I eat out, and not always because I am hungry. After years of calling the restaurant industry home as a manager, sometimes I just need to feel the buzz of the experience. These visits go far beyond the order, eat, pay cycle of the everyday diner. I enjoy seeing the kitchen layout, the POS (point of sale) operating system, the ingredients on the menu, and the moods of the service staff. I always form an educated opinion on whether a particular establishment will survive or not, and quite frankly I have been right more than I have been wrong.
Now that I have properly huffed the wind into my own sails, let me share with you a pleasant Danville surprise.
Rewind briefly to the 4th of July. My wife and one year-old niece settled into the first place that offered unpopulated shade to watch the Kiwanis Parade and it just so happened that this non-descript oasis offered traditional, soft serve ice cream cones as a refreshing ode to Americana nostalgia. We entered Iron Horse Deli and BBQ, eager to indulge as I immediately went into analysis mode.
The décor was an understated train motif paying homage to the origin of the Iron Horse Trail and met with the smokey smells of brisket coming from the back. Very 4th of July appropriate. We came for ice cream but left with a buy-one-get-one coupon for breakfast.
Fast forward to Sunday. It was time to use the coupon. By nature I am not a huge breakfast eater and therefore harder to please in such instances but I was intrigued by the unique variations of “Eggs Benedict.” and settled on the Texas Benedict.
I was completely unprepared for the bright-light, angelic experience I was about to have.
Two light and buttery buttermilk biscuits topped with an Angus (hamburger) patty and smothered in bacon chunky country gravy. Oh my stars! After the first bite I was very aware that this simple combination of flavors and textures was in the top five of all time, but as I mopped up the last bits of gravy with my finger….MY FINGER, I knew it was “top two.” I remember when I was 16 in Tahoe when I was served a fresh salmon, caper, onion and cilantro bagel plate. This will always be my first breakfast crush, but here I was, many years later, being struck by crush number two.
I immediately began looking for other things I could try that were unique to this place, and found the BBQ sauce caddies by the serve yourself soda fountain. Three different sauces, mild, sweet and hot all made in-house. I retrieved them all and brought them back to our table for some connoiseuring.
Our “far too busy” to chat server Kathleen stopped what she was doing to come over and not only describe each sauce in elaborate detail, but offer her opinion on each. I knew she had to be the owner so I asked. “No, I’m not the owner,” she said, “I just really love the food here.”
Okay, in case you’re keeping score, this representative is exactly the kind of employee that restaurants need in order to survive.
I explained how blown away I was by my meal and she offered that “that’s good to hear, because we might stop serving breakfast. It’s just not catching on.” Don’t let this happen.
Looking out our window at Hartz avenue, being surrounded by train items, watching the American Flag flap in the breeze out front and being served an extraordinary meal by Kathleen, made me appreciate all over again how fortunate we are to call this area “home.” Moreover it made me hungry to return for the BBQ specialty. I recommend that you do the same.