Sunday, December 14, 2008

Somewhere in Time ...

Maybe it was the decor -- slightly wrinkled, poinsettia-flowered plastic tablecloths covering some, but not all of, the regular tables. Maybe it was the two-dimensional cardboard "ornaments" that could have come out of a 99 Cent Store..the rather tired-looking stocking hanging from a wall. It all took me back to Larry McMurty Country -- to a main street with diagonal parking, the very clear feeling that this had once been something else -- common in small towns where the bank becomes a restaurant, a dry goods place becomes a thrift or antique store ...

The help -- a fat guy (presumably Big John himself; he looked exactly like his portrait on the menu) tending bar and giving orders to the kitchen through a pass-through window; a 40-something waitress who worked at a leisurely pace, but was friendly; the teenage bus boy in denims and a shirt ... they added to this deja vu I was feeling.

But I wasn't in Big Sandy, TX., we were in Big John's Cafe, located on Artesia, which is a very busy street here. You'll see it on a map as the 91 Freeway, in fact.

Big John's Super Burger is a 32-oz. patty (two pounds) with lettuce, tomato, onion, topped with cheese on a toasted bun "drenched in our special sauce." $26.95. "Big John will pay for your Super Burger if you can eat the whole burger in one hour. Ask your server for details." I asked ours and she laughed and said, "No one's done it, honey - ever. We got a wall fulla pictures a the people that tried it. No one ever done it." Mental picture: "Where y'all goin' Billy Bob?" "Ah'm gonna go git me a Super Burger and git it did, Jack."

Big John is a worker though -- business hours are from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., closed Mondays. There are daily specials -- Thursday's is chicken stew and biscuits; all days it's $10.95.

Richie had the Tri-Tip Dip - Angus tri-tip slices on a toasted house roll (at first I thought it was pita bread) with au jus, a little dish of horseradish and potato salad $7.25. I had a patty melt with grilled sweet onions, melted cheese on grilled rye bread $6.95. Coffee is $1.95, free refills. Desserts aren't listed on the menu but Friday it was tiramisu or spumoni vs. apple crisp or peach cobbler.

Big John's Cafe, 2302 W. Artesia, Redondo Beach 310-376-4881

No comments: