Reading Terminal Market
I wrapped up my Philly visit by taking a swing into the Reading Terminal Market. Street parking around this place wasn’t going to happen. Heck, the area was so crowded simply trying to drive around it was a challenge. Thankfully, the Reading Terminal Market appears to have partnered with two different parking garages. As long as you make a purchase in the market you can get your parking ticket Val-E-Date-Ted and only pay a flat $4 fee instead of whatever the garage normally charges.
The Reading Terminal Market is the one shown in National Treasure. You know the scene, “If you’re not a steak you don’t belong back here”. Yeah, that one. Only the movie grossly under-represented how packed the place really is. Wowsers! It was shoulder to shoulder. I felt like I was back in the Mutter Museum, only without the heat and stink.
The Reading Terminal Market is pretty big. Before deciding where I was going to eat I attempted to walk past and look at all options. I can’t be sure I was successful, but I hadn’t eaten since breakfast around 8 hours ago. Basically, my hunger told me to quit the search and just pick something. My vote went to a Pennsylvania Dutch place as I wanted their turkey dinner. My cohort voted for a schnitzel place, so of course I had schnitzel. Alan the Intern spotted a New Orleans place with po’boys and he was entranced. Po’boys are Alan the Intern’s weakness, he can’t not have one.
Time for lunch
So I fought my way back to the schnitzel place and ordered a chicken schnitzel platter and a chicken schnitzel sandwich. The platter came with fries. The sandwich came with bread, as sandwiches do. I then asked if they had beverages. The counter guy stared at me like I was an idiot and pointed to the giant obvious soda fountain that my shoulder was all but pressed against. There’s the famous J.D. powers of observation hard at work again.
The soda fountain had all the usual beverages. There was one mysterious tap however with a piece of masking tape on it and something written on the tape. I had no idea what the label said. I’m not sure if it was bad handwriting, random symbols, or Dutch. So I asked the guy, “what’s this one?” while pointing to the tag of mystery. He boredly replies “apple” like he gets asked that question with every order. I’d suggest they just write apple on the label, but I’m sure that would just cause people to ask “What’s apple soda?” Having never had apple soda, I added that to my order.
I sent my cohort in search of a table while I waited for the food. An acceptable wait time later the guy comes over and hands me two plates. He then asks if I want ketchup for the fries. “Yes please” was my reply. He wandered away and began restocking utensils and stuff behind the counter. I stood waiting figuring any moment now he was going to bring me ketchup packets. He never came back. Apparently, “would you like ketchup” can be a rhetorical question. You learn something new every day.
With great care, I juggled my two plates of food and cup of soda. I jammed the napkins, utensils, and thoughts of ketchup into my jacket pocket and wandered off in search of my cohort. I wasn’t entirely sure where in the Reading Terminal Market my cohort settled, but I figured I would just look for the pile of corpses surrounding her conquested table.
Both our schnitzels ended up burned on the outside, but juicy and perfectly cooked on the inside. Me-thinks they need to turn down the heat on their oil, and probably change it out. The fries had too much salt. My cohort’s sandwich was missing the tomato relish type stuff, but only on half of it. The food and service really screamed “I stopped caring about my job weeks ago.” I will say the apple soda was good. It was like non alcoholic hard cider, or you know, apple juice with bubbles.
After finishing our schnitzels we went in search of Alan the Intern and his po’boys. He was sitting at the counter at the New Orleans place. Wait, he got a counter seat? Man, I’m starting to think I settled for the wrong choice for food. Alan the Intern had a pile of little cardboard trays in front of him. I think he sampled half their menu. He was finishing fried mac and cheese balls when we found him. There was mention of alligator, sausage, then some pointing and happy grunting that I think were names of other foods he found delicious. Yeah, I definitely ate at the wrong place.
It was time to blow this popsicle stand and head back home. However, I noticed some apple dumplings in my wanderings and decided I wanted to bring one home with me. After a bit of wandering back and forth I found them again at the Pennsylvania Dutch place. A very nice “Amish” girl sold me a pack of three. I put Amish in quotes because I’m not sure she really was Amish. My suspicion is she was wearing a costume to go with the restaurant’s theme. I can safely say that because if she really is Amish, she is unlikely to ever read this. If she isn’t Amish and does read this, then it doesn’t matter because I was right.
She asked if I wanted cream for the apples. I said no and explained I lived several hours away from the Reading Terminal Market so it wasn’t going to good by the time I got home. She proceeded to put three little cups of it in the bag anyway. I’m starting to think everyone in this place is on auto-pilot. That of course reminded me that I forgot to get my parking ticket validated. So I headed back to the schnitzel place, digging my receipt out and prepping for a pleading explanation that I’m an idiot and begging him to still validate the ticket. Please don’t ask why I didn’t just have the apple dumpling girl do it. That would have made sense.
Returning to the schnitzel shop, I walked up to the counter guy and said “hey, do you validate here or what?” He looks at me with glazed over eyes and zero recognition that I was there only a short while ago, takes my ticket, and stamps it. Yeah, this guy checked out of his misery long ago.
On the way back to an exit from the Reading Terminal Market mosh pit, I spot a donut place that looks really good. Now of course I want a donut instead of an apple dumpling. There is a short line next to the register and I go to stand in it. That’s when the guy I’m standing next to goes “excuse me, the line ENDS here, it start over there.” The line stretched all the way back to Tara Haute. No donut for me.
As we enter the parking garage I did see a guy carrying a box of their donuts. I asked him if they were really worth standing in that line. He told me he didn’t know, he never had them before but they must be good if people were willing to wait in that line. He further said he only wanted one, but figured after that long of a wait he might as well get a dozen. It occurs to me if I ever open a donut place I’ll pay some people to stand in line and watch the suckers pour in.