I posted what I could of my morning news before I had to tend to some pressing errands “in town.” You may recall that I used to live “in town,” but now I live on what I’ll call the “outskirts.” The “sticks.” The “country.” This means if I have to do anything that involves me going to Benton or Bryant – or heck, even Shannon Hills, which is my nearest city anymore – then that to-do gets tacked onto a cluster with other to-dos.
As I am learning to be a country girl, I have discovered that keeping enough gas in the car is more important than ever, and also that if I can’t get something in Shannon Hills, then it’s going to take me 30 minutes to get there. I mean I can really appreciate now when the Sheriff deputies say a call could take them 45 minutes to get from East End to Paron. There’s no way I could get from down there to up there in that amount of time. But then I don’t have sirens and a light bar. Yet.
All that to tell you I clustered some errands today. I called my mom about 2 p.m. and ordered valet service so I do those to-dos while the folks at Ramsey Tire in Bryant get a look at my front passenger tire. Last time I visited them, it was because I hit a big sticky-uppy thing on the side of Vimy Ridge Road. If you drive through there often, you’ll know the sticky-uppy thing I’m talking about. It’s an evil piece of concrete that beckons a driver’s unsuspecting axle to come bite a chunk off. Well I did. Dang iceberg of a thing. But that’s not what I hit this time. And nevermind what I hit the time before! In fact, this time, I do not know what I hit! Lol I really don’t, so I’ll just blame it on icy potholes. Probably some liquid spawn of that sticky-uppy thing.
This new and trendy flat kept me from the first service at Midtowne Church on Sunday morning even though I worked really hard to make sure I got out the door on time after “springing forward.” As my daughter groaned, I said “It’s okay. These things tend to present opportunities.”
She dubiously asked, “What opportunities would that be?”
I said, “Now someone has the opportunity to serve us!”
Then I tweeted a neighbor, Darren Corbin, who happily packed his family in the car and picked up my daughter and me also for the second service. Thank you kindly, Darren! Incidentally, he’s the Captain at Northeast Saline County Fire Department on Kling Road, so he’s used to rescuing people I guess.
After church, my parents picked us up, we had lunch and then confronted the tire issue. Mom and Dad said that I needed to do the doing, which I knew how to do, but I usually didn’t because someone else did. I did need help unsticking the bolts, so imaging my 72-year-old dad whacking at the tire iron with a two-by-four. Got it? Ok, because that’s what happens when you don’t have one of those fancy mechanic wrenches that go “zip zip” and the bolts are off. Once I dismounted the tire, I couldn’t find the leak, so I aired it up with that really loud portable pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter car outlet. Still couldn’t figure it out, so I put it back on the car my son showed up and put it back on the car. I vowed to check it the next day. That’s Monday.
Fast forward back to this afternoon when I met my mom at Ramsey’s. Do you know that these guys make me feel like a doggone celebrity when I walk in there? It might be because I give them so much repeat business – ha! The owner, Johnny, wrote up my ticket himself and then I went to do the other “in town” things in my cluster o’ to-dos. It was about 3 p.m. by this time and I needed to vote in the Bryant School Millage election before 4:30. Yes, I could wait until the day of the election, but if I vote early, then I can just go to the Vote Here building in downtown Benton, and not have to figure out which polling place to go to. Also, I needed to pay my personal property taxes at the Assessor’s office right next door, so I can kill birds with one recycled stone all day like this. Not that I would. That would be inhumane.
As I hopped in the car with Mom, I remembered about a protest that someone had organized against the millage. They invited me to their event listing on Facebook. It said they were going to “Walk Against the Bryant Millage Tax Election.” It was set as a 4-hour event for that afternoon in front of the Methodist Church across from Bryant High School. I don’t know if they were going to walk the whole time or march or stand or hold signs or what, but I had to-dos to do, so I asked people on Facebook if they would take a picture of what’s going on there. I guess they got rained out because here’s the picture a friend sent me of an empty parking lot. Did you see anyone out there today? I’m not sure if we missed them.
Well, I was still on my way with Chauffeur Mom, to vote and pay taxes like a loyal American. She took Exit 117 and we saw what looks like it could be a Chinese temple with lions guarding the entrance, but no, it’s Waffle House in Benton with dumpsters in the parking lot, and it was getting the funk knocked off of it so they can rebuild and make a sparkly new Waffle House there. We talked about this recently on MySaline, but here’s this pic for you unimaginative types. I just threw that in there for free.
Next, Mom pulled up in front of the “Vote Here” building downtown, but before I got out, she said, “Look, the signs say this parking is just for voters and after you vote and then go to the Assessor’s, you won’t be a voter anymore.”
I’m not even playing – she just dropped me off and dutifully tooled around the block while I did my to-dos, keeping those parking spots open for the droves of voters who would inevitably be needing them. I didn’t get a picture of the sign or my mom driving around and I’m really sorry, but here’s me mugging for the camera, showing off my sticker, which is infallible proof of my patriotism.
I got a surprise when I went to pay my property taxes. You don’t think of good surprises during a tax-paying jaunt, but this was kinda neato at the very least. As I walked into the office, there were these two fellers dressed alike – one in a chair and one laying in the floor. If I wasn’t an educated person, I’d say one feller knocked the other feller down, but it turns out they were in coordination for the effort of installing a shiny new kiosk. What is a kiosk? It’s a machine that lets you look up your tax bill yourself, swipe your bank card yourself, and get yourself out the door. It’s right in time for the period for paying your property tax this year, by the way.
