In mid-sixties Sacramento a restaurateur, exhibiting either grand generosity or manifest ignorance of human hunger, offered eat all you want prime rib lunch on Sundays. Two fast-growing adolescents and I, salivating after a hot afternoon of schoolyard baseball, scurried into an establishment that, a few years earlier, had presented Roger Maris the baseball he hit for his sixty-first home run. On the wall we looked at a photo of somber young Maris examining the ball as the restaurateur smiled at him.
Evidently, the glory era had receded, and we surveyed a dining room empty save for two old- timers, about age twenty-five, who wore towering white chef hats and surgical uniforms. The fashionable gentlemen greeted us when we stepped to the serving table where we considered nothing but two hunks just-roasted prime rib, and wielding long knives they sliced each of us slab of succulent meat that quickly disappeared. Back we went and said more prime rib please and no thanks mashed potatoes and vegetables.
By our fourth trip, servings had shrunk, and the big whiskery guys had lost their smiles. We bravely continued roundtrips until the sixth or seventh time when I alone approached the smaller sentinel, who sliced an ultra-thin, half-cracker piece of meat, extended it on a long knife, flipped the tidbit onto my plate, and said come back some other time.
After I reported this outrage, one friend said, like hell.
He grabbed his plate, marched through a still-empty dining room to the serving table, and as my other friend and I watched and tried to lip read as the server lectured a suddenly-silent lad who returned and reported we couldn’t have any more.
Bastards, we agreed.
I never returned nor heard of another place even pretending to offer unlimited prime rib.