Argyle Tempeh


God damn hipster restaurants with their god damned hipster food and their cutesy names for their cutesy dishes. Poison! Societal Poison! That’s what this place is! God! Ten minutes sitting on repurposed barrels and not a waiter in sigh- Finally! a waiter.

“Oh, welcome,” they say, as if I have a choice to be here. “I’m your dining facilitator, Graysen, note that’s with an A and an E. In that order. We do not use menus here. Instead, we present for you a dining itinerary with three experiences on it. You will not pay for the experiences. Instead, there is a suggested donation of $40 per seat.”

God damn hipster restaurants-

“Your food stylist, Moonstoneshadow, has prepared for you three different locally sourced dishes: A deconstructed Gerald salad, Zucchini spaghetti ala Mace, and finally Argyle Tempeh served with an avocado black garlic thousand island aioli.”

-with their god damned hipster food-

“The animals that have given up their freedom for your meal are Gerald, Mace, and Argyle. Gerald was an antibiotic free, five-year-old hen from the Jamisdale farm where they grew up happy and healthy wandering the vast fields. Mace was a grass-fed, free-rage, gluten-free, organic cow, prepared in a paleo-friendly style. Argyle was a puffer-fish, who lived their life roaming the vast Atlantic Shelf and caught in a humane, low-energy style and delivered to us through a fair-trade network and-”

– and their cutesy names for their cutesy dishes! Like I give a shit where my food came from, so long as it tastes good. Why did Arsonay drag me out to this place? And what’s with the décor? Taxidermy and black and white photos of spoons and half eaten food? Ugh. Fine. Fine. Calm down. You’re doing a good thing accompanying her here. Smile. It’s just one meal.

“-what would you like paired with meal: bitters or tonic water?”

Wait, shit, were they talking to me?

“Uhhhhhhhhhh, you got any coffee?” I ask. Arsonay raises her eyebrows in disbelief. Crap baskets. I guess that’s not a question you ask here. Greysan, or was it Graysen, looks mildly peeved but that could just be their vertical bridge piercing.

“Unfortunately, tonight we only have bitters or tonic water. Anything else would sour the experience.”

Shit on a brick. “Ok. Then I’ll take the tonic water without the tonic.” I flash a smile and fight the urge to scream. Graysen walks away and I turn to Arsonay, who has been playing with the candle in the center of the stump that acts as our table.

“Do you visit here often, cuz?” I ask, warming my face up with another smile.

“Nah. It just popped up in the last couple weeks or so but it sounded so quaint that I had to bring you here on your visit.”

“Oh. Joy.” I say, my confidence in this place waning even more than it already was.

An hour and two dis-, I mean experiences, later and I’m finally finishing the salad. As much as I hate to admit it, the food has been pretty damn good. Graysen appears, two short spears in hand, their tips flat and angled towards us. They take away the now-empty mason jar, replacing it with the spear. They also take the chessboard that experience two came on. On the spear is the tempeh in all its soy block glory. I take one bite of Argyle and suddenly the fish is living up to his name. Arsonay, the spears, the weird-ass taxidermy and black and white images of half eaten food – all are now fitted with a brand new brown and green diamond layer.

Arsonay is screaming something. I can’t tell what it is but I can tell it’s not good.

“Hey. Asshat,” a voice says. I look around to try to pinpoint it.

“Down here, chuckle fuck!” I look down at the spear, which is melting just a tiny bit, and see a whole puffer-fish smoking a cigar. I’d rub my eyes but I can’t seem to move my arms or legs.

“Yeah, the toxin’ll do that. But hey, look on the bright side,” the fish says, floating in front of me, “at least it’s not enough to kill ya.”

I want to yell at the fish but it’d do no good. I’m no longer in the restaurant. Instead, I’m under the sea, staring at schools and schools of silver fish. They’re all so pretty under the sparkling sun, surrounded by all sorts of creatures; pink coral, Acadian redfish, yellow-finned and green-finned tuna, not to mention the vast expanses of blue and black sea. Then, out of fucking nowhere, Argyle is back, but this time he’s suspended in the mouth of a Wobbegong shark. He speaks again, the cigar in his mouth still lit.

“Yeah, not scientifically accurate but what the hey, it’s your hallucination.”

The Wobbegong, a toothless, flat kind of beast, just swims away and I’m left floating. That doesn’t last long as I’m suddenly jerked back to the ground.

I wake up and I’m in the back of an ambulance, the sirens getting ready to murder my eardrums. Arsonay is sitting next to me wringing her hands. I clear my throat and the medic begins doing whatever it is that medics do while Arsonay starts to apologize.

“I’ll be fine,” I tell her, “but next time, I’m picking the restaurant.”

Elias Rosner is a Senior English/Creative Writing Major here at Goucher. When he's not stalking the Goucher woods seeking serenity, he's writing feverishly in the hopes something interesting will be said. He's always on the lookout for a good puzzle or story and is still not used to writing about himself in the third person.

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