Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jack in the Box

899 Veterans Boulevard
Festus, MO

Note to new readers:  This review contains occasional vague references to previous articles.  It also contains rambling personal tangents that have little or nothing to do with the restaurant itself, but are part of a sporadic thread of background trivia. If you'd like to get yourself up to speed to enhance your reading experience please do so, all previous reviews are available in the left hand column of this page.

The unrelenting heat wave continued. I’d spent most of the day puppy-sitting at home while Angel made a trip to PetSmart to pimp some mutts for CARE (http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/MO337.html ). She took one of the dogs we’d been fostering for several months with her. We really like Eva, a small, sweet whippet–thin, cinnamon hued, boxer/mountain cur mix, but she really does deserve her own family. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/19660406

  Angel fetched Eva from a rescue in Independence Mo. since she looked just like our own Deedee, and a little like Blue. Angel finds and goes after dogs with this general appearance whenever she can. One, a big boy named Rocko came from as far away as West Memphis Arkansas. Rescue operations trade dogs fairly often, there’s so many kenneled dogs that finding another rescue that has luck with certain types of dogs is almost as good as finding it a home.
We had several boarders in, so it was a little more work than our own five dogs take. One, a very young yellow lab named Tucker  needed to be let outside several times to avoid inevitable mishaps. I did sneak in an early HBA trip to Wally-world, but that and  dog-duty was about the extent of my day, until Adam got up. I took that opportunity to take a much-wanted and richly undeserved nap.
     It was Angel’s turn to choose the eatery, she mentioned that we hadn’t been to Jack’s in a while. I liked it the last time so I agreed. The heat makes original thinking and deciding very tough for me, so I was game for just about anything. I wasn’t all that hungry anyhow. Chili for breakfast, general lethargy throughout the day, along with the oppressive heat made me pretty much meal-ambivalent.

The Place:
Atop the hill overlooking the interstate, next to Taco Bell, Fazoli’s and a half dozen other fast-food boxes. The place was nearly empty, none of the joints on the hill were really rocking. Angel had mentioned on the way that Jack served breakfast 24/7. That seemed appropriate since my nap had been long and very heavy. I like Jack’s burgers, but once again, for you the fans, I decided to try something different.
I scanned the various breakfast offerings, not really a big variety, sandwiches, wraps, etc. I finally settled on the ‘Ultimate Sausage Combo’ only because it didn’t have ham. I usually like ham, but my delicate, yet handsome chili-laced tummy seemed to jerk away from the very notion of it this evening, I don’t know why.
There was no tea. I’d had a soda/pop/coke earlier in the day and didn’t really want another, but the only other option was lemonade, usually too-sweet, so I got a Coke anyhow.
Angel placed her order, Adam his, and we filled our drink cups and found a table in the back corner.
A broom and dust pan leaned against one of the empty tables, no person attached. It would have been nice if there had been as the floor was littered up noticeably more than it needed to be. A couple of the tables could have used some attention as well, but weren’t getting any either. The only other customers were a young couple with a small child. The child, true to its own nature was refusing to eat its meal. “Finish your meat so we can go home.” The mommy kept calmly coaxing the sticky little imp. That went on for at least fifteen minutes, though it seemed much longer. I don’t really care for small children, their doting young parents even less.
I asked Angel what she ordered, she told me, adding that she thought she was going to get a chicken sandwich until she saw the giant poster depicting one. “It just didn’t look very good, too processed-looking.” I didn't see the picture, but understood the issue. Chicken on a sandwich should look at least a little like actual chicken, not like a large McNugget.

