When I walked into the Compass Cafe, my intention was to order a double cheeseburger.
But when I walked up to the grill area, I noticed a sandwich roughly the size of Nebraska.
“What is that?” I asked the two nice folks behind the counter.
“It’s a grilled meatloaf sandwich,” one of them said, pointing to a sign on the countertop that said the sandwich was the day’s special.
I’ve had meatloaf before, of course, and I’ve had cold meatloaf sandwiches, but I’ve never had a hot, grilled meatloaf sandwich.
It was time to take a stroll on the wild side.
“I’ll take it,” I said. “And some french fries.”
Then, in an effort to balance my fries and grilled meatloaf sandwich with some healthy food, I turned to the salad bar behind me and made myself a healthy salad. I also passed on dessert and opted for unsweetened iced tea.
I think I had health on my mind because the Compass Cafe is located inside Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage. The reason I was at the cafe is because Mary Riley sent an email to me asking that I have lunch there sometime.
I should point out that Mary sent me the email on May 2 and I didn’t drop by until Aug. 21, but for me, being three months behind schedule is well above average.
I have a system when it comes to emails. I read them every day and delete the ones that are trying to sell me things that I don’t need. Let’s be honest, if you have to read about something in an email, you probably don’t need to buy it.
Then I delete the emails from people offering to send me money. Because again, let’s face it, if someone sends you an email pretty much out of the blue offering to send you money, the opposite is probably going to happen.
Then I read the emails from the people who hate my column. I save those emails because it never hurts to be reminded that there are people out there who hate what you do for a living.
And finally, I read the emails from people who send me column ideas. If an email is from one of my editors, I delete it. Ha! That’s just an editor’s joke.
Nope, what I do is read and then save all of the emails from people sending me column ideas. Then I make a mental note to follow up on the column ideas, turn off my computer and forget to follow up.
See, the problem is, the day after I make a mental note to follow up on the column ideas, I get more emails and I make more mental notes. And then somehow, I blame Obama and my mental notes get erased.
But back to the Compass Cafe. Mary, in her email, said the cafe is the best kept secret in Carthage. I don’t know all of the best kept secrets in Carthage, but I would agree with Mary that the Compass Cafe is a pretty good secret.
You don’t normally expect hospital cafeterias to serve noteworthy food. At least, in years past you didn’t. The Joplin area is fortunate to have great hospital cafeterias located in both Mercy and Freeman hospitals. I know that because I have eaten in both. As a matter of fact, I’ve done stories for the Globe’s food page on both hospital cafeterias.
Mary asked me to stop by the Compass Cafe because a couple of years ago I did a column about a great double cheeseburger I had there. At the time, the cafeteria was not called the Compass Cafe. Mary said the cafeteria had recently been upgraded, which is why she wanted me to stop by and check it out.
The cafeteria is in the same place and pretty much looks the same, but the menu seemed a bit different. Mary, in her email, said the hospital had added a number of healthy food choices, including an expanded salad bar.
So, if you are looking for lunch, stop by the Compass Cafe. But don’t tell anybody else. It’s a secret.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.