Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday evening at Tommy's.

Maury Goldberg is a former New Albany city councilman, a Lion’s Club stalwart, and a habitué of Tommy Lancaster’s Restaurant.

If ever there were such a thing as a civic institution, Tommy Lancaster’s qualifies for landmark status. It has been nestled on Market Street within spitting distance of the rail crossing since the early years of the Eisenhower administration, and the founding Lancaster family still ran the establishment until 2004 or thereabouts.

While it is true that there have been periodic updates at Tommy’s, jalapeno poppers, designer salads and draft Blue Moon among them, America’s imperial Betty Crocker era cuisine (fried chicken and fixings on the buffet table) remains the restaurant’s chief selling point, and with each passing year, the restaurant increasingly resembles a museum as much as a place of business – and as I’ve come to realize, that’s a considerable compliment to them.

What they do, they continue to do quite well. As the Curmudgeon ages, his thoughts begin to turn to meat loaf and mashed potatoes; not necessarily how they taste, but what they mean.

Broadly speaking, I inhabit a world of symbolic objects, and it didn’t dawn on me until recently that the upholstered booths, venerable paneling, uniformed servers and other manifestations of my childhood in the 1960’s need not exclusively represent discordant notions in need of fleeing. Perhaps they might also symbolize the good intentions of the post-war era. Honest food and drink at a fair price, and offered in a clean, well-lighted place, need not be the realm of contemporary Miller High Life television ads. We all own a piece of it.

It remains that Tommy’s is not a frequent haunt, although we enjoy taking my mother to eat there every Thanksgiving. Beer’s the thing, and there is little in the way of good beer there, but that’s where Maury comes into the picture. On behalf of the new owners, he asked me to come, make a sales pitch on behalf of NABC and offer a bit of education about craft beer. It seems that they’re interested in a local draft product.

And so it occurred. I brought a sampling of NABC drafts in growlers, and a date was made for me to return next Tuesday to offer samples of Community Dark to the regulars who come in for $1.50 draft night. I met a fellow who collects Hot Wheels model cars, chatted with the bartender who started work the year I was born, and was pleased to note management’s interest in local products. We may have a beer on tap at Tommy's in a few weeks.

It was an informative and educational evening.

For me.

1 comment:

Highwayman said...

Bravo to both Roger and Maury for their combined efforts.

One never knows where an astute ear and an open mind might be waiting in anticipation of something new tastfully blended with something old.