Remember about 154 years ago, when then-Vice President Dan Quayle took a perfectly good word and mercilessly stomped it into the earth? He thought he was the final arbiter in any and all spellings of the word “potato,” telling a Trenton, N.J., schoolboy to slap an “e” on the end during a spelling bee. The kid, of course, had it right all along—and Quayle was left with his member in his hand, making matters worse by revealing that the error was contained on a flashcard he used to moderate the event.
To my knowledge, the ex-veep's never been to the Potato Shack Café in Encinitas. But now that he knows better, he'll recognize the sign for what it is—the welcome mat to an eatery whose owners at least know how to spell the name of their stock in trade. Reds, whites, russets, sweets, mashed, baked, hand-cut, seasoned, plain, smothered in whatever topping you care to name (and some you don't): This place is on a first-name basis with any spudly dish you can think of, with none so disarming as the potato patties with applesauce ($7.70). Deep-fried and naturally seasoned, these go down spectacularly well and make a killer complement to the beer-battered onion rings ($6.75). Chicken, burgers and salads are on tap at about the same price, but this place lives and dies by its creativity with potatoes, and it shows.If Dan wants to visit, he needs but sally forth to 20 W. I St. in Encinitas between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekends (the number is 760-436-1282). Remember, though, that this is the guy who once declared that Republicans “understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.” From the sound of things, he may have other plans.