“The Waiter Is More Authentic Than The Food”: The Best Of Gloria Russakov, Part 1.

Gloria Russakov was a humorous restaurant critic  for the Portland area and the author of Guide To Eating Out In Portland.  In 1978, Oregon Magazine published Gloria Russakov’s Guide To Oregon Restaurants, a delightfully witty and funny book that I turn to often in times of trouble.  Although, I’ve visited only a few of the restaurants in the book, I find her prose quite entertaining and fun to read.

In her introduction to the guide, she argues that abstinence in reference to delicious food is not the answer.  To prove her point, she states:  “Learning that this planet still houses cultures that figure bride-price by the pound,… and cellulite is merely a contemporary synonym for Rubinesque, I have evolved a food philosophy I can live with.  Deliciously.”  She affirms that great cuisine does reside in the state of Oregon, however, she warns that:  “Standing between you and gastronomic heaven is an almost impassable mountain range of boxed croutons.  Impenetrable rolls reheated in microwave ovens.  Cascades of iced tea made from a mix.  Dense forests of iceberg lettuce with shredded cabbage thorns,…  and the frozen bodies of thousands of chickens from Kiev who all died with their wing tips saluting.”

Gloria’s guide separates restaurants according to regions:  The Coast, Portland Area, Willamette Valley and South and East of the Cascades.  She uses the star system, and only one restaurant, The Pancake House in Portland, receives her perfect rating of four stars.  About Lucas Lodge, no star, in Agness, she has this to say:  “Spring water at the outdoor fountain by the porch is delicious.  One lucky child gets to ring the dinner bell. Water and bell are the highlights.  Especially, if it’s your kid,…”     Her 11/2 * rating of Valley River Inn from the Willamette Valley contains the following lines:  “Service is that delicious mix of professionalism mingled with college-boy innocence…  The waiter is more authentic than the food.”

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

3 Responses to “The Waiter Is More Authentic Than The Food”: The Best Of Gloria Russakov, Part 1.

  1. auntyuta says:

    Can you tell us more about the Pancake House in Portland?

    • Of course. “On an island wedged between Interstate 5 and 8600 SW Barbour Blvd. is an old white house with a sign saying ‘The Original Pancake House.’ The building has no golden arches, no life-size statues of founding fathers.
      Ordering is difficult; everything sounds good. Banana pancake, corn pancake, Swedish pancake, German pancake, coconut pancake… Then there are the waffles and eggs and breakfast meats. If you are looking for a new hobby, try working your way through the Pancake House menu.”

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