“IT’S like Cheers with boobs,” longtime patron Stuart Irving said about No. 5 Orange, in a story last week in the Globe and Mail.
Go ahead and pretend you don’t know what No. 5 Orange is, and I will unnecessarily explain that it’s a strip club in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I haven’t been there either, but, like you, I’m delighted to learn that it has improved its menu to meet local standards. The one thing that had been keeping me away from a booty-shaking good time was my fear that non-organic romaine would contaminate my Caesar salad.
According to the Globe’s Marsha Lederman, Irving, former chef/co-owner of Cobre Kitchen and now of Cuchillo, is acting as a menu consultant in hopes of turning the exotic entertainment emporium into a foodie destination that might attract neighbourhood lawyers and firefighters.
Remember when Playboy magazine, in a somewhat successful bid for respectability, used to feature articles by writers who could string a few decent words together, fellows like Vladimir Nabokov and W. Somerset Maugham? Perhaps this is the same idea. Club visitors will be able to tell their disgusted wives and daughters, “Calm down! I only went there because our favourite food blogger said No. 5 Orange’s dill pickle chicken wings are free range, and they’re a ‘Nirvanic juxtaposition of sour and salty.’”
Curious? I went to No. 5 Orange in my imagination so you don’t have to, taking my invisible digital recorder. Here’s what I allege went down.
(SCENE: A dark strip club, around noon. Enter an OLD BOOT (your fearless reporter) in tattered shorts, an oversized T-shirt and flip-flops. A curvy HOSTESS in an abbreviated skirt, 6” heels and a gravity defying pop-top sidles over and greets her.)
Hostess: Welcome in, Hon. Are you pickin’ up your son or your husband? Don’t worry, it’s his first time here, he just stumbled in with some friends, and had a few too many beverages. I’ve never seen the guy before. Which one is he?
Old Boot: Actually, I’m here to sample your new menu. I read that it might rival the one at Portland’s popular vegan strip club, Casa Diablo. Please get me a seat far from the gynecology lab.
OB: I’d like to sit away from the stage.
Hostess: Oh, don’t worry, ma’am. You’d put all the gents off their entertainment by reminding them of their moms. We’ll just seat you over at this dark table here. I’ll get you a flashlight for the menu. Want some earplugs?
OB (stuffily): No -- I’m not that far gone! By the way, I saw a sign in the dumpster outside that said “Fresh Meat.” Is your meat no longer fresh?
Hostess: Oh no, that was a sign the management had posted outside, advertising for dancers for amateur night. Somebody raised a stink and they threw out the sign. The real meat’s still fresh.
(She seats the OLD BOOT at a table well behind the packed tables of LAWYERS, FIREFIGHTERS, BUTCHERS, BAKERS and CANDLESTICK MAKERS, who are all tucking in to ice water and large salads containing pea shoots and cranberries. Bon Jovi is playing at a high volume. The HOSTESS serves the OLD BOOT a Diet Coke “on the house” and disappears. All of a sudden, the HOSTESS reappears on stage in an entirely different outfit that seems to be made purely of linked beer tabs. Whoops and whistles begin as the soundtrack plays I’m Sexy And I Know It. The OLD BOOT glances up, recognizes the HOSTESS on-stage, and gestures impatiently for a menu. The HOSTESS pulls it from behind her back and struts down the stage toward the OLD BOOT, throwing it at her like a Frisbee. More whoops from the crowd when the OLD BOOT catches it with her teeth.)
OB (glancing at it and shouting at the HOSTESS): How do I know these are wild sea prawns in the satay kabobs, not farmed?
Hostess (bent in half with her wriggling rear end pointed elsewhere): We’re into sustainable seafood. I’m hoping we get the Ocean Wise designation because I love all God’s creatures.
OB (shouting): Can I substitute organic goat cheese for the mozzarella in the spicy marinara meatball sandwich?
Hostess (on her back doing hip thrusts at the lawyers): I’ll check with the kitchen for you.
Drunken Lawyer (yelling): Hey, Honey, I’ll get you off, no matter what the charge!
(Lawyers guffaw, clink their water glasses.)
Hostess (rolls her eyes): Frickin’ salad eaters.
OB (shouting): What’s your favourite thing on the menu?
Hostess (now gyrating in the direction of the BUTCHERS and BAKERS, who holler approval): I recommend the Woodland Smokehouse Pulled Pork Poutine, or the Japanese Wasabi Dog with shredded nori and ponzu mayonnaise.
OB (shouting): I read online that this place is suspected to be a brothel. Any truth to rumours that there are grosser-sounding things on the menu here than the vegan chili dog?
Hostess (fed up): You gonna order, or what? FYI, for $2 you can replace the potato chips with sea salt skinny fries.