Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Festus, MO

Why We Went Back:
We were planning to go to Pevely to try out Hillbilly’s, a place that had been recommended by a fan. However Angel did not feel qualified to try out a new place this weekend, she’d suffered an incident and was afraid that it would cloud her reasoning abilities.
I had been outside shoveling the driveway, again. Saturday morning arrived with four brand new inches of the stuff. I had given up on clearing the entire driveway after the icing we got earlier in the week. All I was trying to do at this point was to clear the uppermost point of the driveway. I’d been parking my car up there since Monday anyhow. I moved (at a crawl) Angel’s 4WD Trailblazer up there Saturday morning once I’d cleared enough to make room for the big beast. Coming indoors after noon I found Angel sitting on the couch holding a hand over one eye. She pulled it away revealing swelling and redness. “That looks like it hurts.” I consoled her.
“It does.” She replied.
I didn’t ask what happened, Angel has a history of unusual accidents. It was enough for me to know that she’d injured her eye without needling her about the details. She explained anyhow.“It’s a paper cut.” She started.
I just looked at her. She eventually continued.
“I was pulling a paper off the shelf above the desk. It was under a pile of stuff.”
At this point I was suppressing a sympathetic giggle.
She went on. “It was stuck, so I yanked on it and it did a whiplash sort of thing right into my eye.”
Angel is no more accident prone than anyone else, it’s just that her accidents are typically more comical. This leads to embarrassing trips to the Urgent Care Center and having to explain about the coconut, the curling iron, and now, the paper cut to the eye. So she was not feeling up to trying a new place, so we agreed on a family favorite, Bandana’s.
The Place:
Like everywhere else in the region, stuck between high, dirty and slowly dissolving parking-lot snow banks. The lot was only half full. The country music blared from that same, awful outdoor bullhorn-ish speaker. The music is about the only thing about this place I would change. Some people actually like country music, so I hear, so I suppose it’s appreciated by someone.
The staff’s uniform is jeans and black logoed tee shirts, all the workers in the front are young and female. We were taken to a booth in the back and introduced to our waitress. She was tall, surprisingly tall. She was also slender, surprisingly slender. I would guess she was nearly six feet, and perhaps eighty pounds dripping wet. She was very nice and professional though, I’m certainly not one to speak ill of the freakishly tall and slender. I imagine being that way, like being any other way, has its advantages and disadvantages. She handed us menus, took our drink requests, turned sideways and disappeared.(just kidding)
The booth was in a corner, and seemed to be designed for a taller person. In order to hover over my unremarkable tea, I had to scoot up to the edge of the big seat. It felt kind of like something designed for Peewee’s Playhouse.
The table had the requisite iron pipe and lumber paper towel holder. Next to that was a six-holed beer carton which held the six house sauces, cute.
The Food:
I thought I wanted a sandwich. I’d eaten a decent lunch as I was bulking up for a day of manual labor, so I didn’t need a lot of food. So a sandwich would be about right. Then I remembered the Texas Toast. If you order a sandwich, you don’t get the two chunks of the absolute best Texas toast in the hemisphere. So I changed my mind. They have several combinations of dinners, you just choose your two or three meat choices, add a couple of sides, and you’ve got a meal. I selected pulled pork and turkey with fries and coleslaw.Angel asked for the ribs and turkey with green beans and potato salad. Adam went for Turkey, beef, fries and corn.
The drinks were delivered, Angel continued to cup her swollen eye, Adam needled her about how she could possibly get a paper cut there. To him, her story simply didn’t seem to hold up. I didn’t question it any further, if what she described was not what actually happened then the real story must be really bizarre and embarrassing.
The food arrived. The first thing I did was try the coleslaw. It had been several weeks since I’d had decent slaw and I was curious as to whether the technology to make a decent batch had somehow been lost to mankind. It was smooth, sweet and creamy with a hint of a bite. Perfect. My faith in mankind had been restored. Next was the toast, two fist-sized chunks, buttery and tanned to a delightful crunch. The fries were good, the meat was awesome. They smoke their own meats, all of them, for several hours. They apply only a dry rub on them during the slow cooking process and the lengthy method really pays off. The meat is tender, smoky, and delicious. Among the six table sauces I chose my favorite, Chicago Sweet. I glopped a lot of it on the turkey, not so much on the pork. I could tell from the start that I’d be taking much of it home for a really, really good Sunday sandwich.
Angel tore through her ribs like Fred Flintstone. She loved the glazing and didn’t mind the work of digging every edible morsel from the bones. Adam’s food disappeared quite quickly. Between the fries and the bread I was filling up fast. I decided that this was okay, I’d eat the stuff that doesn’t travel/reheat so well, and get a box for the meat. There was enough left for a couple of average sized sandwiches. Reheated with some onion and bell pepper Sunday’s sandwiches would be superb.
Our tall, rail thin sliver of a waitress appeared a couple of times to refill our drinks in a timely manner and to ask if we wanted fried donut holes. We declined and asked for a couple of boxes. Angel wadded up the twelve or so sticky paper towels she had used as face and finger mops, and we left.
The bill came in at around fifty bucks, more than the little diners we frequent, but not near as much as a chain. The payoff is fantastic food and plenty of it. The next time we go I’ll probably pass on the fries and get potato salad or baked beans instead, that way I’ll have more room for the meat. The service was exceptional, prompt, efficient and not overly fussy. Except for the music the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable.
By Sunday morning Angel’s eye was puffy and swollen. I drove her to the urgent care where we found out that she had indeed scratched her eyeball. Not too seriously though, she was given prescriptions for eye drops and something else, certainly nothing to cheer her up. She spent the day with a warm compress, not whining too much. Out of sympathy every time I talked to her I closed one eye and crinkled up my face. I advised Adam to do the same. Nothing makes a person in misery feel better than making fun of them.

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