Munch goes to Simmie's

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Munch has a question: What is it with the rest of the media's fascination with Twitter?

Now, Munch is no Luddite. Munch, who is beyond time, moved from the quill, to the ballpoint, to the roller ball with the rest of the world.

Munch owns a portable Royal manual typewriter, a Smith Corona electric, and is typing currently on an HP laptop that Munch will use to send this article by e-mail to the Post-Gazette. So, it is not like Munch eschews progress. Munch embraces progress. Munch even has texted Friends of Munch.

But really, how much can one proclaim to the rest of the world that is meaningful or profound if one has just 140 characters?

For instance, the Gettysburg Address was short, but not that short.

Even the most famous section of Emma Lazarus' sonnet, engraved on the Statue of Liberty -- "Give me your tired, your poor ..." -- is over the Twitter character limit by 67 characters.

But, Munch was wondering, given text messaging and Twittering and limitations on time that Pittsburgh's illegal taggers have when marking a building: how would Munch sum up a visit to Simmie's Restaurant & Lounge in Homewood.

Munch has come up with a few: Hard to get there but worth the travel; come for lunch but stay all day (the service was kind of slow); or home of the clam chowder of Munch's dreams. There is also the commentary on the style of cooking, which includes lots of frying and cream sauces: no wonder so many Pittsburghers have blocked arteries.

For Munch, Simmie's is not an everyday affair: it's a treat, and, if Munch stops eating when Munch is full (Munch hardly ever does that, being a lifetime member of the Clean Plate Club) then Munch could Twitter, "buy it for lunch, eat it for dinner" because you really get a lot of food.

But really, none of these short ditties can ever sum up Simmie's, because there is so much more. There's the classic style of Simmie's exterior, designed like so many restaurants of the '60s and '70s. There is a front entrance to the main dining room and a side entrance to the bar in back.

Since Simmie's sells seafood, Munch was naturally drawn to what was billed as the New England clam chowder, but was different than any clam chowder Munch has had in New England. While the chowder was in a cream base, like the traditional chowders of New England, this one had almost a creole flair. Just the slightest hint of spice. It was out of this world. Munch wished that instead of a cup ($2.49), Munch had ordered the bowl ($3.49).

Once the chowder was gone, Munch was ready to move on to the main course, for which Munch ordered broiled shrimp scampi ($6.99). Munch was thinking, 'It's broiled, how much butter could there be?' Oh my, Munch found out.

The shrimp was placed in a dish that was put into the broiler, loaded with butter with a bit of garlic, but not really just for taste. The lunch special was served with a salad, rice pilaf and a nice warm roll, but it took a long time to come out of the kitchen despite there being only about half a dozen tables occupied.

Co-worker of Munch (COM) hemmed and hawed about what to order. Would it be the shrimp linguini alfredo ($12.95) that is served with broccoli and a salad or the grilled Atlantic salmon ($12.95) that is marinated in lemon and then topped with an Oriental glaze? (Note the prices of Munch's lunch compared to COM's lunch and consider whose expense account this was coming out of.) COM could not decide. Munch knew what it would. COM always gets the linguini and that was what wound up on the table. And why not? The alfredo sauce was wonderfully rich without being overly thick. Munch snagged a couple of bites before COM boxed it up for dinner.

By the time the food arrived, however, Munch and COM were due back at the office, so dessert will have to wait until Munch gets there again.

When that happens it will be Munch who can't decide. Will it be the crunch peach cobbler or, and this sounds amazing, the cinnamon raisin pecan bread pudding topped with bourbon sauce. They are each just $3.50. COM can foot that bill.


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