The above is a quote from a man in the restaurant that my old high school friend and myself ate at last week. That man was wearing a pair of purple Docker shorts, a ringer tee with a purple collar, and a ball cap. I suspect that the shorts and the shirt were originally a Navy color before they met with disaster in the laundry. Only a good old boy, could possibly describe the place we were patronizing as a "really nice restaurant."
The setting for this particular place is lovely. It is right on the water, it has both water and street access. You can watch the kittens play under the dock, feed the fish, or not adhere to the strict "Do Not Feed the Gators" signs, while you wait for your table. It is a place from my teen years, ripe with memories of eating there, first with my family, and then with my friends as I got older. It seemed a perfect spot to get together with my friend C, whom I hadn't seen since our junior year of high school.
What I didn't remember about the place, was that it boasts one of the largest private collections of taxidermy in the country. It, without a doubt, has the record for the dustiest collection of taxidermy in the country. I am relatively certain that the recorded sounds of the long dead beasts that play on a loop, is new. That, I doubt I could have forgotten.
I had also forgotten that it is upscale red-neck dining at its finest. It is on par with a nice steak house in price, and in sync with a Long John Silver's in clientele. Very unusual. In my day, it boasted some of the best seafood in our area. I suspect that they are suffering from the current economic times, just the same as the rest of us. I also suspect that I can't be the only person to be grossed out by the 'drinking water' labelled pipes that run the length of the stalls in the women's restroom, to the bar.
Among the decor, there is a lion frozen in time, with what seems to be an antelope spending an eternity in his last leap, just under the lion's jaws. After a few drinks, it resembles an experiment in cross breeding, more so than the circle of life. There are also gators, giraffes, opossums, bobcats, more lions, wild boars, a flamingo, a tiger, and a small collection of companion kitties from over the years.
Their menu is as eclectic as their motif. They serve gator, python, llama, antelope, kangaroo, emu, ostrich, turtle, and a few more 'wild' game selections. I love their sausage, all of it. As a kid, I would get 'gator dogs' there. It was always yummy. This time they were out of most of my tried and trues, so (after having drinks first) we decided to branch out and try Gator Toes, which can be eaten like a chicken wing, and are the knuckle to claw area of the gator. I wasn't impressed. We also tried the chargrilled python. The snake was good. For dinner, I had gator tail, which was yummy, and, it always is. I would have rather had the gator ribs, but the kitchen turned me off the ribs by serving the Gator Toes still half frozen. For those of you who are skeptical that any of the above is actually food, you are clearly not from the South.
I am very sorry that I didn't take a camera with me. Soon, very soon indeed, I will return to take pictures of this dining experience...just so that I can share them with you, my bloggy pals. I promise to feature at least one picture of the lion bumping and grinding with his prey, and if sufficiently inebriated, one of me showing my tattoo to the tiger there...which I exercised restraint and didn't do this past trip. Anyone in my area interested in getting in on this informal dining review? Let me know.
The very best part of the evening was seeing my old friend. There is something unique about being reunited with an old friend, because no matter how far apart you have drifted, only the kind of friends you bonded with in youth, before we put up all the walls that adults always do, can make you feel so happy and carefree...even if only for a couple of hours.
Of course, I don't know if that rings true if you take kids along, so don't chance it.