Last Saturday we had an appointment at the vet at the ungodly hour of 9:20 AM! If I am lucky, I am up sitting in my bathrobe and writing at 9 am. Nevertheless, I persevered. I got up when the alarm went off with only a couple of snoozes, got us out the door and to the vet on time.
Zorr was only there for a shot for his busted knees (in Europe I could get the same treatment for my busted knees) so he and Randy were in and out in 10 minutes.
“What do you want to do now?” Randy asks.
Damn. All dressed up and no place to go. I was mascara-ed, glossed, my hair looked good! Neither Randy nor I are early morning eaters so even the coffee shop and a pastry held no appeal.
So, sitting there in the parking lot, I got on my marvelous, pocket computer/phone and asked Google for some suggestions.
And that is how we wound up heading to Paducah, KY. What had caught my eye was a place called Doe’s Eat Place, a James Beard award winning restaurant. It’s a 2 hour drive from Dyersburg putting us there at lunch time. Perfect!
It’s a beautiful drive to Paducah up 412 past Troy, Union City across the Kentucky border, over the Bayou de Chien, then onto the Purchase Parkway. My phone took us off major thoroughfares at that point onto 2 lane roads with 4 digit designations like 1254. Lots of grass, slotted white fences, some beautiful old homes, some ramshackle ones.
Randy kept saying, “Oooh, there’s a steep drop off here” or “oooh, this is a dangerous road.”
“Quit being such an old man!” The road was paved, it was a bright and sunshiny day, the drop off in spots was maybe 2 feet into a grassy ditch. True, it wouldn’t have been much fun at night….
We made our way into the city located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Paducah has a lovely and lively downtown. Twenty blocks of the downtown have been designated as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I saw a horse drawn carriage hauling tourists down Broadway.
Doe’s is a block from the river. We got there at noon, just as they opened. The front room was already seated with people along a bench with tables in front of them, heads craned to watch the tv on the opposite wall, tuned to ESPN and some game or other. I think they were Saturday regulars. The bartender, looking harried, seated us in the next room away from the tv. It had a feeling of the delta, dark wood polished bar, light streaming from the front windows not quite lighting the back of the room.
We ordered Tito’s vodka, pleased to see it on the menu, but alas, their shipment hadn’t arrived and so we switched to Grey Goose
Their menu is a mishmash: tamales, gumbo, steaks, chili, spaghetti. Kind of a diner free for all. Randy ordered their steak sandwich, famously “hand cut” served on a hoagie. I ordered the seafood gumbo and a salad with added blue cheese crumbles. Doe’s had put a little more thought into their salads than most diners, hence the blue cheese crumbles but it was a romaine/iceberg mix and I’m certainly no fan of iceberg but the house dressing was intriguing, a vinaigrette with fresh minced garlic and lemon juice.
All the reviews I’d read online, no matter any other complaints, said the steak was the best the reviewer had ever had. Randy’s did not disappoint. It was tender and perfectly cooked. The hoagie tasted fresh from the bakery, the hand cut fries tasted like fresh potatoes. Yet, the best ever? Maybe not but pretty damn tasty.
My salad was crisp with a lot of dark green lettuce, maybe the bartender was wrong about the iceburg? and the dressing a good idea but I should have trusted the kitchen to dress my salad. Ordering on the side meant the garlic settled to the bottom of the cup and I couldn’t get a proper mix. The gumbo looked to be pureed, no seafood or okra pieces in evidence, certainly not enough spice.
I wanted to ask our handsome bartender/server questions but he was so busy managing the two jobs that I never got the chance. Perhaps I’ll have a better opportunity at the original one in Greenville, MS. We’re going there next weekend. Straight to the source, I still want to understand that James Beard Award.