A few weeks ago, I attended a family reunion held in northern Wisconsin. There's nothing like a weekend full of family reminiscing ... and lots of meat -- at every meal, and snacks in between.
Don't get me wrong. Meat is good, but I prefer it in moderation. That weekend, moderation was nowhere to be found; I ate more meat in four days than I did in all of 1999.
Upon my return to Colorado, meat has been a low priority on the food list. So I was pretty surprised when barely a week after the family meatfest, I sat down at Rudy's, scanned the menu and it all sounded good. Mouthwatering good. The menu included choices of meat, meat, meat or fish. Subsequently, I went with meat. Nary a vegetable to be found, other than accompanying the main entres.
Rudy's is located just off of B Street, a hop, skip and a jump from Ft. Carson, which probably explains the meat- and potato-heavy menu. But for now I'm going to just pretend that Rudy is either from the deep South, the Midwest or a ranch.
Though B Street is not my normal stomping ground, I always find interesting things when I'm out that way and Rudy's is no exception. The place has a nice diner-like feel to it, though not the old been-around-forever, tobacco-stained feel. More like fresh retro meets Grandma's kitchen. The bright red pleather booths, jukebox and vintage photos say retro; the checkered tablecloths and aroma of homecooking say please come in and sit down, which is actually what the waitress said to me.
Incredibly friendly, almost like she was happy to see me, the hostess/waitress led me to a table, then disappeared for a moment but was back instantly with a menu and huge glass of water. Perhaps she was unaware that I was simply a civilian in unfamiliar territory. Perhaps she's just a nice, unusually upbeat person. Either way, the friendly and attentive service was much appreciated, as it was a rainy, chilly, dreary afternoon and I was running almost on empty.
The clientele at two in the afternoon included five beefy guys (no pun intended), one family and me. Except for the family, we were all dining alone. Best I could see, everyone who had food had a burger -- an enormously thick burger, accompanied by lots of fries. It looked good and before I even glanced at the menu I decided that's what I was going to order. But then I opened the menu and food indecision set in big-time.
The menu is divided into three sections: Country Cookin' Favorites, Burgers and Sandwiches. It all looked good and was loaded with solid standards like the Philly Cheese Steak and the French Dip. But the Country Cookin' section eventually won. There, in big, black, bold letters were the words "Open Faced Roast Beef."
This has been my comfort food of choice since I was six. I can't even begin to imagine how it came to be that this particular plate comforts me, but a good hot open-faced roast beef sandwich on thick slabs of bread, accompanied by mashed potatoes and lots and lots of gravy settles my soul.
After I ordered I continued to watch the guys eat their burgers, wondering if I had made the right decision, until out of the corner of my eye I saw the waitress enthusiastically heading my direction. As she approached my table, I knew I had made the right choice.
Gravy dripped off of the plate as she happily set it in front of me. Totally soaked in brown gravy, the roast beef was piled high on a thick piece of bread, resting against a huge mound of homemade mashed potatoes. Somewhere beneath everything I believe there were also green beans. They were a thoughtful touch, but my main concern was the tender roast beef, the gravy-soaked bread and the buttery potatoes. It all came together just right. My meat moratorium was off for the moment.
I guess like any true and good Midwesterner, throw a fine cut of meat in front of me, prepared and seasoned to perfection, and I go weak in the knees. Slather it in gravy and I melt. Rudy's turned me into Jell-O.