Style Over Substance
It used to be my favorite restaurants all had a phrase in common – “Most Major Credit Cards Accepted.” These days I look for places that have been around 25 years +, with bonus points for 50 years plus. Eleanor’s apparently falls into the former longevity category, at least according to the review I read in a local newspaper – which is what motivated me to seek out the E.U.’s burger today. Don’t worry, I didn’t intentionally increase the size of my carbon footprint and drive 100 miles just for a burger; a secondary motivation was to get the hell out of the heat of the city – it was 30 degrees cooler at the beach!
The review I read said that this was the burger to end all burgers. With that in my head, I headed cross-country, eschewing even the car’s AC, and pulled into Lincoln City after sitting in beach-bound traffic for far too long. I easily found parking on the street nearby, despite the fact that there were at least 100 people waiting i line at some famous chowder house across the street.
Fortunately for me, there was no line at Eleanor’s, which is a modest establishment, primarily an ice-cream parlor, with a couple pool tables and a short hot-foods menu. Three senior men (which means they were older than me) manned the counter and the grill. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, was prepared to ask for a side of fries, when I spotted the disclaimer “Eleanor’s does no deep-frying on the premises.” OK. So sandwiches are served with a small bag of Ruffles, which suits me fine, anyway.
I asked the counter man if the burgers came with condiments, he said I could apply my own. He asked me my name for when the order was ready, he would announce it. I told him my name, took a Sioux City Sasparilla (2 in two weeks, wow!), and looked at the pictures on the wall, some of the crap they had for sale, wandered out front, out back, and bided my time in the 30 degree cooler atmosphere. Which was worth the drive in itself.
He called my name, and slide the standard red plastic basket across the counter, a standard looking patty with broiler melted cheese covering the bacon. A few pieces of lettuce and two tomato slices lay to one side, along with the top portion of the bun, and the bag o’ Ruffles.
I decorated it with mustard and dill pickle chips, and made my way back to my Sasparilla. I cut the sandwich in half, which is my habit, and lifted one half to my lips, prepared to taste “the burger worth driving two hours for.”
I bit, and chewed slowly and thoughtfully, waiting for some secret seasoning to awaken my palate.
Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nothing.
It was just a burger, probably from Sysco or Costco.
I finished it off tho, and dumped the disposable portions of my tray into the trash, and returned the basket and empty bottle to the counter.
The counterman caught my eye, and said “that hit the spot, Peter?” (remembering my name from when I placed the order).
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was to me. I love people in the hospitality business who are genuinely hospitable, and admire anyone in the restaurant business, because it’s terribly hard work.
My point is in the headline to this piece…. sometimes style trumps substance, in most any part of life. It did today in Lincoln City. It was the best damned burger I ever had.