Thursday, July 07, 2011

My day at Slows

I've been trying to eat lunch at Slows Bar B Q in Detroit on Wednesdays of late.  Not only is the food delicious, the staff is so friendly and accommodating that I feel at home.  It is one of the shining lights of Detroit, along with Michael Symon's Roast at the revitalized Book Cadillac Hotel.  Today was a fine example of superb hospitality.
When I strolled in at 4:30, my favorite Detroit based bartender, Heather, greeted me with a radiant smile, asking, "Are those Courts keeping you away from us?  Don't they know you need to be here earlier?"
I smiled, and explained, "Computer problems today, no court."
"What will you have?"  Per normal protocol, I let her pick my drink, although she made me taste the beer first.
Later on, she asked if I wanted to eat.  I explained that I was starving, but had promised my boys that we would deal with the leftovers in the fridge.  "A snack then.  What about a brisket enchilada?"
It was loud in the restaurant, and I couldn't hear her very well, but nodded in approval, figuring anything that came out of the kitchen would be scrumptious. My dish was served by Nurse Elizabeth, a bartender at the establishment two doors down from Slows, whom I had met a couple of Fridays past, on the day she had passed her nursing boards.  She recognized me (amazing to me as I was dressed in my work clothes, not a tropical shirt and shorts like when I first met her) and told me, "I have an interview tomorrow, and I am so nervous."  I tried to reassure her, telling her, "Why?  You;ll be great."  She smiled, and said, "I hope so."
Next, the wine buyer and manager, Tara came by.  She set a glass in front of me and poured the rest of a delightful Spanish white wine.  I accepted it with a smile and a thank you, and sipped.  The first impression was of green apples, but as it breathed, the mineral flinty-ness took over and I noted a delicate finish.  Served chilled, it was perfect for summer, and when Tara returned to inquire, I advised her of my impressions.  She smiled and said she thought the same things about the wine.
Heather, returning to my place at the bar, asked, "You just have wine bottles appear in front of you?"
"When I'm lucky," I replied.
My beer was gone and Heather returned.  "Something else?" she inquired.
"What do you recommend?"
"You usually move on to bourbon," she responded.  "You want me to pick?"
"I always do.  I trust you."
She poured me a couple of fingers in a rocks glass, and I saw her inhaling the aroma before she set my drink before me.  "It smells really good today." she advised.
"That's good.  I though maybe it had gone bad."  She shook her head, and moved off to serve another patron at the busy bar.
At 5 or so, Heather advised me, "I'm leaving now.  Your lunch was on me."
I stared at her, dumbstruck and speechless.  Finally, I managed, "Can I tip you, at least?" failing to thank her properly.
She grinned at me.  "Next time.  You will be back, right?"
"You can count on that."
I let the new bartender pick out my next bourbon, after my choice was found to be wanting, both on the shelf and in the reserves.  Tara, as she left, came by to bid me farewell, and I made a point to thank her for the wine.
I never had a chance to wish Nurse Elizabeth the best of luck at her interview, but it was busy and I didn't want to be a distraction.
I love Detroit.  I don't venture into the more questionable neighborhoods, but with reasonable precautions, it is a great place to visit.  And if you ever get a chance to go to Slows, try the pulled pork or the brisket.  It's so good, you could plotz.
All in all, as Richard Dreyfus said in Let it Ride:  "I'm having a very good day."

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