Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Rum Boogie Cafe

. . . was not our original choice for lunch. We had planned on Round Three of the pork marathon. But we found ourselves on Beale Street, we were hungry, and we still had places on Main to photograph--so it was time for Plan B.

But we had no Plan B so we began looking in restaurant doors and reading the posted menus as we walked down the street. Since Rum Boogie Café looked funky--all of the guitars hanging from the rafters and various other memorabilia--we decided this was the place.

The guitars were autographed and given to Rum Boogie by artists who had performed there. Most artists just donated any old instrument, but some, such as U2, presented the actual instrument used by the performer, and these are displayed in cases (photo left).

I am usually suspicious of restaurants in heavily touristy areas and expect mediocre and pricey food, but Rum Boogie was a surprise and turned out not to be a bad decision on our part. (Since this is not technically a “barbeque joint” it won’t be found in our final ranking.)

Chuck ordered-–what else-–the pork barbecue platter with fries, beans, and slaw. I chose the fried catfish platter--again with fries, beans and slaw. Both of our lunches were surprisingly good. The fries were hand cut and lightly seasoned with what tasted to be onion and garlic powders and paprika. The creamy slaw was one of the best to date and Chuck thought it second only to my homemade. The beans were not the standard sweet southern style. Rather, they contained bits of onion and green pepper and were more southwestern in approach. All three were first rate.

Chuck’s main complaint about the pork was that, given there was no container of sauce on the table, he would have liked a little more sauce spread over the fairly generous service of meat. Since I’m a light sauce person, I thought it just right. My catfish fillets--with one small exception--were excellent. The corn meal coating was perfect--lightly seasoned and extra crisp which was a great contrast to the sweet and moist fish it covered. And the crust remained crisp through the entire meal. The only problem was that the thickest portion of the second filet wasn’t completely cooked. But to have gotten this part cooked would have resulted in dry edges.

We spent some time talking with Kevin, the manager. He had attended college at the University of Missouri where he was a member of the wrestling team and remembered when his teams lost consistently to Iowa State and the U of Iowa teams coached by Dan Gable. He joked that we probably were the only three people in the place who would know who Dan Gable was.

Kevin told us about a book he had read about growing up in Des Moines during the fifties and the author’s description of the “nuclear” toilet seat. Those of you who remember the 50’s may remember that all diseases known to man could be caught from the dirty toilet seat. Hence, the nuclear toilet seat was born. There were two styles. One that, after use, slid into a slot in the wall where it was zapped with ultra violet light and sanitized. The second style would raise itself into a chamber where it would sit, being zapped the entire time, until the next person entered the stall and put the seat down. Now I have no idea whether the purple lights actually accomplished anything--but didn’t we feel safer when we sat down?

In just a few minutes, we covered The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, college wrestling, and "nuclear" toilet seats, and all this taking place under a bullet-ridden Yellow Cab car door (see photo #3 above). The story of the car door remains untold.

Only on Beale Street.

No comments: