Even the smallest towns offer a choice of places where you can taste what’s on tap or sip a Shiraz fresh from a new box. But in the end a worthy watering hole is not measured by the pint or the sleeve or the glass. And while the wings may be hot, they are not the criteria by which a great bar is judged any more than the cheese on the nachos, the felt on the pool tables, the feathers on the darts or the cleavages the waitresses reveal.
“Do you have a veggie plate?”
This is where the Hose meets the Hound; where the Rose meets the Crown. Asked to produce a plate of crudities, ninety-nine out of a hundred pub servers will respond with “I’ll ask the kitchen” and return with “no.” At this point, three kinds of establishments survive the crunch. The first will grudgingly throw together a few carrots and a stalk of celery with a side of ranch. The second will do essentially the same thing but with an embarrassing flourish. The celery will be cut thin and curved and the carrots will be topped with a sprig of parsley.
The third contender, and the only one deserving of a real raw-rah, actually describes its veggie plate on the menu. When delivered, it includes cauliflower, broccoli, sliced peppers and tomatoes, mushrooms and of course celery and carrots. This veritable garden of goodness is accompanied by a choice of ranch, blue cheese or dill dip.
Far from derogatory comments, the arrival of this of freshness will encourage among other patrons comments like “I should have ordered that” and “these ribs are a little greasy, don’t you think?”
But whether you order the veggie plate or not, the fact that it is offered says a lot about the place where you’ve chosen to watch the Canucks win the Stanley Cup or Kyle Busch cause “the big one” at Talladega. The meaty clumps of cauliflower and crispness of the carrots speak to a larger commitment to a pleasurable pub experience in a place where everyone knows not only your name but your desire to look good in a Speedo.
In such a place, the veggie plate is the tip of the iceberg lettuce.