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A Food Critic Reviews Buddy the Elf's New Restaurant

A world-famous restaurant reviewer ventured to the North Pole to try out Buddy the Elf’s sweet new eatery — here's what happened next!

Owen Cluer


New Line Cinema

As a premier restaurant critic, I have been all over the world and tasted all of what it has to offer. And let me tell you, the world offers some pretty weird things! I've had escargot in Paris, unripe tripe in Timbuktu, and on one occasion, green eggs and ham at the persistent behest of a small furry fellow.

So when I received an invitation to the grand opening of Buddy the Elf's North Pole restaurant, Buddies! I packed my parka and snow boots, and called a Slüber — the sleigh Uber — to see what that crazy elf was cooking up. 

The ride to the North Pole was delightful — no traffic (but a little bit of turbulence) — and Dasher, my Slüber driver, dropped me off right in front of Buddies!

The restaurant was strung with Christmas lights, and as I got closer, I noticed it seemed to be made entirely of gingerbread! My stomach grumbled. I hadn't eaten anything since leaving home, and there was no in-flight snack on my Slüber. 

I was just reaching for the candy-cane door handle when the doors flung open. 


New Line Cinema

"SANTA?!" Buddy cheered as he flung his arms around me. It was the warmest and squeeziest hug I'd ever felt. 

"Buddy, that's not Santa!" Jovie, Buddy’s wife, called. "You can't just surprise everyone who comes through the door thinking they're Santa. That's the fifteenth time today!"

Buddy put me down gently. "But when it is Santa, I'll be ready!" Jovie rolled her eyes and smiled. 

"So, if you're not Santa, who are you?" Buddy asked. 

"I'm the restaurant critic," I said. "You wanted me to review your food." 

"YES!" Buddy shouted again. He grabbed my arm and dragged me to a table made of peppermint and sat me down on a large gumdrop. Then, Buddy reached up his fur-trimmed sleeve and pulled out a menu. 

"We make sure everything on our menu satisfies the four main food groups," he explained.

"You mean protein, dairy, vegetables..."

"No, silly!" said Buddy. "Candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup!"

I looked down at the menu. The top said, "Welcome to Buddies! Home of the Famous 'Spaghetti  à la Syrup.”

I realized then I wouldn't have to worry about boring old brussels sprouts. 

"I guess I can't turn down the special. Spaghetti à la Syrup it is!"

"Great choice!" said Buddy. "That's the best thing on the menu. And also, the only thing!" I glanced back at the menu and realized that was true. "Do you want that regular or...the Works?'"

"What are the 'works'?"

"Ooh!! The works comes with maple syrup AND sprinkles AND marshmallows—"


"AND chocolate sauce—"

"Oh my..."

"AND M&Ms — "


"AND chocolate pop-tarts!"

Buddy was bobbing up and down with excitement. 

"I guess I'll take it!" I said. 


New Line Cinema

"And a Coke?" Buddy added. 

"Yes, please, just a small one."

“Small, sure.” Buddy winked big. “While you wait, visit the salad bar! It’s gonna be Santa’s favorite part!”

I thanked Buddy and excused my way to the salad bar through crowds of elves just getting off a shift at The Shop and hankering for some Hershey’s. Ahead of all the candy, I thought having a little salad wouldn’t be a bad idea...

Except the only green thing at Buddy’s salad bar were the M&Ms. It was all candy — just troughs and troughs of chocolate kisses and candy corn and sour gummies and malted milk balls. Where the dressing would be at the end, were different types of syrup, from maple to butter pecan. 

“You can’t eat it with your eyes,” one of the elves scoffed behind me. “Get movin’ or get outta line. Some of us tinker for a living.” 

I apologized to the affronted elf and helped myself to some of the green M&Ms; this way, if anyone asked if I’d had any greens, I wouldn’t be lying when I said yes!

I returned to my table just as Buddy arrived with a massive silver platter overflowing with spaghetti and candy as well as a full 2-liter bottle of cola. 

"I thought I'd asked for the small?" I gasped. 

"This IS the small!" Buddy said, plopping the platter and the soda in front of me with a syrupy splat.

The plate looked like a pasta volcano exploded with candy, chocolate, and molasses instead of magma.

"Bon appetite!" said Buddy. 

"Appétit," I corrected

"Gesundheit!" Buddy offered and walked off. 