The Food:
Angel had ordered the Sirloin Swiss burger, Adam, the Spicy Chicken. They each also got two tacos, which they love and I detest. Their orders were sided by curly fries, my breakfast sandwich with hash browns. The young lady that delivered the food tray asked if we needed any sauces.
“Do you have any sauerkraut?”I innocently asked.*
The table roared, the girl grinned, obviously confused, but came back professionally. “No, I’m afraid not.” She answered, faking amusement at the inside joke.
I dumped out my six or eight flat hash brown bites, essentially two-inch-long, flat tator-tots. They seemed kind of dark and felt heavy. I unwrapped the sandwich and was a little disappointed. The sausage, egg and cheese were on a standard hamburger bun. The sausage was flattened to fit the bun all the way to the rim, so it looked and felt like a cheeseburger. This made the first couple of bites a bit odd. It looked like a burger, felt like a burger so the initial taste was somewhat confusing to my taste buds' primal instincts. There was nothing really bad about it, but I usually take my sausage sandwiches on biscuits. The hash browns were indeed as I’d feared, heavy, too greasy, so I didn’t finish them. Angel kindly shared her ample curly fries. My meal was not especially satisfying though I can’t blame it completely on the meal itself. I was still struggling with occasional aftershocks from the breakfast chili, I was uncomfortable in the heat and I was sipping a too-sweet, bubbly Coke. I quit drinking pop/soda/cokes with meals a long time ago due to the fact that they overpower a meal in sweetness and bloating factor.
Angel and Adam didn’t have any problems though. They tore through their tacos and sandwiches like pros.
As objectively as I can though I will say that Jack’s breakfast offering was on its own merit, in every way inferior to Hardee’s. Hardees has real, home-made-like, biscuit-sized biscuits and sausage-sized sausage. That combination just seems right to this southern-bred eye and tongue. Their tator-rounds (thin tots) are to die for. If I want a fast-food breakfast sandwich, Hardees is my first choice. Now that I’ve tried it, I’d say Jack in the Box is like twenty fifth, or ninetieth, wherever the bottom might be.
Don’t take this one lousy review as a total condemnation of the place. Their burgers are quite good. Angel and Adam tell me those disgusting, meat-pasty tacos are great and the atmosphere/sanitation is usually better than the more popular chains. On this day though, this particular store was not at its best. Too much litter on the floor, too many tables left un-cleaned, even though there was no rush going on, quite the opposite in fact. Clean your floors and tables folks, is that too much to ask?

* This is one of those references to previous reviews I mentioned in slanty print above. This particular one goes back to June, 2011, titled 'Kim's Cafe V'.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taytro’s Bar and Bistro

