Several months ago I wrote a blog post about my Dad. In that post (in case you're too lazy to go read it) I said that his most admirable trait is that he can make cool stuff happen. My Dad is like Santa, Willy Wonka, the Wizard of Oz and other cool fictional guys all rolled into one. Not only does he make the craziest stuff happen, but he's also one of these tenacious people who, once he commits to something, won't let it go until he's made good on the promise or has died trying.
The back story here is that my DH is a total carnivore. He tolerates chicken (and sushi on occassion) but on the whole if it doesn't moo or baa, he's not interested in eating it. My childhood, on the other hand, was pretty much endless amounts of chicken, since my Dad was vegetarian and my Mom is no great fan of either beef or lamb. So chicken 7 days a week was the norm. Here, if I serve chicken more than once a week (or - gasp!- a vegetarian option) DH feels as though he's not had a real meal. Real men - and certainly real Aussie men - eat meat, and lots of it, cholesterol be damned.
By the end of our chicken-tastic American holiday, DH was hankering for some real meat. My parents decide that DH and I could use an adult night out, so they invite us to dinner. Not just ANY dinner, but to dinner where there are world famous steaks involved. So far, this sounds like a good plan.
Apparently, my parents (in the pre-vegetarian days) used to drive to San Dimas (a good 70 minutes out of LA) with some friends of theirs every couple of weeks. They used to shlep out to some joint called Pinnacle Peak, just to eat steaks. Pinncale Peak is the kind of place where the menu has not changed since 1967 (!), green vegetables are a dirty word, and they do this shtick where if you show up wearing a tie, they cut it off (but not before ringing a cow bell, of course.) Go check out the website...wait a sec...they have one of these in SHANGHAI?
Anyway so we drag our asses out to San Dimas to eat what are supposedly the best steaks in the West. The place wins major points for being theme, but long before theme was cool. So it's all about the pictures of cows, the wood tables, the jeans, the menu on a paper bag and so on. While I can't claim it's the best steak I've ever eaten, I can claim that my Dad decided we were going to this joint... 25 years AFTER he had first been there. In fact when he suggested we go there, he didn't even know if it still existed. See? He decides to go to dinner at some random, far away meat joint...and then there it is, exactly as promised.
DH got his meat allocation for the day, and I laughed my ass off at the idea of my well-off Jewish parents hanging out at a red neck joint like this one. It's like imagining Donald Trump walking into Taco Bell every couple of weeks for his burrito fix.
This, my friends, is not where the story ends. Ohhh NO. My Dad, Mr Santa/Wonka/Oz, had yet more tricks up his sleeve. Apparently in those days they also used to go to some bar (who knew my parents went to bars?) whose shtick was to let you throw peanut shells on the ground while you drank. Not only that, the place looked like a SWISS CHALET with faux icicles hanging down. All my Dad could remember was the way it looked and that it wasn't far from Pinnacle Peak.
We asked the waiter about it (who had no idea). He, in turn, asked the oldest employee, who said she thought it was a joint called the North Woods Inn. My Dad was sure that wasn't right, so we ate our steak and left.
Knowing my Dad like I do, I knew this whole bar/peanuts thing was annoying him and that he was going to find this joint (or the dirt lot where it once stood). Once he SAYS something exists, he's gotta prove it exists. So my Dad asks if anyone is willing to give him a shot at finding this joint. A place he hasn't seen in 25 years, a place he has NO idea where to find. The 50/50 vote meant we were heading home (much to my Dad's disappointment), until my Dad shouts, "EXIT 19! EXIT 19! That's it!" and nearly gets us all killed as he veers off the freeway across several lanes of traffic.
So there we are. Middle of nowhere, exit 19. Dad says, "Okay, people, I'm giving this little adventure 5 miles. If at the end of 5 miles we can't find it, we'll give up and go home." (and me in the back seat is thinking, "YEAH, right. Dad? Give up? Whatever!")
Me, DH, my Dad, Mom and brother are sitting in my Dad's SUV, tooling down some random road in some random town and frankly, I think more than one person in that car was hoping not to find it. It's 11pm, we're all tired and full of steak and the streets are almost empty - and it's mostly resedential so we all think, frankly, that Dad is full of shit.
...and then, of course, my Dad says, "We're just about at the 5...oh wait a minute! There it IS!" and nearly kills us again by veering off to the left.
The bar still exists, 25 years later. It still has plenty of drinkers at the bar, plenty of peanuts, and plenty of old-world charm. Given the time, the bar was closed, but at least we found it, it really exists, they still throw peanut shells on the floor.
Gotta hand it to my Dad...a true man of his word.
...that being said, here's the name of the place:
...so if we'd listened to the waiter, we probably would have found the place a lot quicker. Then again, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun...and what is life without a little adventure?