New Line Cinema

I looked down at the steaming plate of Spaghetti à la Syrup. Once, in Paris, I learned from a talented chef (who just happened to be a rat) how to use my senses to appreciate food. I closed my eyes and let the strange, conflicting aromas wash over me. The starchy spaghetti, the sweet syrups, the vanilla of the marshmallows. My stomach grumbled again.

When I opened my eyes, Buddy’s smiling face was inches from mine. “So do ya like it?” I gasped and almost fell backward. 

“Buddy! Let him eat,” Jovie called over. 

I picked up my fork and curled some of the sacchariferous spaghetti around it, making sure to get a heap of syrup and candy. I lifted the pungent concoction to my mouth and took a bite. 

Reader, I saw stars. 

The immediate blast of sugar nearly knocked me off my seat. It was like riding a roller coaster of flavor right into a cement truck of chocolate fudge icing. And it was a festival of textures, from the smooth, slimy spaghetti to the crisp, crumby pop-tart, to the hard, cracking candies and soft, gooey marshmallows!

It was, by far, the weirdest thing I had ever tasted. 



It wasn’t bad. 

I did need something to wash it down with, so I grabbed the giant bottle of Coke and started drinking it down. And down. And down. 

“That’s the spirit!” I heard Buddy cheer. 


New Line Cinema

When all the soda was gone I could feel my stomach start to bubble, and as I opened my mouth to speak a massive, gingerbread-house shaking burp erupted from me. Elves everywhere fell off their gumdrop stools. Waiters tripped and sent sticky plates of Spaghetti à la Syrup flying across the room to splatter on walls, floors, and shocked faces.

But Buddy just clapped. “You did it! All in one gulp!”

“I’m so sorry!” I apologized, looking around. “I feel like a cotton-headed ninny muggins!”

There was a gasp from the restaurant. Buddy’s face fell for the first time. He put a hand on my shoulder. “You’re not a cotton-headed ninny’re my buddy! And that was the best darn burp I’ve ever seen — ” Buddy leaned in, “ — and I’ve seen Santa drink a gallon of eggnog,” he whispered. 

After I helped Buddy, Jovie, and the elves clean up the restaurant, Buddy came back with a big cup of what looked like coffee. “But not just any coffee,” said Buddy. “It’s the World’s Best Cup of Coffee!” He pointed to a neon sign to that effect, blinking above an old, leaky coffee maker that gurgled and sputtered. “My friends in New York let me borrow it,” said Buddy, eyes watering. “It was an honor.” 

I went to take a sip when Buddy stopped me. “Hold on! One last ingredient.” From his other sleeve he pulled out a small bottle of maple syrup. He unscrewed it and poured the entire bottle into the steaming cup of coffee. “Just ‘cause it’s the best, doesn’t mean it can’t get a little better.”

I agreed, and took a sip. My eyes twitched. Over Buddy’s shoulder I could see Jovie shaking her head. Listen to me readers, if you ever happen to find yourself holding the “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” make sure you have some syrup on hand to make it...well...just a little bit better. I thanked Buddy. 


New Line Cinema

At the end of the night, once Buddies! was tidied up and I had ordered my Slüber home, I walked out into the cold winter night with Buddy and Jovie. I thanked them for having me and told them my review would be as sweet as their food. 

“I think that’s my ride,” I said pointing to a glowing red dot in the sky that was getting closer. 

“Ooh lucky,” said Jovie. “Rudolph has a five star rating.”

Just as Rudolph landed, I noticed a large red-cloaked figure sitting in the sleigh. He stood and climbed down. 

“I hope you’re still open,” came the man’s booming voice. “I’ve had a very long night.”

“SANTA!!” Buddy cried, jumping up and down in excitement. (Again.)

Santa put his arm around Buddy and Jovie as Buddy began telling him all about their night at the restaurant. I waved goodbye from my Slüber and flew home. 

In conclusion, dear reader, if you ever find yourself in the North Pole, make sure to stop into Buddies! for some scrumptious Spaghetti à la Syrup, the World’s (least) Best Cup of Coffee, and quality time with Buddy, the most effusive elf anywhere from the North Pole to New York!

Buddies! ★★★★★ 

5 Candy Cane Lane

North Pole

Now Available on Slüber Eats


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