343 N Creek Dr.
 Festus, Mo.

My turn to choose. My original thought, Bob Evans’ was universally frowned upon. I gave it some more skull-time and realized that we’d not been to Taytro’s in quite a while. It was pretty new when we first went, enough time had passed to see if they’d managed to keep up the good work or if they’d spiraled into decline.
The Place:
On a hill next to an ATT store and a couple of other ubiquitous strip mall shops, Taytro’s parking lot allocation was less than half full, this wasn’t an indicator of anything other than that we dine earlier than most people. We were seated immediately at a table next to the door. The place hadn’t changed much at all. Bright, festive red walls, lots of Mardi Gras gewgaws and artwork. The overhead chalkboard exclaimed something I already knew, that Ed Null would be performing live later that evening. I don’t know Mr. Null personally, but I am familiar with some of his likely ancestors, there’s quite a few Nulls populating the local cemeteries.
 When I’ was checking my Facebook earlier in the day (Taytro’s has a page there) it had announced that the evening’s special would be Tilapia and rice, and that Mr. Null would be performing at seven. It was only a little past five when we arrived, we wouldn’t last that long, we’re not lingerers.
There were only a dozen or so people in the joint, a couple of mid-sized, mid-aged women sat at the bar. Both hosted tattoos, one on her lower back (you know the kind), the other with one on either shoulder. I made out one of the two fading tattoos peeking out from her tank top as a panther, the other was either a crying clown, the scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, or maybe Kurt Cobain. It was hard to be sure as the black ink was thick and a little smeary, or maybe the ‘canvas’ had shifted a bit since the art was first put there. I asked Adam to turn around discretely and verify, but he couldn’t quite tell either. Angel just told me to stop staring at the women at the bar. This didn’t faze me much since she simply refuses to get a tattoo herself and therefore apparently doesn’t want me to stare at her instead. Her loss.
We were handed menus, laminated this time (plain paper copies on our previous visits). They were not complicated, Taytro’s limits itself to a small selection.
I asked the waitress if they served beer, she looked at me a little funny, I guess because I was sitting facing the bar, but instead of calling me an idiot, she just launched into a recital of those they carried on tap. I almost stopped her at Sam Adams Amber Ale, but waited until finished the list with ‘Blue Moon’. I’d had that brand before, though I couldn’t recall when and where, but the wispy memory did hint that I’d liked it.
She added: “Good choice, I like mine with lemon!”
“That’s really peculiar” I answered, thinking that was the exact response she would like. It wasn’t. Apparently in some circles it is perfectly kosher to squeeze lemon into beer, who knew?
All for naught though, she returned in just a couple of minutes to tell me they were out of Blue Moon. I settled for the Sam Adams. Angel and Adam got tea and Coke respectively, no lemon.
The Food:
There were several great sounding options. I really, really wanted another Po’ Boy, but I’d already critiqued those and felt an obligation to you, my loyal fans, to try something else.
‘Smothered Catfish’ with rice and crawfish sauce. Oh baby, sauced crawdads!!
Angel Asked for the ‘Shrimpalaya’ A shrimp laden jambalaya dish.
Adam went for the house burger, no tomato, of course, with fries, no cheese.
We also asked for an appetizer, the fried (toasted) Ravioli, it’s a St. Louis thing.
As we waited we tuned into the provided music, at first it was Cajun style, but progressed (or regressed) to other fare including a tune by Led Zeppelin that caused Angel to hark back to her teen years. She talks little of those times, though I recall sparse stories of candles, dark poetry, Goth-like loner behavior, if not actual ritual sacrifice and blood letting. I don’t know the all the details.
As we reminisced the small, young hostess with no observable tattoos stood on one of the barstools and updated the ‘Specials’ with a steady hand and a discerning eye for pastel chalks. I recalled that she was the same girl I once compared to Kirsten Dunst, but in a good way. Dunst is cute (it’s the eyes), but her choice of movies to star in is simply awful.
The ravioli arrived with a small bowl of red dipping sauce. We dug in, each of us quietly screaming as the fried pasta released its scorching meaty innards into our mouths. It was quite good though, once it cooled down to a mere three or four hundred degrees, crispy and thick.
The salads came, simple greens topped with their delightful, sweet poppy seed dressing. Just a small bowl, not enough to fill anyone.
The main courses arrived just as were ready to nod off. The only thing on the large TV above the bar was a golf match of some kind. The only thing in this hemisphere duller than the game of golf itself is watching golf on TV.
The entrées arrived, steamy and appetizing. Taytro’s pays attention to plating, feeding the eye before the palate. My large filet rested alongside a mound of rice, it was all slathered in thick, chunks of crawfish in a creamy, light-brown sauce. Angel’s meal looked enormous, big blackened shrimp alongside more traditional sausage, chicken, celery, onion, bell pepper, etc. all Cajun-spiced and coupled with rice. She dug in, as did I. Hers came with three slices of grilled toast, mine with only one. I was jealous.
The spiciness of Taytro’s offerings is about as perfect as I can recall ever having. The taste is indeed spicy, but in a good way. The heat was not overpowering but it did build up. A full course will send you into a mild sweat and clear your sinuses, but not immediately. The heat does not at all steal the show from the food itself. “Loving it!” Angel remarked, adding: “Need more tea!”
Neither of us were able to finish our ample portions. We tried, but it just wouldn’t all fit.
The bill came in at just over fifty bucks. Fifty bucks at ‘TGI Friday’s’ is a rip-off, at Taytro’s it’s a bargain.
 We were completely full but actually wanting more. The food at Taytro’s is absolutely first rate. The fact that they don’t try to cook/offer everything under the sun probably helps. They concentrate, quite successfully, on making a few things and making them very, very well. The staff was dutiful, attentive and responsive. There were no fights, spillage or disgusting incidents. The place was clean, well tended and family friendly. We simply love this place. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t have exposed tattoos that I can stare at.
Taytro's Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Off The Hook

