Thursday, October 20, 2011

When I Became a Man

Tiffany Tavern
1116 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

In I Corinthians Saint Paul said, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child…"

I remember the first time I visited Old Town Alexandria, Virginia; the veritable 19th century theme park resting on the Potomac River outside Washington, DC. 

It's that in that sad part of occupied Northern Virginia haunted by the memories and populated by the graves of revolutionaries and rebels. It's very streets were once walked by George Washington and Robert E. Lee; American history incarnate.

I was in college then and we were attending a conference in the area in late frigid February.

We took a long cold bus ride down brick sidewalks, among the old row houses and store fronts on the psuedo gas lamp lit King Street till we finally reached our stop.

Like most college coeds. We picked the bar that was most conducive to our place in life - plenty of hard drinking and skirt chasing.

While waiting for an underage friend to get in with his not exactly authentic ID we sang "Sweet Caroline" and downed the cheapest American puke beer on the menu.

But nearly ten years have passed and times for me have changed.

In my latest visit to Old Town I found myself drawn to different attractions. Namely visiting the numerous antique stores that dot the neighborhood while spending moments reflecting on the history of the locale.

Strolling down King Street I noticed the Tiffany Tavern. A small place stuffed in-between French restaurants and chain coffee shops.

The sign on the outside proudly advertised, "The best Bluegrass, Burgers and Open Mike in town!" 

This bold claim sounded like a place fit for a suit.

Upon entering, I was struck by how different it was from the bar I visited a decade earlier during my college salad days.

The cliental is older on average with grey hair abound.

It's a place you could picture your grandfather in. The music is even the kind your grandparents would have played on the clock radio in their kitchen during a Sunday dinner.

Like the scent of old spice or a neighborhood barber shop, there's something classic and comforting about the atmosphere at the Tiffany Tavern.

Pictures of what appears to be dames from the early 20th century grace the wood paneled walls. The only TV in the place, a now outdated CRT, sits on a shelf turned off.

The only entertainment is conversation and the abundance of live upbeat but sad bluegrass songs.

As a result, there's no drunk overzealous guys yelling at their team while a clearly bored girlfriend sits next to them. Or a groups of rowdy twenty-somethings doing the weekend drunken mating dance.

Just the shouts of "YEE HAWW" fill the air after a particularly good banjo solo.

The music prompted a lovely German girl sitting next to me at the bar to lean over and say, "This music is so American."

Upon hearing it, my chest momentarily filled with pride even though I'm not a particularly nationalistic guy.

Yes, it is very American! And sure, this could be the best bluegrass in town!

But what about the burgers?

After perusing the menu I settled on the Greek Burger; a "Tiffany Tavern special."

This burger featured 8 oz of ground Angus beef that was charcoal broiled and topped with with a large brick of feta cheese and finished off with sautéed mushrooms. Naturally, it had lettuce, tomato, and pickles on the side.

Now I'm no Greek, but upon first glance, I thought that other than the huge piece of feta cheese the burger didn't seem particularly Hellene.

A couple other initial downsides was the cold, untoasted bun and the meager portion of onion rings.

However, when I bit into the burger and friend onions I was struck by the familiar taste of down home greasy spoon diner fare. The kind of goodies your parents eat with their friends at the corner restaurant after Sunday church service.

In other words, I wouldn't come to the Tiffany Tavern expecting a gourmet burger made from a fine cut, aged, steak that they dropped into the grinder when you placed your order. 

You're not going to read news stories about Obama and Biden stopping by the Tiffany Tavern for lunch on their way to the Oval Office - there's no pretension here.

It's pretty simple, straightforward, good ol' boy type stuff. Food for when food isn't the only reason you visit a place.

I'm not sure at what point in a man's life he stops being that young pup who's eager to chase every stray cat he sees up a tree and becomes that content older dog laying on porch just watching the wind blow.

But when you've graduated to being that wiser, more deliberate dog or you're just in the mood for a slow refuge from the mayhem and moral corruption that is the US capitol, the Tiffany Tavern's good music, great atmosphere, nice people, and decent food is the place to go.

Like Saint Paul wrote, "…when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Rating:  Seriously Thought About Buying the Shirt

No comments:

Post a Comment