Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Mrs. Mingus and I had a craving for muffins. I’d recently made beer muffins with graham flour. Delicious. We wanted to see how they compared to Võru’s finest muffins, so we drove to Kohvik Muffin, on Freedom Street. In a beautifully restored house, the first thing you notice upon entering is a cake stand. No muffins. The bar is covered in a selection of homemade pastries. No muffins.

“Do you have muffins?” I asked the waitress, Krista.
“No, never? Or you’re just out at the moment?”
—We’ve had them a couple times. Why? she asked.
“Because your place is called Muffin.”
—Right, but we’re not named after muffins.

She said this in a tone that suggested, “You should magically know this.” Magic muffins. Now that would be a great gimmick for a bad restaurant. Pass them out to all customers before their food arrives, and people will enjoy their meals! They’ll get the munchies, too, and order more food. Great idea especially if you serve cakes, like Café Muffin.

The menu shows breakfast is served all day. They also have a section titled “Steaks”. These aren’t your typical steaks, however. They have cheese schnitzel steak, chicken steak, trout steak and pasta steak.

“What kind of steaks do you have?” I asked.
—We don’t have steak here, she replied matter-of-factly. I should have magically known. I could really go for a magic muffin.
“Because your menu has steak, but there’s no steak.”
—We have pizza.
“Oh.” I looked at the four pizzas on the menu. Chicken, something else, something else, and minced meat. “What kind of meat is it?” I enquired about the last one.
—Minced meat.
“Right, but what kind?”
—Minced meat. She looked at me like I was stoned.
“Beef, pork, mixed, chicken, turkey…?”

Naturally. Minced pork is an internationally favorite topping for pizza. I asked more about the pizza. Krista assured me everything was made from scratch in the kitchen, including the crust, and that their pizzas were huge, for at least two people. I was intrigued. I ordered the chicken pizza.

Mrs. Mingus ordered the daily special. Chicken and potatoes. In my mind, I ate several magic muffins. This made me hungry enough to eat a two-person pizza, and I would enjoy anything they served me. Mrs. Mingus’s food came first. It was amazing! I was completely in love with the wise selection of Santa Maria seasonings. The potatoes had potato seasoning, the chicken had poultry seasoning. The peas and green beans mixed in were fresh from a Bonduel can.

Ten minutes later my pizza was served. “Enjoy!” Krista said.
—Thank you.
“Would you like some ketchup and mustard as well?” I looked at her. Yes, she was talking to me.
“Ketchup and mustard? For your pizza?” The poor girl was just being polite and trying to do her job well. And she was.
—No, but thank you. I nearly gave myself a bloody lip I was biting down so hard in an effort not to laugh.

Smothered in athlete’s cheese, my pizza was perfect food for the munchies. I was jealous I hadn’t ordered the daily special, but luckily the pizza had the exact same chicken on it. Pizza Santa Maria, it should be called. Or maybe Pizza Santa Maria di Heinz, or di Felix, to describe the sauce as well. When you’re as stoned as I wanted to be at that moment, ketchup on pizza is exactly what you want. With mustard.

Luckily my kids ate the pizza. They finished it in a couple minutes, wasn’t so big after all. And as I had had so many magic muffins, I was still hungry. “Let him eat cake,” Little Mingus told her mother. We each got a slice, and I ordered one of the homemade pastries, a maple syrup thing topped in sliced almonds. I have to say this was delicious, regardless of how stoned I thought I was.

The cake and pies were lime, orange and jam. The jam couldn’t be identified, but it was red. Strawberry? Raspberry? Don’t know. Wasn’t too impressed. The orange pie tasted very good for the first couple bites, but it left an aftertaste that stayed with me for a few hours. Orange-flavored burps. Not very pleasant. The lime pie was very good. I make a lemon pie, and this was very similar. However, I could clearly recognize the green colored sugar available in any shop. That specific shade. Real lime should be more than enough to color it green. Was anything here in Muffin actually made from scratch, and not assembled from pre-processed food additives?

A good friend of mine has also eaten here. To quote him, “Muffin’s warm food blew chunks.” My response: “You just have to be stoned to enjoy it.” This place was packed, after all. It filled up right after we arrived. There was a constant line at the counter to order. They all magically knew all about the steaks on the menu. They were regulars, they liked their ketchup, and they wanted more. Each table had three or four adults sitting in complete silence, patiently waiting the twenty minutes for their meals to be assembled in the factory kitchen. They had all eaten their magic muffins before sitting down and staring at the table.


Ülle said...

Thank you for your twisted reportages about eating out! Although I live in Tartu, I share almost the same feelings about all the show.
Looking forward your expansion of travel area:).

Mingus said...

"Twisted reportages" ha ha ha! More Tartu stuff is coming very soon.

notsu said...

I wish I could remember a place where I once eat in Võru - it looked very unpretentious- extremely so - more like a söökla than anything else - but vegetables were organically grown in the farm that ownes the joint. And it was cheapest place I've ever seen. Maybe it was Talupood or Talusöökla or something like this.