I used to be really into going to major FOODIE type of restaurants, but lately I’m looking for something a bit more down to earth than sitting in a candlelit room with yuppies, having the essence of hickory and truffles elegantly farted into my face by a haunted accordion. I mean, that shit is cool for a second but sometimes I just really want to eat comfort food in some small town dive with the local yokels, you know what I’m saying?
I guess this is our current version of “going out on dates” since Chooch has ditched us for That McDonald’s Life. Not gonna lie, it’s been nice to get out of the house and neither of us are opposed to driving out of Pittsburgh so it’s been nice to see non-Brookline sights. Even rural shit, I guess.
For this weekend’s diner date, I let Henry choose. As usual, he chose poorly. It was some place called G&G’s or something else equally auto body-sounding. It was in VANDERGRIFT, whatever that means, and at first I was like, “OK G&G’s, I see you. Let’s goooo” because it was situated squat in the middle of an adorable small-town street (actually, it was on the corner) and it looked cute! Not all like tires were getting rotated in the back!
Except that it was PACKED and not regular-PACKED, but TIGHTLY-PACKED. So as soon as we walked in and put our name and number on the list, I felt panicky. I mean, I’m getting less OMG about eating in restaurants during The Bad Times, but I’m not OK with crowds still. And I really didn’t want to sit in the middle of so many small-town mouth breathers just for the sake of a grilled cheese that, let’s be real, would be devoured within 4 bites.
Since the host had my number, we went back to sit in the car. There was nowhere to stand in the little foyer without jutting your buns into the face of diner.
We had only been waiting in the car for about 10 minutes before I started getting RULL antsy and “don’t they know who we are”‘ish, so Henry was like, “OMG fine let’s find somewhere else to go, fuck me for trying to choose a place without your consent.”
THAT’S RIGHT, BITCH.
I ended up finding a place through my nemesis Yelp that was allegedly “9 minutes” away. At first I was like, “I’m not sure about this place, it has taxidermy” which is obviously completely off-brand for me. But at the same time, it was the kind of DARK LOG CABIN vibe I was yearning for and just didn’t know it.
On the way there, that fucking G&G motherfucker had the audacity to call me to tell me our table was ready. Cool fucking story! I was mad that they called and not texted (you know, with their restaurant landline) so I refused to answer out of principal. They called right back! Jesus, why are you sweatin’ me, G&G?? Get a life!
Anyway, we rolled up to BONFIRE and I was like, “OK, this is nothing to look at from the outside” and then immediately upon entering, we were cock-slapped in the face by a wall of stale cigarette stench because the steps to the basement LOUNGE was right next to the entrance. I was tempted to go down there and check in on the sad sacks crying into their beers, but there’s always next time.
The front room was empty aside from a table of OLD MEN REGULARS who told us to just go ahead and sit down. I had lowkey Blue Flame-circa-1984 vibes, to be honest, and even though I still was MEH about the DEER HEADS everywhere, I was really feeling like this was the place that I was meant to me, fuck you G&G. (And you too Henry for suggesting that dump.)
Henry immediately headed straight for the bathroom while I chose the one booth that was situated right next to a beam on one side – Henry’s side, lol.
The waitress came to get our drink orders and she was so adorable in a cowgirl flannel and Princess Leia buns. She said she loved my sweater and I sang, “I THINK I’M GONNA LIKE IT HERE” in my best Annie impersonation while Daddy Warbucks was pissing in the john.
“How was the bathroom?? Was it cool??” I cried after Henry returned and finally managed to get situated in the booth without having to slice off part of his gut first. (And yes, I was a good orphan and ordered a stupid unsweetened ice tea for him in his absence.)
“Not really, it was just a regular bathroom,” he said. “Nothing special.”
“OK well I’m taking my phone anyway just in case,” I cried as I rolled out of the booth toward the restrooms. Henry never thinks anything is special so I’d be the judge of that.
It was OK! Kept up the dead animal theme.
Back in the LODGE, Henry ordered cole slaw and something called Texas Toenails or something from the appetizer section of the menu – he was really flexing that Faygo salary. Meanwhile, someone sitting at the Old Man table had a ringtone that sounded like the horn of one of those mini-big rigs that the SHRINER’S drive down my road during the Memorial Day Parade.
