Burger mania -- and cocktail-napkin sketches -- at Broken Record
CHEAP EATS Some things in life just smell way better than they taste, Kentucky Fried Chicken being an obvious example. There are two kids named Boink and Popeye the Sailor Baby who will one day wonder why their nanny used to take them to Jackson Park all the time. Alameda has a lot of nice playgrounds featuring state-of-the-art sliding boards and other nice touches, such as other children. What Jackson Park has, besides abandoned shopping carts, riff-raff, and a bus stop, is Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I've never been inside, but I'm glad it's there. And the kids ... well, even without all the bright-colored plastic, they find plenty to do. They scrape the bark off of piss-soaked trees with little sticks and look for unusual bugs while their grownup stands nearby, nose to the Colonel, and dreams.
If there's one thing I will take from my two years as a nanny besides neck and shoulder issues, some permanent hearing loss, and an addiction to migraine medicines, I mean well, wisdomwise, I have learned a lot. But the one lesson that really stands out is this: that, though you show a kid a waterfall, wildlife, redwood trees, and sunset, they will be infinitely more fascinated by leaf blowers.
Mind you, this is not to even mention their fascination of fascinations: the garbage truck. You can take my word for it, because nannies know more kids than most parents do. It's as true as math: the sweeter the adorable little angel, the more obsessed with garbage trucks they will be. And no amount of exposure to Yosemite will help.
Who knows? Maybe it's innately wise to take natural wonders for granted. When you are one yourself.
Of course, the reverse is also true: some things in life taste way better than they smell. (Fish sauce. I rest my case.)
The point I want to make about bacon fries is that they smell way better than they taste, and they taste (are you ready for this?) ... absolutely insanely wonderfully delicious. Go figure! Who would have guessed that french fries, already one of the best things in life, could be improved on by the best thing in life? And here's where I wish I had actually invented my dream punctuation, the sarcastic mark, instead of just talking about it for 25 years.
Of course ... bacon fries!!!
Where to get them is Broken Record, the great bar with the even greater backroom kitchen, way out in the Excelsior District. I'm pretty sure that people have been telling me about Broken Record for a long time. "Broken Record," they said. "Broken Record ... Broken Record ... Broken Record," they said and said and said. If only I could think of a way to describe what this sounded like.
Nor am I proud to admit that I didn't listen. Then: the bar, or the restaurant part of the bar changed hands, or chefs, word was, and alas I had missed the boat. The assumption being that the new people would ruin a good thing, and I, being more than a believer being an all-out act of entropy, found this reasonable to assume.
But change is change. A good thing can go bad, or vice versa, or a good thing can change into an entirely different good thing. Hold on a second, my estrogen patch is coming loose. Or I was saying you can just leave the judgment out of it and say that things change.
All I know is I was playing late-night soccer one night out at Crocker, and afterward some folks were getting a beer, and invited me along, and I said no thank you and they said, "bacon fries."
And just like that a new favorite restaurant was born. All I want to do now is play late-night soccer at Crocker. And I haven't even tried their burgers yet! Supposedly they trim off all the beef fat and grind it themselves, replacing the beef fat with bacon fat.
Why would anyone ever eat a burger anywhere else, not to mention fries? I can think of reasons. Well, geography, for one. But why would anyone live anywhere but here?
I comfort myself with thoughts of sausages. And the knowledge that technically, I did invent the sarcastic mark. I know exactly what it looks like, and have drawn it many times on cocktail napkins, as well as regular napkins.
Mon.Sat., 6 p.m.11 p.m.;
Sun., 6 p.m.10 p.m.
1166 Geneva, SF
L.E. Leone's new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.