12636 State Route 21
De Soto, MO

The heat was building, it would be getting worse. With the mix of ninety-plus degrees, no breeze and humidity in triple digits, the air was thick and hot enough to hang and cook meat on. Angel tended to the dogs most of the day, letting them out for only fifteen minutes or so at a time, putting frozen water bottles in the outdoor watering buckets. I stayed indoors as much as possible. Unlike Angel I’m a cubicle dweller by trade and do not manage well outdoors in such ridiculously stifling, soul-sucking weather.
It was Adam’s turn to pick the eating place, he chose well.
The Place:
Off The Hook is a large, locally owned family style restaurant, a free-standing building on a large lot between Hillsboro and DeSoto. It’s quite a popular place, generally very busy. The large parking lot sits on small, rather steep hills, not a slot on it would be a good place to let go of a shopping cart or bowling ball. Angel parked the SUV on a significant slant and we slid out. The heat met us there as well, slapping us in the face like we’d just jerked open the door to a pizza oven.
The lot was not even half full, we went in and were immediately seated at a table. The motif/décor is river/pond nautical, and not entirely consistent, certainly not professionally designed but not obnoxious either. The menus were handed to us by the hostess. I made a cursory once-over, though I’d pretty much decided what my meal would be. Angel didn’t seem to be having any trouble either. Adam looked content, of course he should have been, he’d chosen OTH after all.
By the time the waitress finally stopped by again we were ready and gave out our orders, drinks, appetizer and entrees all at once.
The wood table was topped by a thick laminated ad space, local builders, flower shops, tanning salons each had simple ads glued down and glossed over. In the middle was a list of twenty or so trivia questions, the answers were randomly spread around the various ads. Adam took note and started reading them off.
“How many feet in a mile?” He asked his mother.
“Why would I need to know that?” she responded.
“Five thousand, two hundred and eighty.” I answered, not really thinking much about it.
“Why would you know that?” She sounded irritated.
I slumped in shame. “Uh, I read a lot?” I wasn’t sure why that would be a satisfactory answer but she left it alone. Adam fired off another one. “How many U.S. states have ‘West’ in their name?” Angel looked at me.
“Two” I said, sounding confident.
She furrowed her brow, Adam cocked his head like a baffled mutt.
“West Virginia and West Dakota.” Angel frowned, Adam snickered.
Adam jumped to the next one. “How many states have four letters in their name?”
I sat quietly and confidently as the two of them conferred, they both came up with Utah but forgot Ohio.
“All of them. All fifty states have at least four letters in their names.” I corrected them. They did not accept this as the correct answer, nor did the table, though I remained steadfast.
The Food:
Our Drinks came quickly, Tea, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. The tea was weak, cloudy and flat, they don’t serve beer. Our appetizer arrived, Fried Corn Nuggets, corn poppers. These are basically small hush puppies with real sweet corn blended in and deep fried, a family favorite. While munching on these an attractive young lady at the next table started making overt passes at me. Staring, grinning stupidly, cooing and spitting. I waved to her and made a face. She squeezed her fingers into her sticky palms in an effort to wave back, blowing a decent saliva bubble while she was at it. Her young parents seemed amused, encouraging her to wave. She rocked back and forth in the high chair and cooed some more. Her round face and nearly bald head made her raven-dark eyes pop, the drippy near-toothless smile went easily from ear to ear. I waved some more, she cooed some more, our eyes locked and we telepathically conspired to make trouble.
“Leave the baby alone.” Angel scolded. Too late, the tiny thing was still smiling, but now refusing her spoonfuls of applesauce. Yet another corruption mission accomplished.
The food arrived, Angel and I had both ordered the catfish plate. It came standard with hush puppies and fries and two ‘sides’. I chose baked beans and slaw, Angel opted for white beans and green beans. The sides were contained in small half-cup ramekins, one of which, toppled off its precarious plate-edge perch, spinning, spraying and spilling the entirety of it’s holdings. Sticky and tiny cabbage shreds spread out on the carpet at my feet. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. The waitress sighed and offered to fetch me another batch.
Adam’s plate held his beloved country-fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn; all made it safely to the table.
We dug in, it was to be quite an uphill battle. Four filets and two hush puppies each, fries and two sides is a lot of food. We knew this going in though. As we did last time we simply ate until full then asked for boxes, two meals for the price of one.
Armed with only a broom, the waitress struggled for several minutes to clean up the mess, essentially chasing down miniscule cabbage shards one at a time into the dustpan. She eventually gave up, it was obvious that too-noisy power tools would be required to complete the chore properly.
The food was simply awesome. The catfish was moist, flaky and fresh. The hush puppies tender and fresh, as were the fries, the beans excellent, though possibly straight from a can. The slaw, not so much. It was vinegar style, not creamy, I prefer the latter. So there’s a certain irony to the spilled slaw. I didn’t eat much of the replacement at all. The waitress seemed to notice this, though she was a professional and said nothing to my face about it.
Adam’s plate emptied fast, not a crumb remained. Angel and I both managed to eat half the fish, She donated her fries to Adam. We refused desert and asked for boxes and the check.
The food, except for the slaw was exceptional, the best catfish I’ve had in the area. The service was timely and except for the spill, quite professional and efficient. The cost was exceptional, thirty eight dollars and change for more quality food than we could ever eat in one sitting. The place is kept clean, except for the slaw in the floor, it was well staffed and quite busy. This isn’t the best restaurant in the area, but it is close, inexpensive and quite satisfying. As a comparison I’d say it is more like Cracker Barrel than Ruby Tuesdays, more rural in offerings and style. We will go back, and would not be the least bit embarrassed about taking guests, if we ever actually had guests, even though the tea is simply lousy, even worse than Kim’s.

