Man it was hot, ninety seven degrees, humidity hovering around ninety percent. The last thing we wanted was something heavy. Adam was the chooser and he chose well. Kim serves big meals and small ones.
Across from the tracks at the bottom of the hill, across the parking lot that used to serve as a mini-bank, pretty much a single teller/drive-through affair where Angel did most of the banking that required transferring actual bits of paper. It closed a month or so ago, and Angel has been fuming about it ever since.
When we got to Kim’s there were no other customers, it was not quite five P.M., so we’d beat the evening crowd. We sat down in our usual booth, after a short squabble about who sat where. A gentleman arrived with menus just as we’d sorted it out. He asked about drinks, and we replied, tea, tea, Pepsi.
I know, I know, tea at Kims, like I was just begging for trouble. When the gentleman delivered the drinks he made sure to say “I brought you some extra ice, the tea is fresh-brewed and still warm.” I kid you not, he upped the ante.
Without saying as much we were looking for something different, not that the stuff we’d had before was bad, quite the opposite in fact. But there’s really only so much one can say about an excellent BLT or burger.
Kim came out warily, cautiously, yet friendly. We called up our orders.
I ordered the walleye fish sandwich with fries (crinkle-style) instead of chips. Angel called for the ribs, Adam the chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn. With her ribs Angel asked for mashed potatoes and the house salad.
The salad was delivered promptly, Adam snagged a crouton before the bowl hit the table. Adam likes croutons, often the bagged ones we usually have around the house end up as his snacks more so than as salad topping.
Kim’s croutons are light, golden, with a slight crunch. Adam likes them okay but he likes the dark rubbery ones at Ruby Tuesday’s better. I dug in for the story. “So do you like these croutons?’ I asked, he nodded. “But not as much as Ruby’ Tuesdays?” I probed. He squinted and attacked. “You’re just looking for something to write about, you don’t really care if I like these croutons better than others!”
I wrote that down.
“I’m just looking for critique points, that’s why we’re here.”
“Yeah, but you’re going to make an issue about me and croutons like it's a big deal.”
“Hey, you don’t have to answer, I already know enough about you and croutons to write three paragraphs about it, I just like hearing your opinion.”
He grunted, then added “I like the croutons in the bags we get from the grocery store better than Ruby Tuesday’s.”
I wrote that down as well. It wasn’t really all that fascinating, but it would make for good filler in case this review turned up short.
As it turns out I can write three paragraphs about Adam and croutons.
The salad was about half gone when the door chime announced the arrival of another customer. I’d seen the middle-aged man step down from his big white pickup. He was wearing new jeans that were rolled up, they were about three sizes too long otherwise. This look was popular in the 50's. He also wore a bright red shirt, large glasses, and a straw cowboy hat. In other words, he didn’t really stand out in downtown Desoto.
He stood in the middle of the floor, apparently unfamiliar with the layout. Kim kindly and politely asked to assist him, she did not appear to recognize him either. A new customer.
“Do you know what you want?” She asked him, pulling out her pad. He continued to look around at the overhead ‘special’ announcements.
“Do you have sauerkraut?” he asked.
The three of us immediately snapped to attention. We painfully choked our snickering and listened for what could possibly come next.
Kim, also looking a bit baffled played it as best as she could. “We have kraut that we put on our some of our sandwiches.”
Then it got better.
“I was thinking kraut cooked with a ham bone.” He replied as if that were a common diner option everywhere but here.
We were struggling to maintain ourselves, we had to whisper since we were the only other customers at the time.
“That’s the line I’m going to use at every restaurant we ever go to.” I told the clan. Adam snorted, Angel sighed. She sighed because she knows I will.
She knows this because of how I order beer.
Here’s a challenge for you. It’s not a big one it only requires that you watch TV. You’ve seen it a thousand times already, a guy walks into a bar and says to the barkeep: “Beer!” that’s it, just “Beer.”
Now you try it. Go to a bar and ask for “Beer.” Just like they do on TV. Go on, try it, it’s hilarious, or as Angel describes it, embarrassing. So she now knows at sometime, someplace completely inappropriate, I’ll ask for sauerkraut, cooked with a ham bone. Maybe at Trattoria Giuseppe’s, or Wendy’s or Waffle House. It’ll be hilarious!
Anyway, Kim masterfully talked the cowboy into a burger instead, though I now know what I’m ordering next time.
The food we got was of course, excellent. Kim is a splendid restaurateur, she doesn’t serve anything that isn’t good, and she offers much more than standard greasy diner fare. The fish was crispy on the outside, flaky inside, the fries were crinkly and crunchy, the pickle sour. Angel left teeth marks on the bared rib bones and Adam’s food disappeared quickly.
The tea? Well, that still needs work. It was clear and fresh, but either the ice or the cup itself had a flowery aroma to it that did not fit well with the drink. Hey, if I didn’t criticize something I wouldn't be earning my paycheck.*
Awesome good place! The price is fair and the food plentiful. The bill came in at thirty-two dollars and change, I bumped up the total to forty even. At the register Kim smiled and asked about the only thing she was really worried about. “How was the tea?”
“Kim, you’re just not going to win this one.” I answered.
“I have to try.”
That’s why I like her and her place so well, because she cares and she will try.
* There is, of course no actual paycheck with this gig.