Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dining Mediocrity

Mary and I are enjoying a few days in Branson, MO, before she starts back to school next week. We arrived last night, had a great night's sleep, and started the day today with breakfast at a place called Peppercorn's that features breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. It's a nice-looking place from the outside, although the out-of-place cast-iron bathtub out front probably should have been a warning. The tables were all covered in that 1970's nasty pink laminate, and the carpet looked like something Grandma might have thrown out. The windows were covered in curtains that looked as if they were made from old colonial American flags (the ones that had thirteen stars in a circle), decor that seemed to say, "We're proud of our Southern heritage, and we have serious boundary issues when it comes to decorating with symbols of national freedom." The guy that waited on us looked like he may have spent a little time as a roadie for Aerosmith. Between stints in prison, that is. And he talked the whole time about how much he hated "this job" because of all the "freakin' foreigners" that are in the food business now that "can't speak American". Okay, I'll give him that last one, but until you line up another job that doesn’t “suck the life out of you”, shut your spit cave and bring me my sweet tea.

The buffet, while a delightful break from Sir Bitchalot, was a truly dismal little piece of real estate. I've seen more variety—not to mention more appealing food—under heat lamps at convenience stores. The most interesting item was the bacon. It looked as if someone had cooked up a huge batch of crispy bacon strips and then pummeled them with a saucepan until they were in pieces slightly larger than bacon bits. Mary tried to be optimistic, referring to it as a “topping” for the eggs, but I was beginning to feel guilty about picking this place. Waiting at the cashier seemed like an eternity. For one thing, there was an Indian family in front of us scrutinizing their bill. Um, yeah, it’s a little late for that, Haji. Load the kids and the wife on your flying carpet and get out of my way. Which he would have done, but Agnes at the register was so slow that by the time we got to her I needed to shave. Leaving the restaurant—and I use that term loosely—we were approached by an older couple about to go in. The man asked me if I “had left any food for them.” (Yeah, I’ve never heard that one before). The woman, still giggling from her husband’s clever remark, mentioned that they had heard mixed reviews about the place, and asked if was good. And I don’t feel a bit guilty about telling them that it was one of the best restaurants we’d ever eaten at.