Off The Hook Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

El Bracero

80 Merchant St.
Cadiz Ky.

Miss Kitty 2
I took Friday off and drove down to visit my parents in beautiful, healthy and responsible southwestern Kentucky. They actually live in Cerulean, but for uptown needs like restaurants, gas stations, or stores of any kind, they have to head to either Hopkinsville or Cadiz. I grew up in Cadiz and attended/graduated from the county’s one and only school. There were not a lot of restaurants back then, the Cadiz Restaurant was there, and there was usually one form or another of a slimy burger place on the east side. Since then the town has grown some, the opening of an actual interstate (I-24) exit caused a mini-boom. There are several gas stations and restaurants there now even though it is well east of what was considered Cadiz when I was a kid.

As soon as I got to Cerulean I walked into the big quiet house and was greeted by my parents’ new cat, Miss Kitty 2. No, my parents are not preschoolers, they just didn’t want to have to come up with or try to remember a new name since the previous Miss Kitty lived a long, long time. Kitty 2, unlike her evil and spiteful predecessor warmed right up to me, not even flinching when I baritoned and barked “HERE KITTY, KITTY, KITTY!” It did wake up my folks though.
We all hugged and greeted, I hadn’t seen them since Thanksgiving. In mere moments my mom asked if I’d eaten. I hadn’t since breakfast so they cleaned up a little and told me they wanted to take me to a Mexican restaurant that they had discovered. It was recommended to them by the pastor of their United Methodist Church (vastly superior to the old 'Disorganized Methodist Church'), Rev Steven Spitzer. I’ve met Rev. Spitzer a few times, he seems to be a sane and reasonable man. My parents like him a lot and respect his judgment, so I could not think of any reason to NOT try the place. Mom added that the pastor would like to know what I thought of the place, so I grabbed my top-secret critiquing notebook and jumped into their space-shuttle-like van.
Mom drove since she and my younger but bigger brother finally and permanently took the car keys away from my father. Dad grumbles about this of course, but he grumbles about most things, in a quiet though monotone-ish and generally annoying way that he finds quite amusing.
I won’t say my mother is a bad driver. There, lets just leave it at that. She probably drives just fine, its just that I get nervous around old people, I’m always afraid they’re going to tip over and break something. I’m haunted by that old lady on TV years ago, the one that had ‘. . .fallen and can’t get up!’
We arrived safely, I relaxed my white knuckles.  Mom had told me on the way about one of the restaurant's dishes, a Mexican-ized seafood plate that she liked quite well.
This place was also on the East side of town in a small shopping center strip. As it was only three o’clock, the place wasn’t very busy. In fact we were the only vehicle in the lot.
The Place:
'El Bracero', translates roughly as ‘strong arm’ usually referring to a laborer, one with strong arms, as opposed to the other kind of strong-arming which relates to Mafioso-like motivational methods. 
The décor of the place was clean and fresh. The walls were adorned with bright murals depicting a view through a Mexican-like casa window or doorway, outward to a beach scene, solitary palm trees, sand, waves crashing in. On the ceiling was a large Mexican flag nailed flat, the colors of the murals and the walls picking up the red, white and green color scheme, with a few yellows and pinks mixed in. The dark green carpet was in very good shape, no evidence of recent vomiting, always a good sign.
The place was staffed by Mexican-like people, attentive, friendly and smiling. I saw no one in particular with stronger arms than any of the others, but most looked stronger than me, so I decided not to cry out for sauerkraut.
Our waiter asked about drinks, my folks both asked for Diet Cokes. I stumbled for a moment. It would have been cool to order a beer, something I’ve never been able to do in Cadiz before. The county only became ‘wet’ a year and a half ago so there would be a novelty to having a beer served to me (legally) in Cadiz. But I was with my parents. Neither of them drink, neither of them have ever imbibed alcoholic beverages whatsoever. So out of respect, coupled with  the fact that I wasn’t really in the mood for beer, I asked for iced tea.
Our drinks arrived quickly along with the ubiquitous basket of chips, a beaker of red salsa, and three salsa bowls. Dad mentioned that he could make a meal out of those chips alone. The house salsa was spicier than I usually get at Mexican places, these particular braceros were bold.  It wasn’t too spicy though, it was a good spicy a little forehead sweat, but no screaming.
The Mexican music played in the background, slower stuff, trumpets and accordions. Sad sounding, yet always with a crescendo toward the end that indicated hope for better times to come. I couldn’t make out the words though, three years of Mrs. Hopson’s Spanish tutelage just didn’t stick. I never really made it past ‘Hola Paco, que tal?” and “Donde esta usted?” which I can remember, but for the life of me I’ve never found an actual use for.

