Monday, August 23, 2010

Does Brownwood Ever Cross Your Mind?

Workin' on it...

By the time I got to Brownwood, TX, I was feeling a bit peckish.  Nearly getting run over by a tanker truck can do that to you.  As I started out of town on 84 towards Coleman, I decided to pull into the Gomez Cafe.

To call this place a Mexican Food Cafe fails to give it its due.  It is that, of course, with a decor heavy on the sombreros, but in addition it is square in middle of a fine old tradition of Texas Roadhouse Vittles.  Redneck soul food.  Steaks, chops, chicken - o my, they have fried chicken livers!  That's a menu item well on it's way to the endangered edibles list.

I had to have it.

On the way in, I managed to circumnavigate a man mountain perched on a quivering chair that completely disappeared beneath him.  This guy was probably called "Tiny" in the seventh grade, but seldom since.  He was 600 lb. if he was a stone.  He surrounded a table all to himself, loaded down with platters.  I couldn't help thinking that if he keels over into that mountain of fries, they'll have to take out a wall to drag him away.

Such reflections did nothing to kill my appetite.  My appetite is the only part of me that still thinks I'm going to live forever.

The Gomez is truly an old fashioned kind of place.  Good food, lots of it, and don't spare the gravy.  The sort of place where they leave a pitcher of ice water and a squirt bottle of salad dressing resting permanently on your table, and the big red plastic water glasses advertise a local used car lot.  People don't take off their ball caps when they eat here, and excessive conversation is apparently considered an insult to the cook.

It's a place for serious eating.  Show a little respect.  If you can talk, your mouth ain't full, and why the hell not?

There were voices, though, floating down from the speakers above as from Heaven Itself.  I fully expected to hear the ghost of Paul Harvey muttering about "the rest of the story."  Not quite.  He must have been busy.

But Hank Williams, Jr., was definitely in residence:

"Why do you drink?
Why do you dope smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?"

O Man.  Eatin' greasy food and feeling sorry for yourself.  Does life get any better than this?  Well, there could be Beer.  I blame the local Baptists for holding back perfection.

To prime the pump, the waitress, who had perfected the persona of everybody's no-nonsense Aunt, brought out a big gratis basket of tortilla chips straight from the fryer, and an entire decanter of hot sauce, just so you don't run out.

When the livers came quickly behind, gliding in on a tray crowded with six other platters, it was a rare monument to engineering.  I picked up one of those home made french fries - the sort with the bark still on it - and a big crunchy liver fell off the plate and skittered across the table.  I caught it.

That platter redefined the concept of "full".  It was a balancing act, with the food arranged not side by side but in layers:  on bottom two large pieces of "Texas Toast", followed by a dozen or so large livers crowding a substantial salad toward and maybe a bit over the edge, and on top of everything was piled what looked like a half pound of french fries.  And don't forget the gravy, which well deserved a bowl unto itsownself.

O Man.  I did my best, but I couldn't eat it all.  As I happily stood at the door and paid my 8 bucks, another plaintive voice  descended softly from the radio:  "Does Ft. Worth ever cross your mind?"

Well, uh, no.  But Brownwood certainly does.

Burp.  Er... I mean



Anonymous said...

I believe this is where my son, who was learning to read, decided to read the entire menu and then ordered a hamburger.


Ed said...

I have been in Brownwood, TX but sad to say I didn't go to Gomez Cafe. That is an oversight I need to correct some time down the road.