Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 22: International Southern Hospitality

spring rolls!

Pork and shrimp spring rolls primped up a bit at Hsu’s in downtown Atlanta.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

Those of you who’ve been following this miniseries from the beginning may be a tad disgruntled by the complete lack of food pics from our vacation. We covered a few mealtimes, but we’ve been setting aside much of the culinary side…until now.

Some dishes were simpler than others. All were served with utmost congeniality. Only one took a little longer than we would’ve preferred. But the most important trait of all is not a single one of them barred us from entering due to dress codes. It’s cool being accommodated rather than shunned.

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Our 2019 Super Bowl Deserted Restaurant Getaway

Cuban Creme Brulee!

I’m a grown-up and I can skip to the dessert photo if I wanna. Behold the Cuban Creme Brûlée — espresso custard topped with caramelized sugar, Chantilly cream, shaved chocolate, and raspberries. 11/10 would gladly eat first next time.

Each year our family has indulged in our own special Super Bowl tradition: while the rest of the world is watching football and swapping snacks and beers with best friends and chatting about The Sports, we have dinner at a fancy restaurant. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., anyplace without a large-screen TV is usually empty and totally ours for the taking.

Usually we’ll try someplace we’ve never been elsewhere in town, but this year we stuck to Indianapolis’ west side and head up the road to Rick’s Cafe Boatyard, where my son and I hadn’t been in many, many years. Once known as Rick’s Café Americain Restaurant, it’s located on the shore of sometimes scenic Eagle Creek Reservoir. Over half their menu is seafood, but they also offer chicken specialties, artisan pizzas, and fancy sandwiches to pacify any fish-haters or tag-along allergic diners.

As expected, only a few other families were on the premises. For lack of competing tables, service was speedy and friendly. We did our best to ignore the half-dozen TVs hanging from the ceiling and threatening to keep us in the loop on a sport none of us follows. We did catch a glimpse of Gladys Knight singing the National Anthem, but otherwise focused on fun conversation and mostly fine food.

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Our 2017 Super Bowl Deserted Restaurant Getaway

Picanha!

Picanha, a.k.a. garlic sirloin, one of Anne’s favorite bites of the night.

Each year my wife Anne and I have indulged our own special Super Bowl tradition: while the rest of the world is watching football and swapping snacks and beers with best friends and chatting about The Sports, the two of us have dinner at a fancy restaurant we’ve never tried before. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., anyplace without a large-screen TV is usually deserted and totally ours for the taking.

The last few years have also seen Super Bowl Sunday coincide with a local event called Devour Downtown, in which dozens of upscale establishments in downtown Indianapolis offer a limited-time sort of blue-plate special that allows plebes like us to come in and sample their cuisine from a specially selected discount menu. It’s still a bit pricier than five-dollar footlongs, but in our experience the quality has always been immeasurably higher, no matter where we’ve gone. This year the event was merged with several others of its kind, expanded citywide, and renamed Devour Indy. We ended up heading downtown anyway, but it’s nice to know we’ll have more compass options in the years ahead.

Tonight’s feature presentation: Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse with over two dozen American locations in addition to their flagships back home. For one solid price that was more than we would ever dream of paying for non-special occasions, their Devour Indy special offered a buffet of fancy unlimited appetizers, while the waiters approached every table with a few unlimited side dishes and numerous small yet unlimited meat portions all prepared in the Brazilian way, by which I mean they were made of meat. Good enough for us.

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PBJ, Doritos, and Milk by Candlelight

candlelightI’m not sure if it’s reached national headlines, but this afternoon a severe storm front swept through the Midwest, took at least five lives in Illinois, and destroyed numerous structures between here and there, according to the most recent Indianapolis Star update as of this writing. (See this link for footage from Lebanon — a town halfway between our house and my son’s apartment — of a tornado that swept through the area. Among other damages, it later flipped a semi and took out a Starbucks.) Our prayers are with those currently in the midst of unthinkable tragedy as a result of the day’s upheaval.

We Hoosiers are no strangers to destructive weather. Our TV meteorologists panic more often than most of us do. It’s absolutely horrifying whenever worst-case scenarios do occur. We’ve been coached all our lives on what to do in that event; more often than not, though, all we suffer is unusual inconvenience — a broken shingle here, a leveled bush there, some broken siding on rare occasion.

Tonight, those treacherous storms ruined our dinner.

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