Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dive! Dive! Dive!

Okay, that title may be a little misleading. Yes, I was a member of our U.S. Navy, and yes the title is reminiscent of many a movie with a submarine where you hear "Dive! Dive! Dive!" as everyone scrambles to submerge farther into the depths (side note: as a sailor on a guided missile frigate, I always thought anyone wanting to be on a ship DESIGNED to sink was crazy!) But no, I'm going to talk about a different kind of "dive".

The Blue Plate in Salt Lake City, Utah

My wife and I have this love of dives, or what we affectionately call "mom and pop joints". Whenever we travel, we try to make as many of our dining experiences take place in the hole-in-the-wall local places, and not the neighborhood Applebee's. What we've found is that what the places lack in fancy d├ęcor, they more than make up for in quality (and sometimes quantity) of food. Which is the main reason we walked in the door in the first place.

And you never know what you might find when you do.

Back in February of this year, we went to a place called Aces Bar & Grille. It was at the top of our date night list (we rarely have the "Where do you want to go?" "I don't know, where do you want to go?" conversations because of the list - there's a tip for you!) One of the items on the menu was a grilled prime rib dinner. Yes, I said "grilled" prime rib. I have only experienced such a steak previously once in my life, and it happened to be in a steak house near Cincinnati, Ohio. So when I saw it on the menu I had to have it.

And I wasn't disappointed. It was AMAZING! Lisa had the garlic butter shrimp over linguine. The thing she notes (and I confer with her while writing this) is that it came in a full or half size. She had ordered the half and found it a perfect portion. Whereas the GRILLED prime rib was so large that I barely was able to finish it (Okay, to be honest, it tasted so good that I couldn't stop - and I "paid for it" the next day on the bathroom scale.)

While we were dining, a band started to set up. A Foreigner cover band (which played more than just Foreigner tunes) were the evening's entertainment. According to Jake, our waiter, Aces has bands perform all the time. He then told us of a particular band that was coming in March, and we immediately put in a reservation for a table.

I know it sounds a bit confusing; a small bar and grille taking reservations. But actually, it was still a place that had a cover charge at the door (for the band), but allowed reservations to guarantee you had a table.

Love the character of these kind of places

That brings me to last night. We met some friends (Tony and Mary) at 19:30 for dinner and the band. After appetizers, Tony and I both ordered the GRILLED prime rib (I promise, Lisa, next time I'll try something different!), Mary had the fall-off-the-bones ribs, and Lisa had shrimp tacos. This time I brought about half of the steak home. Tony and Mary both brought home leftovers as well. Lisa found another perfect portion meal. She said that the tacos were loaded with shrimp - not the usual three per taco.

Tony & Mary
Lisa - my sweetheart, wife, and dance partner
Okay, enough about the amazing food. There was another reason Tony and Mary joined us: the band. And that band was the Midlife Chryslers. A group of very talented musicians, including Cleveland's own Michael Stanley. These guys were fantastic. Covering blues and rock (both from sides A and B of the genres), they kept the dance floor filled (mostly with ladies - yeah, they know what they're doing). They included The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers", Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" (reminiscent of Jake and Elwood Blues' version), and Tom Petty's "Breakdown". And the best part, they were having fun playing together. And that is infectious and adds to the audience's experience.

Mostly ladies on the dance floor

Great musicianship from the Midlife Chryslers

Michael Stanley

The point I want to make is that you don't have to spend a gazillion dollars at a fancy restaurant or coliseum. There are many little dives right near where you live that provide great food and live entertainment. Check them out and give them your business. Or the only places left will cost you a car payment or two.

(Special thanks to servers Jake and Morgan at Aces Bar & Grille for helping provide us with such a great evening!)

©Emittravel 2016

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