As I pulled into a parking space in front of Kay and Traci's 127 Club, Ma and I leaned forward and surveyed the scene through the windshield.
"Looks like a real bar, bar," I winced. Ma doesn't really drink and she definitely doesn't smoke. Nor does she much care to eat in the presence of smoke.
"Here's the plan," I said. "Let's walk in and check it out. I can always come back for a solo lunch later this week."
In we went. A quick count had the smokers outnumbering the eaters by everyone to none, and I offered to take Ma down the street for pizza instead. She declined, and we made our way up to the bar, where Ma was promptly carded. She was officially won over. We ordered a beer and an iced tea and stood at the bar counter with little laminated menus in hand. After laboring over the right combination, we ordered a feast.
By the time I'd wandered the dance floor, peeked in on the back gaming area with a handful of pool tables and pulled up a table in the main seating area, the food began to arrive. First was a side salad of rust-free iceberg, grated carrots and cheddar, and large chunks of fresh tomato. Big enough to eat as a meal and made with fresh specimens of garden variety garden salad, it was a sign. Sure, we weren't going to have a gourmet meal, but that didn't mean Kay and Traci were going to ignore quality control.
Food paraded out of the kitchen quickly, carried by either the bartender or the cook, who'd informed us there was no cocktail waitress but still took great care of us tableside. At first, we moved along at a pretty good clip, putting down six butterflied finger-length fried shrimp ($7) and a $2 beef taco so loaded with lettuce and tomato we had to knife and fork it. As we were staring down a cheeseburger with fries ($6) and a basket of fingersteaks with tots ($7.25), our eyes started to catch up to the size of our stomachs. For the record, when Kay and Traci say cheeseburger, they mean the cheese part. Pepperless pepperjack cheese oozed out from between every bit of soft cornmeal dusted bun. Like the salad, burger vegetables were crisp and good looking (extra points for a nice fat slice of tom). Ma, who has lived in Idaho more than a decade, tried her first fingersteak--one of the pre-made variety, which are pretty inconsistent in meat-to-gristle ratio from piece to piece. She'd gnaw on all gristle in one before discarding it in search of a meaty piece.
We lingered, stuffed, over half-empty plates for a long time in that smoky bar, picking at Tater Tots and fries.
Eventually we boxed up the leftovers, but we did so reluctantly and only after a pod of smokers camped out too close for comfort. While the 127 isn't exactly destination dinner for a homemade meal, we had a great time hanging out. And my guess is that hanging out a little longer than expected is exactly how most people find their way to food at Kay and Traci's.
--Rachael Daigle's mom gets carded buying lottery tickets.