Day Thirteen. Going Ghetto.
March 23, 2011 § 3 Comments
Twice we have attempted to dine at Ann’s Snack Bar, home of the world-famous ghetto burger. Twice we have left after about twenty minutes, too hungry to sit for an unknown amount of time, waiting for the juicy load of meat on a bun. On Day Thirteen, we waited. And waited.
Patrick and I arrived at about 215 on a Monday afternoon, and found a couple of stools at the bar. This was a promising trip; before we never even waited long enough to get into the narrow diner style seating area.
Ann had just loaded the grill with over a dozen balls of ground beef. The bar smelled of cooking hamburger. Most of the other seats were taken, with a few people waiting for their lunch outside on the screened in porch area.
After about fifteen minutes a surly looking woman wearing sunglasses and a turban style hair net comes over and asks us if we are eating in, and what we would like to drink. She brings our huge sweet teas over and continues shuffling back and forth, gathering bags of fries from the freezer, standing over a pot and cutting up an onion like an apple. I wonder if the glasses help her eyes to not water as she deftly slices up the onion.
Watching the burgers, Ann sprinkles a healthy dose of what looks like Old Bay seasoning (her special mixture) over the grill, adding handfuls of the sliced onions over the lot of meat and continually flipping the patties and smushing them back into the heat with her spatula. We wonder which burgers will be ours, but considering we hadn’t even given our order, I feared we had longer to wait.
Patrick says that Clay Davis (corrupt senator from The Wire) would be at home in the joint, and as he starts to imitate the character’s catchphrase, his eyes go wide as he remembers the rules above our head. “No cursing in the bar.” An old southern dude sits at the other end of the counter, talking back and forth with the proprietor, laughing.
Ann adds cheese to the grill’s offerings and prepares some buns by tossing them into a small oven laden with pots of cooking goods. I watch her prepare the famous ghetto burger. Toasted bun. Smear some mayo on the bread. Squeeze a circle of ketchup and then mustard on both sides. Pour a ladle of chili from one of the simmering pots on the bottom bun. Layer two (TWO!) cheese-covered patties on top of the chili. Pull a couple slices of crisp bacon from somewhere between the pots on top of the stove and lay them on the top bun. Add a leaf of lettuce and a freshly sliced tomato. Marry the top and bottom buns and press down, cutting the whole mass of sandwich in half. Plate and serve.
She does this about eight or ten times, some going to the people at the counter on paper plates, some distributed in to-go bags to either seated patrons or those who have ordered and are waiting outside in the covered area.
At this point, we had been sitting for about an hour, never having ordered. We resign ourselves to the fact that we may only be half-way done. After Ann rings up individuals at the cash register in the middle of the counter, the entire process begins again. She comes to us to take our order. I go with the world-famous ghetto burger and Patrick chooses the hood burger, with its added ingredient of coleslaw. Our tea is low and doubting that we get a refill, we decide to save what remains to wash down our burgers that should be coming in about an hour.
While we sit, a few people try to come into the bar area, but no stools are available. Ann tells them to wait outside. If they don’t understand, she says it louder, and a patron or her assistant informs them that they have to wait for a stool. I grin to myself; this is exactly what you were supposed to expect coming here.
Finally, after an hour and a half of sitting, our food is delivered to us at the end of the counter. It’s a hot mess. It looks so much messier and so much more delicious than the Big Mac I tried on Day Ten. And it tastes like what you would expect. Messy, flavorful, meaty goodness.
I eat half of mine before realizing I am in peril of developing meat eye. Patrick is insistent on eating as much of his hood sandwich as possible, but even he leaves a few bites. The burger is quite yummy, but I am no burger aficionado. Ultimately, it’s the whole experience of eating at Ann’s Snack Bar that is the real treat. And it lived up to all expectations.
When Ann brought us our lunch, she asked if it was good. We nodded the affirmative in between mouthfuls of sauciness running down our faces and chins. She apologized for it taking so long. I guess it really does say something when even Ann notices how long you’ve sat at the bar.