The Lake Murray Café might not realize this, but it wants it to be 1958 again. It really does. The sawed-off soda counter up front and the contoured swivel chairs that go with it are the giveaway. Another time and place, and we're talkin' cherry phosphates, saddle shoes and a jukebox full of Bobby Darin and Brenda Lee. Sadly, it's not to be. Brawny Formica tops have yielded to efficient wood veneers, and the jukebox is a shadow of its former self, replaced by an ugly black console that plays records without a needle. What's up with that?
But take heart. The menu says 'Delicious Homestyle Cooking,' and, the era notwithstanding, that's exactly what you get. Problem is, you'll spend more time deciding than eating, because the menu's a staggering 12 pages deep. Some of that's taken up with ad space-but 12 pages? Uh-huh, full of entries like the Texas hamburger ($7.49 for a half-pound patty), the Lumberjack hotcakes and sausage ($7.99, including three fresh eggs) and pork chops Vera Cruz ($9.99 for a plate the size of a regulation trampoline). All the fare isn't that heavy. I had a fluffy veggie omelet for $7.49, and the place serves wraps, seafood, salads and other lighter stuff. There's a kids menu, and beer and wine are available, too, along with a waiter who should be ticketed for oversmiling in a public place.
The Lake Murray Café is at 5465 Lake Murray Blvd., La Mesa; and it's open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every gosh-darn day. Phone is 619-433-0180. Not a Brenda Lee CD in the place-but check out the décor and use your imagination, and an era is reborn. In fact, Brenda isn't even dead yet. Hell, she's only 62, and she still tours. Maybe there's justice after all.