I was served by a live person, since the shiny doodad on the wall wasn’t quite ready for customers yet. Then I found Mom waiting for me in the back parking lot. That makes it sound like she was going to hit me with a pipe, but she wasn’t, because she’s nice like that. She drove me back to her house in Bryant, where Dad was doing the very important work of watching up all the extra stuff on the DVR. We waited about 10 minutes before my phone rang and Ramsey’s said the tire only needed a patch and I could come get the car for the low, low price of $16 and change.
This meant double fun, because Mom and I had decided at some earlier point that we needed to check out the new Italian restaurant in Benton, so now that the car was ready, it meant dinner time was nigh. We picked up my car and followed Mom and Dad to Ed & Kay’s off Exit 116. We went there because the old Ed & Kay’s building is where the new Italian Villa Restaurant is located.
I already showed you pictures of when my friend Toby went with her family on Sunday to eat there. She said the food was great, but am I supposed to take her word for it? Heck no! In the name of Science, I needed to do my own research!
It was rainy as we drove up and still rainy as we drove away, so I didn’t get a picture of the outside, but it’s pretty much the same so far, except on there are balloons on the marquee and it says, “WE’RE OPEN.” The Ed & Kay’s tall post sign is still out front. The new restaurant has signage, it’s just not installed yet, so word of mouth is kind of a big deal right now. As we jumped in out of the rain, we noted that the inside hadn’t changed much either. The tables were covered in white tablecloths and tight bundles of red cloth napkins with silverware punctuated each one. It was still early for dinner and we had a good choice of where to “seat yourself.” Not wanting to take up a big table for just the three of us, we sat close to the kitchen. This also put us close to another threesome that we eventually found out came to eat because they saw here on MySaline that it was open.
There was a friendly young server, who brought us menus immediately and she took our drink order while we pondered. Shortly, a big platter came out and my dad said, “Look at their pizza!” So I turned around and asked those folks at the table behind me, “Do you mind if I look at your food?” And they didn’t mind, so I looked. Some kind of veggie and cheese pizza is what they had and then Bruno, the owner, brought out some spaghetti and meatballs. Then the lady said to me, “Do you want to look at this too?” I giggled and looked and commented to Bruno, “That’s some ‘Lady and the Tramp’ stuff right there!” Because I’m very cultured and know about foods that famous cartoons dogs eat. I asked the folks at the table to pose for a picture while eating the spaghetti before kissing – just like in the movie with the dogs, but that particular pose didn’t present itself for whatever reason. Seriously though. Huge meatballs and lots of sauce and I wanted to eat their food, but again, I’m very, very cultured and I don’t eat off of strangers’ plates in restaurants.
After looking at a ton of choices on the menu – there were appetizers, subs, pasta-only dishes, chicken and seafood choices – we settled on our orders finally and it looked like this:
I got the Chicken Maximo. It was two boneless chicken breasts with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus and mushrooms in a wine sauce on a bed of spaghetti and with parmesan on top. It was tangy and tender, and like the other dishes I saw come out of the kitchen, there’s enough for two. I just might have it for breakfast.
Dad ordered the Philly Cheesesteak Sub, which must have been great, because he ate half of it before I could get my camera out. The original presentation was neater, but you get the idea. He loved it.
Dad also got an appetizer of fried calamari. That’s squid, which is not my favorite of all seafood, but I tried some and it was good. That’s an endorsement.
Mom got the Chicken Parmigiana, which is two chicken breasts, same as mine except breaded, on a bed of marinara pasta and covered in mozzarella. I didn’t get a taste of this and Mom didn’t offer to share, so I’m going to assume she liked it. She had some left over like I did though, because these folks apparently don’t want you to leave hungry.
I didn’t not get a picture of the bread that came out while we waited for our entrees. It was a sourdough I think – dense and firm but fresh. I wonder if they baked it there in the kitchen. We were hungry and the bread went quickly, so therefore it was not photogenic. Maybe next time.
Now about the service. The menu plainly says they are not open on Mondays, but I guess they are for now, because they certainly were on this day. There was one server working the dining room, but she had help from folks in the kitchen with bringing food out and other things. She was friendly and courteous and laughed at my dad’s jokes. That’s how you get a tip, am I right?
Like I said, we got there early and there were lots of places to sit, but by the time we got our food – like 20 minutes later – nearly every table was taken. And the cool thing is, three of the tables had people that told me they came because they saw it on MySaline.com. I’m so happy to have such great people reading here. But back to the Italian place… I really think you’ll enjoy it and the staff seems to have things working well, considering they just opened a few days ago. If you go, tell them you read about them on MySaline.com, okay? Also, think about asking me to go too. There are lots more things on the menu I want to try and you can pay for them this time.
Comment by Shelli Poole on March 10, 2015 at 7:11pm
We had fun sitting next to y’all. In the big cities, you’re not supposed to talk to your neighbor in restaurants!
Comment by Cindy Crabb on March 10, 2015 at 4:38pm
I was one of the 3 that was beside shelli and she ask about our food..i had the pizza she mentioned and my mom and husband had the meatball with spaghetti..they were all delicious!!! it was a brick oven pizza and yummm…we didn’t hear her ask for them to pose like lady and the tramp with the spaghetti..sorry shelli we weren’t being rude 🙂 we can say we recommend this place 🙂