Thursday, September 17, 2009

“Gentlemen Still Prefer Blondes...

although a porter or a stout will certainly do in a pinch.” (Mark Petix / The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA, and quoted on the restaurant’s web site.)

We pulled into Hemmet, CA, unhitched the rig, and promptly placed a call to Chuck’s aunt Margaret Dienst. (More about this remarkable woman and her new great granddaughter in a later post.) Plans were made to meet at Margaret’s home in Sun City and to have dinner that night at a local restaurant. Chuck’s cousin Sandra Flake and her husband Tim, who live just up the road in Perris, would be joining us.

I didn’t give any thought about the type of restaurant we would be going to. The purpose was to meet with family—the food was secondary. But when we pulled into the parking lot of P.H. Woods Brewhouse and Barbeque Restaurant, my initial thought was that beer and barbeque would be just perfect. And a perfect night it proved to be.

Before entering the restaurant, one is duty-bound to honor the noble pig, as depicted by a large bronze pig statue. And, of course, take the obligatory family photo with the bronze host.

Then we were shown to our seats and handed a long menu that, while emphasizing barbeque, has something for everyone. There were half pound Angus burgers, salads, wraps, Southern fried steak, meat loaf, jambalaya, steaks, fish tacos, salmon, fish and chips, and pasta. Plus a long list of interesting appetizers that included regular or boneless wings, fried mac & cheese sticks (hard to believe that neither Chuck nor I ordered this), toasted battered green beans, and sliders.

Our first decision was easy. From a list of five or six house-brewed beers, both Chuck and I ordered the Desert Wheat Ale, described on the menu as made from 60% American wheat malt and using the same recipe since 1992. This was unfiltered wheat and while still maintaining the crispness of a wheat beer seemed to have more “heft” and a denser mouth-feel. This was really an excellent beer.

Finally, we had to make our dinner decisions. For Tim, it was the Pub Battered Fish ‘n Chips—four large pieces of Atlantic cod dipped in a Honey Ale batter and served with fries and creamy cole slaw. I can attest to the sweet flavor of the fish since a piece returned home with me and became breakfast one morning. And, since Tim didn’t care for the cole slaw, this was for the other four of us to share. (Yes, I did eat a fish filet for breakfast – and I like it.)

Sandra and Margaret shared the Texas Beef Brisket “small barbecue plate,” which was two slider-sized sandwiches on potato rolls and served with sweet potato fries and baked beans.

Chuck and I decided to order from the “Two Eat for $25.00" menu. This was a real deal. You got one appetizer to share, one entrée with one side for each of us, and a dessert to share. From the menu we decided to order the Toasted Battered Green Beans, Chuck ordered the brisket sliders with regular fries, I ordered the pulled pork sliders with sweet potato fries, and we shared the “Wish I had your Kahlua Mudd Pie.”

Now I’d like to tell you that we ordered the green beans because we felt in the need of a green vegetable.

I’d be lying. I’ve seen battered and fried green beans on other menus and have been curious. This was my chance to satisfy that curiosity.

We received a truly massive serving of beans that appeared to have been coated with a corn meal based batter and then oven cooked. They were accompanied by a cup of ranch dressing. The crust was dry and crisp, and the beans inside were still al dente. There were enough beans to share with the whole table, and we kept encouraging our fellow diners to eat more beans.

Both of our plates came with very moist, very tender, very flavorful meat that had just the right amount of smoky flavor. Chuck asked “Why couldn’t I find this brisket in Texas?” (above),

and I thought my pork would compete with many Memphis barbeque places. I asked for both the barbecue sauce and the creamy mustard sauce to be served on the side and found that I vastly preferred the barbeque to the mustard sauce. And that is some of Tim’s cole slaw you see on the top of my sandwich to give this a true Southern flair. Having eaten too many beans and knowing that dessert was still to come, I decided to take my second pulled pork slider home – yes, for breakfast one morning.

Wise decision. As you can see, the Kahlua Mudd Pie was gigantic, but we soldiered on and completed the eating mission.

But more was to come. We were celebrating Margaret’s ninety-sixth birthday – maybe a few days late, but we weren’t in Hemmet on her actual birthday. And the kitchen pulled out all the stops and sent a birthday celebration dessert to the table. Yikes!!! A giant brownie, topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup, and surrounded by a sea of whipped cream topped with candied pecans. We managed to eat all of the ice cream, all of the pecan-topped whipped cream, and about two-thirds of the brownie.

As we left, Chuck noticed a bench in the lobby waiting area and nothing would do but to take a photo of Tim, Margaret, and Sandra.

A great evening and a prelude to our week to come in Hemmet.

This was a 5.0 Addie night.

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