Hi, Mr Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen here. Out of desperation, Penny has invited me to do a guest post for the second time in as many years. She had nothing to write about. She was planning to write about Chicken Negimaki, a recipe from the NY Times that she tried for the first time last night. It sounded great….flattened chicken breasts, each wrapped around a couple of scallions that had been sauteed in soy sauce, mirin and garlic, then brushed with sesame oil and grilled while basting occasionally with the soy mixture left from cooking the scallions. Sounds wonderful and looks good, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the finished product didn’t live up to expectations…a little too salty from the soy sauce, and a little too dry, probably from me over cooking it on the grill. In any event, Penny said, “I can’t write about this…not until I work with it some more and get it to the point that we like it. Now what am I going to do?”
“Never fear,” I say. “Let me write about my trip to The Beacon for lunch today.” So here we go. I am a big fan of Guy Fieri’s show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I record it each week and watch every episode with paper and pencil in hand, making notes on any DDD that looks worthy of a visit. I have an extensive list now, organized by states, that I will take along on our next cross-country bike trip this fall. My intention is to check the list for an unusual place to have lunch wherever we happen to be around noon on any given day. I got a head start on the list by driving down to Spartanburg yesterday with my friend Jim to have lunch at the Beacon Drive In. Jim had been there before, but it was my first visit.
The Beacon has been an institution in Spartanburg for over 70 years. The present owners bought the place in 1998 and were allowed to do so by promising not to change a single thing. So, what you see today is pretty much what you would have seen over a half-century ago. You walk in and get in line to place your order with J. C. Strobble who is standing at the head of the serving line. JC has been calling orders at The Beacon for over 50 years. You tell JC what you want, and he calls it out loud and clear in diner-food speak to the cooks working behind him. JC is blind, but you would never know it. He is amazing to watch and to hear. And you better not hesitate too long to tell him what you want, or he will ask you to step aside so that someone behind you, who knows better what they want in life, can place their order. I had decided ahead of time to order the second most popular sandwich on the menu…the Outside Chop Pork Sandwich. By the time I uttered the first word, “outside”, JC called it out to the cooks and asked me only if it was to go or eat in.
Any sandwich can be ordered by itself or “A-Plenty”. A-Plenty means with a heap of both french fries and onion rings. The sandwich will be underneath there somewhere, hidden by all that fried goodness. Jim and I had decided that only one of us needed to order “A-Plenty” because there would be “plenty” of fries and onion rings for both of us. We agreed that Jim would order his Chili Cheeseburger (first most popular menu item) A-Plenty. As you can see, there were more than enough fries and rings for the two of us.
My pork sandwich was very tasty with large pieces of tender, juicy cut-up pork and a delicious sauce that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (even though it was all over my fingers). It’s a good thing they have rolls of paper towels on the tables.
After placing your order with JC, you move on down the line and your order will magically appear on the stainless steel counter in front of you about a minute after you placed it. A few more feet down the line, you can pick up a large styrofoam cup of your beverage of choice, the most popular by far being Beacon Ice Tea….loaded with sugar and lemon. The Beacon sells more ice tea than any other restaurant in the country.
At the end of the line, you pay the cashier, find a seat in one of the several dining areas, and enjoy. This lovely lady will take your tray when you are finished.
You might recall some of Penny’s posts from early last spring when we were doing the snow-bird thing in Florida and attending Weight Watchers meetings. I already have about 10 reasons to go back on WW when we get back to Florida, and by the time I get back from my motorcycle tour of other Triple D establishments this fall, I will undoubtably have several more reasons. I can’t wait….for the Triple D tour that is.