So I’ve been kidding Eric over at The Way Station for about 400 years now about the suspicious absence of Beef Stew, Biscuits & Gravy from his otherwise perfect menu. Eric & his fetching temptress, The Hubba-Hubba Melissa, were kind enough to surprise me for my birthday by creating a special home-cooked batch of the ancient delight and oh cripes amen boy howdy was it delicious.
Like most eateries, The Way Station buys in bulk and the only economically feasible means to sell Beef Stew was to buy it from Costco in the 1,420-gallon can. Which comes with wheels and is motorized. Being loosely associated with The Life Agrarian, I can assure you, 1,420 gallons is a lot of Beef Stew in the same room. It’s so much Beef Stew that they don’t bother to dissect the 42 steers that go into every can, nor shake the dirt and DDT off the millions of whole potatoes, onions, carrots and tomatoes.
Mind you. Unless you bite into horn or hoof, this is a great bargain, and, bonus, it works out to about 0.000000003 cents per serving. But you better make sure you’re selling a lot of Beef Stew because if you’re not, you’re going to have to pump the leftovers into an Andy Gump cesspool truck, dump it illegally into Castaic Lake and hope the park rangers on the midnight-to-dawn shift are deeply in love and somewhat iffy about making late-night patrols.
I’m good for maybe a gallon or two of Beef Stew at one meal. I’ve seen my pal Randy Wrage eat 6 gallons at one nine-hour sitting and our congressman Mike Garcia can eat 9 gallons, which doesn’t count because Mike’s vegan and he just spits out the beef, which creates a big headache for Eric in that The Way Station floor gets all lawsuit dangerous-slippery if you have too many vegetarians hock-ptooeying large dollops of Stew Grade Meat.
Stew Grade Meat.
Good bluegrass band name, don’t you think?
Fourteen banjos, a bass, three fiddles, a mandolin, six liberal Signal letters to the editor writers to share how they’re playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” too fast and sniffing that they could play it better, 42 IQ points and a tooth.
I love those times when I bump into a SClarita newcomer. The topic always comes up.
“So where’s a good place for a young family of health-conscious yuppies like ourselves to enjoy a hearty breakfast around here besides Jack in the Box?”
I tell them about our famous little old-fashioned cowboy coffee shop at the corner of 9th and Main Street in Downtown Newhall.
“You gotta try the Unlimited International Olive Bar,” I suggest. “All You Can Eat Salad with 42 kinds of beets. Fresh organic raspberries.” I’m tempted to make an unflattering stomach cramp noise by sticking out my tongue and blowing. I don’t. “Homemade soup from every land. Sunday’s All-You-Can-Eat Sushi & Eggs, and they don’t check if you eat the eggs. Moonshine.” I not only tell newbies about weekend late-night dancing to live bands but that on the first Sunday of every month, they have live nude go-go dancers in cages.
“Same time as church,” I point out.
Luring gullible neophytes. If they’re Democrat, I share how famous movie stars show up to press the flesh with locals.
Like Snoop Dogg.
“That’s actually his real name,” I tell the wide-eyes rookie. “Snoop Dogg. He’s Dutch. Owns a cattle ranch up Bouquet Canyon. Heavily into rodeo. Earned a solid gold buckle at the last Stevenson Ranch National Finals for bull-punching Holsteins.”
The Way Station actually doesn’t open until 6 a.m. I share a secret I’m not supposed to. Harrison Ford and some famous friends (Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Bobby Downey Jr., Carrot Top, Al & Larry Pacino) fly in early Wednesdays to power walk up and down Main Street at around 4:30. They LOVE company. Harrison? He craves the crepes. Harrison Ford attended Hart High, I confide. So did Sting (as our foreign exchange student, dated two of my sisters, Lisa and Tweedie; Tweedie’d win because she’s mean).
Madonna frequents the place. Gets to The Way Station right when it opens and likes the Ahi on Gourmet Soberdough Toast & The Chili Fries. They bake the bread right there, with Norwegian beer.
I should hate myself. I don’t. You gain the newcomers’ trust, weasel out some personal history and then create a hand-sewn fable.
“Gosh! I’m a tea guy, too!” I boast of the 148 different organic blends The Way Station offers. “AND, they have six kinds of goat milk!” Victor? Head chef? Studied at the Sorbonne.
“In France,” I add.
Breaking tradition from most breakfast & lunch diners, I note, The Way Station is a trend setter, mixing great food with modern technology. Eric recently installed a large and illegal cable that connects to the Laemmle projection room a block away. The little cowboy eatery now offers “Breakfast & An Insufferable Foreign Film.” This weekend’s special is Eggs, Seared Sea Bass, Eggs, Glazed Nutria, Eggs, Diced Salt Peter and More Eggs.
It’s the touching Saudi family film, “I Killed My Whore of a Wife Because SCV Human Relations Intern Paul De La Cerda Saw Her Feet.”
Subtitles, of course, are extra.
As I always like to tell SCV newcomers, The Way Station owns their own ranch and packing plant (over at The Mall where Sears used to be) so their overhead’s lower than most restaurants.
Fridays? Yikes, holy cow and oh my goodness gracious!
That’s like — today! If you hurry and get over to The Way Station, Friday is Baby Back Ribs & Egg. And, a small Sprite. They only have the one cup since the COVID Embargo, but that comes with free refills.
Did I mention? It’s All-You-Can-Eat, too…
John Boston is a local writer, evil and lover of beef stew. You can see him, possibly, Mondays, pre-dawn, with Denzel Washington, at The Way Station. Mondays are Lobster Frittata. With eggs…