Very few people believe in God nowadays, so you can imagine my thrill at the prospect trying out his new restaurant. The grand re-opening of God’s family-friendly rotisserie diner, Holy Smokes, is His newest endeavor and latest foray into the culinary theater. As a human, and thus, one of the Chef’s previous creations, I was anxious to scope out the hip new eatery. Unfortunately, style certainly trumps substance, and my appetite originally wet with anticipation, was left as dry as the Egyptian Desert the diner was built on.
We’re all familiar with the origin story of Holy Smokes; by this point, the tale has grown to biblical proportions. After their liberation from bondage in Egypt, the Jewish people wandered a sprawling desert for forty years. With starvation looming and hope fading fast, God sustained the Chosen people by causing manaha gushy bread-like substance to fall from the sky. Before long, the Jews tired of the tedium of eating manah day in and day out, beseeched unto Him: “Oh Lord, Creator of all things, please bequeath upon us some friggin variety.” Lightning struck and the desert rained mesquite barbeque chicken—pre-dead and glazed—over the Jews for forty days and forty nights with Happy Hour from 5-7pm Monday through Friday. Rabbi Akibah took one bite and proposed that God set up a restaurant where families might convene and supplicate praise onto his Name while enjoying shrimp-avacado tacos and hanger steak fresh off the grill. God consented, for He favored any method to provide monotheists with His rich, one-of-a-kind taste. Plus, the restaurant would prove to be a staunch competitor to Satan’s burgeoning empire known as Applebee’s. The rest, as they say, is unsubstantiated yet devoutly followed history.
To say the restaurant’s patrons were eclectic is an understatement. With priests, deacons, Chasidic rabbis, Mormons, and the Pope filling the tables, I felt as if I had entered the set-up of a joke from the 1920s. Upon entering Holy Smokes, you’ll hear mesmerizing melodies of Gregorian chants while your nose is delighted by the fresh hickory smoke of rotating chicken. According to advertisements, the wood fire stove boasts an Eternal Flame.
Gaining my bearings, I sat at an open booth and found myself ambivalent by the decorum. The papyrus scroll menus were a nice touch, but the enormous blue Cadillac crashing through one of the walls was both tacky and clichéd. The food was less than a revelation. Despite the strong start of sweet potato fries, God’s Burgers, were oily and without taste. Even the service lacked pizzazz. Despite my allergy to tomatoes, the waitress directed my attention to a stone tablet, which read ‘Thou shalt not order substitutions.’ A better choice is the Parmesan chicken, as the freshly created vegetables and lemony mix of carrots and capers provide a satisfying zest. The dessert, a fully-grown bush simply on fire, was perhaps the worst moment of the meal.
I was dismayed to see the great Almighty resting on his laurels. Sure, these were old favorites—cuisines behind ideals which people had been ruthlessly tortured and murdered for centuries, but there was no innovation, no risk to the menu at Holy Smokes. Compared to His other works: oceans, human free will, the space-time continuum, jalapeño crab cakes, the flavor paled in comparison. I know not to judge not lest ye be judged, but Adam’s spare ribs were a predictable convention and a bit overly reliant on cilantro. And I don’t care what the posters say; Papa Moses’s three cheese ravioli is not “from the old country.” Within the first few bites of both dishes, I knew God was phoning it in.
God may be the architect of life, but he clearly seems more focused on selling his bottled rock water and his new cooking competitive reality show, Obey, Obey, ObeyMy Will, than managing his diner. When I dine out, I’ll stick to Hari Vishnu’s curry, Allah’s hummus, or Buddha’s huevos rancheros. After this review, I can assure you that my dinner at Holy Smokes will be the Last Supper.