The Food:
We all ordered the plate mom had talked about, the Bracero Seafood plate. Grilled tilapia filets, shrimp, rice, and a salad of shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. We munched on the chips and talked about people whose names no one could remember, that did something we couldn’t quite recall, back about, what was it ten years ago? Twenty? “Didn’t he marry that one girl, what was her name? No I mean the other one, the dark haired girl from, what was it, Princeton?"
Fractured and meandering conversations like this, especially with my dad are constant. Twisting and turning memory exercises that usually end up with me just agreeing with whatever he said.
They of course asked about Angel and Adam, Angel’s dog-work fascinates them as it does everyone I tell the many rich, only slightly embellished stories about her to.
The food arrived quickly, and there was plenty of it. Three hand-sized filets, eight steaming jumbo shrimp, a large pile of rice and a tower of lettuce and tomatoes.

The fish was perfectly cooked, flaky, moist. The shrimp was expertly seasoned, the rice was…. well it was good. The lettuce and tomatoes were fresh. The tea though was cloudy and a bit bitter.
We continued catching up as we dug through the meal. I realized one filet in that I wasn’t going to be able to finish. Dad was eating kind of slowly, but certainly enjoying it.
I managed to get most of the way through the second filet and all eight shrimp when I finally gave up. I was stuffed to the gills. Mom had finished most everything dad still plodded along. The waiter came by and refreshed our drinks and took away the two plates. Dad looked frustrated. “I hate to keep eating after you two are finished, it makes me look like I eat a lot, but I don’t.” This is dad’s nature, to apologize for things that don’t actually need an apology, a silly, charming trait that I’ve inherited. Thanks dad.
He finally ate all he could and we sat a bit longer enjoying the air conditioned comfort, a luxury very few real braceros are ever afforded. The bill came, dad grabbed it, I made a token protest offering to pick up the tab. I knew going in that my dad would never allow me to pay for it.


The food was really, really good. If I could find anything at all to gripe about it would be this. The plate was lacking a fluid of some kind, a sauce or maybe refried beans. The fish/rice/lettuce/shrimp were well prepared but there was an overall dryness to the plate. Some form of liquid bonding agent would have made an exceptional meal that much better. Something for the food to swim or be dunked in.
The price was very good, the plates cost a mere $7.99 each for a big pile of food. We left happy and full.
The drive home was pleasant, I got to look out at the rolling hills of the county that was my entire universe so many years ago. The farms, the quaint homes, the shirtless guys walking down the road, a few horses prancing in green pastures, the tobacco barns, cattle somberly counting down the days to inevitable butchering. All calming stuff of heavily sanitized yesteryear memories.
We stopped at their new Church building. My mom’s a huge church fan and is quite proud of the new place, as she should be. It was unlike any church I’d seen. An auditorium with two long office/classroom wings. The ‘sanctuary’ was designed as an open, high ceiling-ed space, the soft padded ‘pews’, more like connected chairs that could be easily disassembled and stored away to take advantage of the carpeted recreation surface. This building is phase one of a three phase building project. The real, permanent sanctuary is to be built later. The building still had that ‘new church’ smell to it.
We got back to Cerulean and settled in to relaxed talk, all of us full enough to not require any more meals that day. Especially since my younger, but bigger brother was going to fire up his smoker and cook various meats for a delicious feast on Saturday.
As for El Bracero, I highly recommend it. Sure, the four hour drive each way from my home might keep me from going there as often as I’d like, it’s still a pretty good place to eat.

El Bracero on Urbanspoon