When I first moved to Athens from DC nearly fifteen years ago, that Atlanta was “so close” was a plus. Then I found out that depending on traffic, the 65-mile trip can take anywhere from one to three hours. There are several different routes I can take–none of them pleasant. I’ve reached the point where I won’t go to Atlanta without a court order or subpoena.
My partner got tickets for us to see a matinee performance of Wicked at the beautiful Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. We decided to make a day of it. Since we would be in town, in addition to the one o’clock show, we decided to hang around for dinner at one of the numerous restaurants we don’t have here in Athens.
Thanks to the GPS and light traffic, we made it to the Fox and found parking without incident. Someone had to show me how to use the machine to pay for parking. The gracious lady behind me told me step-by-step how to do it. Enter your parking space number (which I fortunately had noted), swipe your card (no, the other way…no…here, let me show you), and then take the receipt and place it on the dashboard.
Though we were a good thirty minutes early, the lobby of the Fox was packed. After a five dollar hotdog and four sips from a three dollar coke I tossed in the trash because I didn’t think I could take it into the theater, we made our way to our seats (five rows back from the orchestra pit…woo hoo!). A family sat down next to us with a giant tub of popcorn and cokes for everyone. Oh well, I didn’t need all the calories anyway.
When I lived in DC, we used to hop the Trailways bus for day trips to New York City to see shows on Broadway. I’m a huge fan of musicals (yeah, I’m gay–what did you expect?) and frequently take in traveling shows that come through town. I have no idea how many shows I’ve seen, but it’s more than a few. I consider Wicked to be one of the best, right up there with Miss Saigon (my all-time favorite) and Phantom of the Opera. For the curious, my least favorite shows of all time are Rent and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Saturday evening I researched restaurant options. First I checked on restaurants owned by Richard Blais of Top Chef fame. He has Flip Burger and Haute Dog. Seriously. A Top Chef grand champion runs a burger joint and a hot dog stand. After looking at PDFs of menus from a dozen or more places, we decided on Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles. A friend said they have a line out the door every time she’s driven by, so we figured it had to be good.
Fortunately, there was hardly any line at all. The hostess said our wait would be forty-five minutes or less and that the credit card machine wasn’t working so we’d have to pay with cash. Fortunately, they had an ATM machine conveniently located between the restrooms that only charged me three dollars extra.
While we were waiting, I couldn’t help but admire a steady parade of black women wearing absolutely fabulous shoes. The outfits they wore looked like hooker attire, but the shoes were sensational. I’m talking about five-inch heels in every color of the rainbow. I’d love to pick up a few pairs to wear to work, but worry that my height (6’7″ with heels) would attract undue attention.
Then I noticed the sign on the window, just over the store hours in the same gold-painted block print. No weapons allowed. An Atlanta policeman in uniform was stationed just inside the door. Welcome to Atlanta.
We had to wait the full forty-five minutes to be seated. The menu is built around record themes (Grammy Winners, Warm-Ups, Side Shows) that didn’t make much sense to me. I was also surprised that given the number of breakfast foods on the menu, they don’t open until eleven o’clock. I finally settled on fried chicken (a breast and two wings) with a side of collard greens and squash casserole.
The fried chicken was pretty good–like my Granny used to make. The collards were bland and tasted a lot like cardboard. The squash casserole was just sliced yellow squash cooked with butter and onions and liberally sprinkled with sugar. I was expecting some cheese and either breadcrumbs or crackers or something.
The service left a lot to be desired. We had to wait another thirty minutes or so for our food, never got a requested glass of water, and after we were finished eating, waited another fifteen or twenty minutes for the check. Since I paid with cash (and hence, the waiter had no way of knowing my name so he could track me down), the tip I left reflected the service we received.
On the return trip to Athens we ran into heavy traffic. I suspect it was students returning to Athens from Atlanta. Athens always clears out over the weekend for away football games. We made it home by a little after seven then treated ourselves to some much-deserved cake and ice cream. Apparently, I’m retaining either fried chicken or cake as I’d gained a pound when I weighed in this morning. Oh well, it’s another week which we’ll be spending right here in…
My Glass House