I am staying in a rented house in North Carolina this week, waiting for my boys to finish having the times of their lives at a summer camp just up the mountain. I’m aware that it’s stupid to drive 10 hours for a summer camp when there are plenty of summer camps within an hour of my house. But this one is special. And Florida is more hot and flat and buggy than driving 10 hours was stupid, so we decided to do it.
Getting here wasn’t easy. It involved late night trips to CVS, googling quick fixes for severe constipation while also roadtripping (do not attempt to google this yourself. It only brings up ads for Dulcolax), fixing the constipation (not my own), driving on 3.5 hours of sleep with a car full of smelly boys who discuss their underwear far more than I expected, and then safely dropping them to some people who are willing to parent them in the woods for a week. It was something. Everything that went along with the constipation and its correction truly deserves a blog of its own, but the person in pain those days is a teen boy whom I love and would like to maintain a relationship with. So for now, just picture it and then let it go. I have.
After my friend and I got our respective kids settled at camp, we settled ourselves into the couch of our rented house and sighed with satisfaction. The world was our oyster. What would we do with ourselves for 5 more days? After sitting on our haunches for an hour, we decided to go to dinner. And we carefully selected who would take our money for this first meal without kids.
The first restaurant I came into contact with upon pulling into town Saturday night was Binion’s Roadhouse. I saw the sign, immediately leaped to bunions, pictured my grandmother’s 92 year old feet, and declared we would not be eating at that place.
That all changed after we walked into the posh, trendy, fairly-well-reviewed-on-Yelp Flat Rock Wood Room. Don’t ask me what a wood room is, because I don’t know. I didn’t get to find out. There were a lot of people standing around outside, making me think we might not get seated right away. But there were only two of us. So we did. Get seated. Right away. With menus. And that’s the last good thing that happened to me in the wood room.
So much time.
More than 15 minutes and not a single employee had made eye contact, told us they’d be right over, smiled. Nothing. So, finally–feeling existential and invisible–we walked out. No one saw us leave. We didn’t get to shake the gravel dust of that awful place off our feet in their direction because there was nobody to shake it on.
We didn’t have a plan B. Half the restaurants in Hendersonville are closed on Sundays. That’s a real thing. So our choices were limited. After driving around and searching our phones for a few minutes, you can guess where we ended up.
Binion’s was the place I’ve looked for all my life, but didn’t know existed. It was homemade squash casserole and buttery yeast rolls and crispy bacon on my Bacon Grilled Cheese sandwich. It was friendly service. It was perfection. It was SO perfect on the heels of the SO terrible Flat Rock, that I came home, picked up my computer, and reviewed Binion’s on Trip Advisor, which our server had said would give her a nice bonus. It is the first review I’ve ever written on a restaurant. I closed the lid of my laptop and the Informinator said, “You’re going to stop there? You’re not going to review Flat Rock?”
She had a point. So I opened my laptop back up and wrote the following.
We were really in the mood to try this place. We were even willing to be patient on a busy Sunday evening. But besides being spoken to and seated by the hostess, who pretty much couldn’t ignore us, not a single other employee looked our direction. We sat at a table with our menus for 15 minutes without a word or even a glance from any passing server. I began to wonder if I was actually there. Maybe no one could see me. We finally walked out because we couldn’t flag anyone down who wanted to feed us or take our money. We then drove across town to Binion’s Roadhouse, where we were served immediately and treated like royalty. Apparently we weren’t invisible after all. Flat Rock, you might be good to some people on some nights, but you stunk like old cheese to us tonight. But thanks for stinking, because we found Binion’s and that was a WIN.
So if you’re ever in Hendersonville, remember that I told you about Binion’s and schedule it into your week. You won’t be disappointed. You know what they say: never judge a restaurant by the bunions on your grandma’s feet.