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Doug Lieblich

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Holy Smokes: A Visit to God's Rotisserie Chicken Restaurant

Posted: 08/26/11 08:45 PM ET

Very few people believe in God nowadays, so you can imagine my thrill when I finally got reservations for 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 this 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 stands upon.

We're all familiar with the origin story of Holy Smokes; by this point, the tale has grown to biblical proportions. After their liberation in Egypt, the Jewish people wandered a sprawling desert for forty years. Seeing starvation looming and hope fading, God sustained the Chosen people with manah -- a gushy bread-like substance -- to fall from the sky. Before long the Jews grew tired of eating the same manah crap every day, and fell to their knees beseeching unto Him: "Oh Lord, Creator of all things, that's seriously the best you can do? Tasteless carbs?" Lightning struck, The Lord heard their prayers, and the desert rained mesquite barbeque chicken -- pre-dead and glazed -- over the Jews for forty days and forty nights with Happy Hour 5-7pm Monday through Friday. Rabbi Akibah took one bite of the divine bounty, and proposed that God set up a restaurant where families might convene and supplicate praise onto his Name while enjoying shrimp-avocado tacos and flame-broiled hanger steak fresh off the grill. God agreed, for He favored any method of providing monotheists with His rich, one-of-a-kind taste. Plus, the restaurant would be a staunch competitor to Satan's burgeoning empire known as Applebee's. The rest, as they say, is unsubstantiated yet fanatically 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 to 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 of restaurant rules, which read 'Thou shalt not order substitutions. Also, no murdering.' A better dining choice is the Parmesan chicken, as the freshly created vegetables and lemony mix of carrots and capers provide a satisfying zest to even the most heathen appetites. 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 persecuted for centuries, but there was no innovation, no risk, to the menu at Holy Smokes. Compared to God's other works: oceans, rainbows, human free will, his entree choices paled in comparison. I know to judge not lest ye be judged, but Adam's spare ribs were predictable and 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 and all earthly matter, but his restaurant sucks. He clearly seems more focused on selling his bottled rock water, and promoting his new competitive cooking show, Obey, Obey, Obey My 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. I can assure you that this dinner at Holy Smokes will be my Last Supper.

 

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