You may know Tom’s Restaurant as the diner frequented by Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer on Seinfeld, or you may know the name from the Suzanne Vega song, but for me it will be always be the roast chicken place near school.
Many years ago, when I was poor student at Barnard, the roast chicken dinner at Tom’s, which came with stuffing, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes (not from a mix!), a small soup (with saltines, 3 packages!), and salad seemed almost luxurious. So much food, so cheap (it’s $10 now, but used to be less than $7 back in the day), and at the time, so seemingly delicious. Since I graduated, and have since become somewhat less poor, I’ve been back twice. The first time, I was perplexed to find the chicken dry, not so fresh, and the mushy stuffing lacking any discernible ingredients besides bread and raisins. Perhaps it was a fluke. Yesterday, I was in the area, and found myself drawn back to Tom’s again, and yes, it was off. What happened to my dearly, beloved roast chicken? Most probably, nothing. I realize, you can’t trust a starving, stressed-out college student’s memories, even if they were my own.
Still, I’m sure I’ll return to Tom’s. Unfortunately, nostalgia is a bitch and a curse.