302 N. Main Street
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A pretty early Spring day, I'd had a chance to do my first cemetery visit this season. It was a bit sad though, this was a county paupers cemetery. Only one headstone among scores of unmarked, budget-friendly graves, buried by county maintenance crews, cardboard coffins, no attempt to pretty up the place. It looked more like an abandoned construction site than a cemetery.
But the sun was out, the birds were in full voiced lust since early morning.
The drive into Desoto was pretty quiet. No particular reason for that, just that the three of us are quite comfortable with prolonged periods of silence.
There was only one other table occupied when we arrived, it wasn't quite 5 P.M. though. It would fill up in no time.
The place is absolutely classy looking. This wasn't decorated and designed by somebody's in-laws as a favor, this was professionally done. A modest jazz theme, black on white decor and furnishings, on a polished oak floor.
We were told to sit anywhere, so we did. Angel found us a four top in the back, by the bar.
Above the bar, two TV's were mounted, one with volume up, though not too loud, CNN, some lady pundit whining about something or the other. The other was muted and showing, of all things, basketball. Who would imagine that you could find a college basketball game on TV in March?
We were immediately greeted by a cheerful looking Jenna.
She dropped off menus and a basket of rolls, wrapped in a fluffy black hand towel. We quietly shouted our drink request, I asked for fresh brewed tea, unsweet. Angel looked at me oddly, I pointed to the front page of the menu where it listed, right there in black and white, 'Fresh Brewed Tea',
She then ordered the sweet version, Adam asked for pop.
Last time, about six months ago I had an awesome grilled pork chop. I'd had the steak there before as well.
Angel pointed to the appetizer section, noting the 'Duck Spring Rolls'. We've been trying to find duck served somewhere, this sounded like a good start. Adam would have nothing to do with duck, so we asked for toasted ravioli as well.
The tea came quickly, Jenna was on her toes. Well, mostly. She turned around after taking our order and ran smack in to another table. "That table is never there!" She explained, while Chef Tremayne stood there and laughed out loud.
We'd met the chef on previous visits. A class act, a real pro. A seriously good kitchen master and friendly and easy to laugh as well.
Jenna bounced back in no time though. The appetizers came out in just a few minutes.
We ordered our entrees.
Me: Bacon cheeseburger and fries.
Angel: Sirloin steak, garlic mashed potatoes, house salad.
Adam ordered the Blazin' Burger, described as: Fresh ground beef mixed with a fiery blend of seasonings, topped with grilled onions, jalapenos and pepperjack cheese. "No onions or peppers, please." Adam told Jenna. Adam likes spicy, but not over the top spicy.
Yeah, a burger. Since I'd had more exercise that day than I'd had in several months, I had an afternoon snack. I wasn't ready for a steak or a big pasta dish. I knew the burgers at FCG were thin, so I could probably handle that.
As we waited, the same musical duet that had come in and set up at our previous visit came in and started setting up. Two guitars, a big set of bongos. "Sugar Moon", they call themselves. We'd be gone before they started, just like the last time.
We finished off our spring rolls, sat back and just relaxed.
Then the food came.
Just as expected, pretty. Square white, pristine plates, no sprigs of greens or glitter or swooshes of sauce. Even the burgers looked a little uptown served like that. Angel's steak and potatoes looked sparse and tidy.
FCG, by default, slathers mayo on hamburgers. When Jenna told me this I made a righteously offended face and grunting noise. "No mayo then?" She asked.
"I'm an American, don't you have mustard?"
"I could bring you some."
I let it go at that. Good enough, but seriously, do I look Canadian?
The burger was piled high with a lettuce I didn't recognize, it looked smaller and rougher edged than iceberg.It was also remarkably fresh and crisp. the tomato was a bit pale, understandable, off season. The two rings of red onion would be just about the perfect portion. The burgers are balled then smashed on the grill. You can always tell. The thinner edges get crispy and delicious that way. I put good ol' American yellow
Adam's burger was similar in appearance. He got rid of the tomato. The cheese on his was pepper-jack. As for the 'blazing' aspect, he said it was more Cajun tasting than anything else. This is not a bad thing for Adam.
We didn't hear much from Angel during the meal. She indeed was in full-carnivore mode. That steak was gone before I finished half my burger. Sure it was just an 8oz. sirloin, but it was thick. She'd ordered it medium rare and that is what it was. She made pleased grunting sounds the whole time. When she finished it, her plate looked like that place on the highway after the deer carcass has been recently hauled away. Knife still in her hand, I did not say anything to her about what I'd just witnessed her do to that steak and the peculiar vicious glimmer still in her eyes.
When she started using her words a few minutes later, she described the steak."Very tender, perfectly cooked."
I knew she liked it. When Jenna offered her steak sauce, Angel declined with a grunt. That's how you know when a steak is good, when you don't need to put any sauce on it.
Jenna stopped by, asked if we needed a third or fourth tea refill, we said no. She asked about dessert, we also said no thanks. Looking at my remaining half burger, she offered a box, that received an affirmative response. Indeed that afternoon snack had zapped my appetite.
As I said at the start, Fountain City Grill is among our favorite places. That did not change with this visit. As I was boxing up the leftovers, Chef Tremayne stopped at each table and greeted everyone. I like this man. He's nothing like those hot headed chefs you see on TV. During our meal he even personally served one table their entrees, the growing crowd had started to tax Jenna, the only server on the floor.
The tab came to fifty seven bucks. Sports bar pricing, perfectly acceptable considering the quality of the food at FCG makes Applebees look like McDonalds in comparison.
Everything, except maybe the mayo on the burger, is exactly right about FCG. The service, the food, the offerings, the attention to detail and freshness, the casual, friendly service, all of it works beautifully.
As we left and were approaching the car We heard a voice from behind, calling us.
"You forgot your box, sir!" It was Chef Tremayne, running to hand me my leftovers.
Told you, a real class act.