Getting a taste of fine dining

Kevin Cowherd

August 09, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

Restaurant review of the 7-Eleven located next to the Hair Cuttery and Ken's Cycles, which proudly offers a complete HTC selection of new and used Kawasakis:

To fully soak in the ambience, I arrived at 1 in the morning and found several sullen youths leaning against the distinctive brown "Pitch In! with 7-Eleven" trash receptacles.

At first glance, it appeared none of the teen-agers was armed. But just to be on the safe side, I opened the car door, did a quick shoulder roll onto the pavement and sprinted in zigzag fashion toward the entrance. Mercifully, this maneuver did not draw gunfire.

Our host behind the counter was a young man who gave his name as Ahmad, and who greeted my arrival by yawning and reaching into the magazine rack for a copy of Outlaw Biker.

For a cocktail, I thought long and hard about the Diet Mountain Dew, but finally chose the 64-ounce Double Gulp diet cola.

Self-served in a container the size of a grain silo, the carbonated beverage was very tasty -- that is, until a hollow-eyed young man in a Slayer T-shirt bumped into me and I dropped the cup.

But fine restaurants are used to such "accidents." Ahmad rolled his eyes and trudged off in search of a mop.

For an appetizer, I settled on the Slim Jim.

The Beef Jerky was tempting -- a five-inch strip of hard, leather-like material which tasted vaguely like an old belt.

But the Slim Jim, with its familiar ingredients of beef, water, salt, corn syrup, dextrose, flavorings, spices, paprika, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium nitrate, etc., was excellent, if a bit more "chewy" than I remembered it.

In fact, I was still chewing when a young woman lurched up against me, sending us both into the Doritos rack.

She appeared very drunk, although friendly enough, and quickly struck up a conversation ("S'cuze me, honey. You shee the Pampers?") before staggering off down the aisle.

Sadly, this particular 7-Eleven no longer provided entertainment for its diners, having removed the Test Your Blood Pressure! machine.

I'm sure more than one massive coronary was avoided by a customer who stuck his finger into the machine's slot, received an alarming digital read-out, and quickly hustled himself off to the emergency room.

The video games had also been removed; to me, there is nothing quite like a frenzied couple of minutes of Galactic Warrior to stimulate the appetite.

Deciding on a main entree wasn't easy, given the dazzling array of choices.

To be frank, Ahmad was of little help. By now, he was immersed in a copy of Heavy Metal. And in answer to my questions ("Ahmad, the hot dogs . . . they fresh or what?") he was not terribly forthcoming, dismissing them with an impatient: "Yes, yes, whatever."

Finally, I settled on a can of the Hormel chili, microwaved at a setting of "high" for 90 seconds.

The Beefaroni looked tempting, displaying as it did the familiar picture of a jaunty Chef Boy-ar-dee. Still, the chili turned out to be very good, tender chunks of succulent ground beef in . . . I don't know, some kind of sauce.

By this time, too, I had persuaded Ahmad to let me refill my Double Gulp free of charge, and I was in heaven. If there is a better feeling than standing under the harsh neon lighting of a 7-Eleven at 1:20 in the morning, wolfing down chili and guzzling diet soda as the bars empty, well, sir, I have yet to experience it.

Now it was time for dessert. As Ahmad did not seem inclined to send the dessert cart over, I decided to go off in search of something sweet and found it tucked across the aisle from the Sinus Allergy Center.

The Tastykake apple pie beckoned, as did the Zingers, rich vanilla icing over some sort of moist cookie-like substance. But in the end I decided on the Hostess Ho-Ho's, twin chocolate cakes with a creme filling that was -- here's that word again -- heavenly.

It was time to pay my bill and say so long to Ahmad, who, while thumbing through Gun N' Ammo, was kind enough to point out that the store had a "No Loitering" sign prominently displayed in the window.

Heading for the exit, I fought my way past three giggling secretaries, who appeared to have been out since Happy Hour, and two college students apparently discussing romance ("Man, you shoulda said something to her. We coulda gone to her place!")

Total cost of the meal: a very reasonable $4.16.

I gave it three stars.

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