Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ribs at Rendezvous

The hardest part of any long road trip is finally settling in to the car, turning the engine over and putting the gear in to drive. In what would eventually become a 1,870 tour around the "Upland South" part of the country involving five states, I began my drive at about 2PM one afternoon, lighting out from Dallas to Memphis, Tennessee where I would stop for the evening. My destination was Carbondale, Illinois which despite at least a ten-hour planned drive according to Mapquest.Com was actually easier and more affordable to drive to than fly in to any one of about four airports close by that would reduce the drive to three hours or less, Memphis included. I had all the time in the world and no particular hurry to be there so Memphis, here I come.

Memphis is a town I've been through on numerous occasions, nearly all at high speed on my way to or from Texas or the East Coast. I've never spent much time there outside of one day-trip visit to Graceland. On this occasion it would be another overnighter as I was again on my way somewhere else, leaving many offerings and attractions still to be discovered for another time. This time, however, after six and a half hours on the road, I rolled in to town looking first for a place to grab some dinner and it was a no-brainer where I most wanted to go. My only concern was at eight-thirty in the evening whether or not the place would still take seatings or if they would be winding up for the night.

I needn't have worried. "Charles Vergos' Rendezvous," or "Rendezvous" for short, was doing a roaring business on a Thursday night. I'm not a GPS kinda guy so it took me a bit of driving around the central part of the city. I'd eaten there once before and figured where it would most likely be, not too far from Beale Street or the Peabody Hotel. I found the alley entryway and headed downstairs where the exceedingly bored looking hostess suggested I try the bar if I wanted a table at all anytime soon.

Sweet tea and a mixed plate consisting of half a slab and chopped chicken did the trick for me. It was during this meal that I finally allowed myself to declare that I'm not a fan of the famous "dry-rub" style of ribs. Dry rubs need a very fatty meat to help them go down smoothly; the service was fast and the food piping hot but after two bones I reached for a bottle of the "mild" sauce to finish off the ribs and the sadly old tasting chicken. Almost thirty dollars later with tip I left quite full but not as satisfied as I would have hoped.

"Rendezvous" has a dedicated and loyal following so it is not just hype that keeps the place hopping. As one of the most famous restaurants in town its reputation is well earned. As one of the many tourist attractions at the same time I can easily say I've been there, done that and am ready to move on.

Gotta go.

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