Pigout in West Palm Beach

Park Avenue Barbecue and Grill

By: - Feb 08, 2024

In West Palm Beach we asked the concierge for a restaurant recommendation.

The Raindancer Steak House entailed hopping on 1-95 and finding the exit.

That’s daunting after dark in unfamiliar territory.

There was a quick and easier option of Cracker Barrel. On a busy highway of nothing but  chains it’s a better option. But with all the kitsch it seems there are nothing but crackers in those barrels, particularly below the Mason Dixon line.

So we took our chances in crazy traffic.

There were near misses in confusing lane shifts.

The steakhouse was within reach but on the other side entailing a challenging change of direction.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Park Avenue Barbecue and Grill.

A no brainer. Just what one hoped for.The manager was super friendly and attentive in getting us settled

It was a lively joint with a young and enthusiastic staff.

 I ordered St. Louis style ribs with collard greens and slaw as sides.

 Astrid settled on barbecue which is the Southern term for pulled pork. It came as a heaping portion half of which she took home.

 There was a selection of sauces in plastic squeeze bottles. I opted to try all of them from sweet and mild to scorching hot.

In both cases the meat was properly smoked, tender and full of flavor.

There were great vibes, affordable prices, and we returned a second night,

Great barbecue is hard to find and you can never get enough.

But it can be hit and miss.

Back on the road a motel had an attached restaurant.

That seemed like an easy and enticing option as it avoided hunting about after dark.

It was a simple and generic operation with a single server. She was rushed and somewhat distant. It was not Southern hospitality.

The menu was diverse, somewhat pricey, and included barbecue.

 I ordered burnt ends, a classic, but it proved to be a mistake. What was served was a mess of small, tough, dried up pieces and a generic sauce. I asked for hot sauce. There was none on the table and she was miffed. What arrived was a small bit of the same generic sauce. She asked for the fish fry grilled. It came dry and over cooked.

Oh well. It was better than the chains that we were trying and deleting. Red Lobster proved to be super disappointing, never again. Waffle House was a dump. Olive Garden is OK for soup and salad.   At Outback Steak House I was served a small, pathetic portion of non-descript steak. Ruby Tuesday it seems has a terrific salad bar. That we will gladly try again.

There we encountered a couple of Snow Birds from Buffalo. He latched on to us like a long lost friend and fellow traveler. Within minutes we knew his life story. Then he burst into a few bars of the eponymous Rolling Stones song. We had to pry ourselves away and get back on the road.

Our waitress at the road kill motel joint, who had been less than attentive, returned with the check. It was more than adding up what we ordered. Puzzled I asked for an explanation. Miffed she showed me the bill noting an automatic added 18% service charge.

The device she showed me to take a credit card included more options to increase the tip, as well as one to opt out. Boldly, I asked if I checked that box would she still get a tip.

Staring me down she said that yes, her 18% was locked in.

While not the first encounter with this policy it is generally found at private clubs and upscale restaurants. Not some two bit, mediocre eatery on the highway that serves more attitude than grub.

What has happened to the notion of a tip as proportionate to the quality of service. The irony is that, had she not pulled that griff,  I would have tipped the standard 20%. That’s the new normal of what used to be 15%. The payment devices now have options for 25% plus. Including, for a cup of Joe at Starbucks. It seems they are, excuse me, Baristas, with advanced degrees in high caffeine.

Remember when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee?