inedible, and the onion rings were just a few degrees shy of being charcoal rings. I was able to enjoy the bun and the iced tea, but the rest went into the trash.

I doubt that I will ever eat at Crustano’s again, but in the event that I do, I will take the damned mayonnaise and go to insufferable extremes not to offend the server.

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