It's been an insane week - working late nights, missing meals, fighting a cold, juggling priorities. So I woke up Wednesday morning groggy and hungry enough to gnaw a chunk off the bedside table. Of course, the day cascaded downhill, one call after another, one meeting after another, documents bearing down. I escaped a little after noon ready to settle into a solid lunch and get back on track.
So, woozy with hunger, I walk into Jenny's Lunch Box, a cute little hole in the wall on Magnolia and Tennessee in Tally. Immediately, I'm thinking good things. The place is run down in the tradition of great diners everywhere, with a cash register that doesn't close and a pass through to a cramped kitchen lined with a giant grill. The place is decorated with lunch boxes of random vintage, hung haphazardly along the ceiling and stuck on windowsills and shelves. There's a Scooby Doo one that would probably fetch a few bucks on eBay, but right next to it there's a plastic Harry Potter one circa 2006. The walls are painted bright yellow, with a few plants, mismatched chairs and about a dozen tables.
Then... the bad signs start. Bad sign number 1: When I ask "What's good?", the girl at the counter tells me "Everything." If there's no staff favorite, chances are good the staff doesn't eat there. Ever.
Bad sign number 2: I place my order and buy a cookie from the display. Looks a little perfectly round to be homemade, but it's in a homemade style case, so I figure I'll give it a shot. Two eerily crunchy bites in, I come to the realization that I just paid a dollar for two Chips Ahoy.
Bad sign number 3: I order Jenny's Special Grinder, because, based on the name, I figure it's a specialty. The cook sticks his head through the pass through and says to the girl at the counter "What's Jenny's special?," at which point she (again, I'm not kidding) hands him a menu.
15 minutes later I'm walking out the door with a grinder and "skin-on handmade fries." I get back to my desk to eat, pop open the container, and
Bad sign number 4: If these fries are hand made, they're hand made by Sysco in some third world country, and shipped back here on giant frozen palettes. And the sandwich. Keep in mind - I'm hungry enough at this point to take a serious second look at roadkill - the sandwich is completely inedible. In place of the "Italian Dressing" advertised on the menu, the sandwich has about a ladle full of straight up vegetable oil dumped over the top. The ham is lowest common denominator square slices grocery store standard. The lettuce is brown. The bread is spongy and tasteless. I had a few bites, ate the fries, and tossed the whole mess into the trash can, which has since, thankfully, been emptied.
I wanted to like this place, wanted to find some local gem long overlooked, but sometimes a dumpy little dive is just a dumpy little dive.