Hold please, while I find an example.
LOL I just caught Henry looking all around for the sound.
Every time that notification went off, I pictured one of the old guys paying the check and then peeling out of the Bonfire lot in his bitchin’ Shriner mini-car, honk-honk motherfuckers. Why was this so stupidly funny to me??
I finished the word search in like 5 minutes or less because I am actually a prodigy at word searches in case you never read about me in the local Pennysaver or whatever. Also, Henry thought our server’s name was Audible and definitely not Autumn.
Dude, this grilled cheese was just what I needed. And I stole some of Henry’s fries which were JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT. Yeah, I could handle the whole HUNTER’S LODGE vibe a lot better if all the dead animals were fake. I felt like a hypocrite gushing over how JUST MY STYLE that place is! But it’s true! I love dark/dim restaurants. Sigh.
Meanwhile, there was a steady stream of old country classics playing, as expected. I don’t like country at all but if I’m going to be stuck somewhere enduring it, I would definitely prefer the stuff from the 70s and early 80s, like Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton shit you know? So I wasn’t mouthing off about the Bonfire soundtrack at all. However, at one point, this one song came on that made me straight up drop my grilled cheese.
“OMG I HAVEN’T HEARD THIS SONG SINCE I WAS LITTLE AND IT’S BRINGING BACK HIDDEN MEMORIES, MAYBE OF MY BIO-DAD???” I hissed across the table because god forbid any of the deer heads heard me baring my soul. There was literally no one else around us but them. :(
It was that I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD jam and I was like on the verge of spurting out tears.
Henry couldn’t remember who sang it, and I’m certain I probably new knew, so a quick Shazaam learned him that it was Ronnie Milsap.
“Oh, I never would have guessed that,” I scoffed. “I don’t even know who he is, just his name.”
“RONNIE MILSAP?!” Henry repeated, like OK I already said I know the name, just not really who he is but cook on with your irritating reiterations, Chef Dick. And then, “THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER!!!??”
The way he said this, totally blurted it out across the table in this serious, frenzied way like he was the friend I phoned and he was telling me the winning answer.
We locked eyes for a moment just as the SHRINER NOTIFICATION went off 4 times in succession at the Elder Table and I just lost it, mid-chew, about to spit out a glob of grilled cheese cud onto Henry’s glasses. It was the most hilarious 3 seconds I’ve experienced in quite some time, Henry’s dire Milsap description followed by clown horns. I was choking at that point, tears streaming down my scrunched up fat face, and even Henry started laughing but I don’t think he knew why.
OMG I will never forget RONNIE MILSAP ever again except for when I started to write this portion of the blog post and had to google “Who sings….” because I totally forgot.
THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER.
JOHN WAYNE SHIT.
OK somehow I ended up feasting on coconut (WHY DO I ALWAYS TYPE COCOCUNT AT FIRST???) cream pie three weekends in a row, and I have no regertz. This one was so good and totally my style!! I knew as soon as AUDIBLE was walking over playing a sample of THE LAST BUCKAROO* with my slice of pie in her hand, that this was going to be a winner. For starters, it had WHIPPED TOPPING. And the actual coconut cream was fresh and homemade-tasting and not snot-textured and vanilla pudding-y which is my least favorite kind and sadly the kind that Janna and I had two weeks ago at that other place I was obsessed with but already forgot the name of.
*(I literally just googled “What are names of classic western books” lol)
This is where all the CIG STENCH was emanating from.
Oh shit, I should have checked the menu to see if they have SHIRLEY TEMPLES because this totally seemed like the type of establishment that would.
Anyway, I am smitten with this place. I want to go back soon-ish and check out the BACK ROOM which seems to overlook A GORGE. Or maybe just a slight hill.
I might have my birthday dinner here so stay tuned for an invitation. The Watering Hole area would probably be a great place for an AFTER PARTY. If I send you an invitation, you better show up and say I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD.
First round of Shirley Temples on Chooch!