We woke up in Memphis and started looking for a diner.
The GPS yielded no results and we were reminded that the term “diner” is more of a northeastern one.
Just a short drive from our hotel, however, was the Blue Plate Café
They have the distinction of serving free biscuits before the meal — with sausage gravy: a small meal to eat while waiting for your selected meal. Three cheers for this. Sarah and I ordered Mexi [Breakfast] Burritos, while Tom selected the chicken fried steak — named as such because it is seasoned and deep fried just like fried chicken — and scrambled eggs.
With enough leftovers for another meal, we hit the road confident that we would not have to stop for anything but gas, and certainly not food.
This was until Sarah saw Lambert’s Café
This was the second time we spotted one of the three locations and the second time we were full upon arrival—it was only two and a half hours after our morning feast.
We were faced with a harsh reality: this was the original (and thus for our purposes most iconic) Lambert’s, and if we skipped this one, we weren’t going to see another.
We decided to go in and have a little something.
In reality, there is no having “a little something” here. The menu is set up so that the cheapest items are still big and filling, and plates cannot be shared between two. This is to prevent someone coming in and taking advantage of the free side dishes, or “pass arounds,” delivered by a constant flow of wait staff in funny uniforms (costumes?) offering, among other things, fried potatoes, black eyed peas, and the most notable: “throwed rolls.” This is a side that you don’t want to ask for when the cart it right next to you. It is much more satisfying to wait for the server to be across the room, so he has to fling the roll in your direction.
Soon after we caught our rolls, one of the servers came by with apple butter and sorghum, which begged the question “What is sorghum?”
“Why, it’s sorghum,” came the reply. She clarified: “Sorghum molasses” in a you-must-know-what sorghum-is tone of voice of disbelief. I know now; it is a topping for your bread that has a taste and consistency somewhat similar to honey. I ripped my roll in half and allowed her to cover half in a thick spoonful of sorghum and half in a dollop of the more familiar apple butter, I immediately wished the amounts were reversed: the apple butter was tasty but the sorghum was too much to eat. Had one bite and set it too the side.
Sarah ordered four sides as her plate, I ordered fried chicken and tom got kielbasa and sauerkraut. After adding to our “Styrofoam container full of leftovers collection,” we got back on the road and drove rest of the way to our campground in St. Louis.
We had selected a campground on the water, but the water turned out to be a small lake instead of a river. The campground was little more than some grass and very small plots. With a couple who were fighting camping next to us and several old campers that looked that they had not been moved in a very long time – possibly permanent residents. This was not the beautiful nature-oriented camping experience we were looking for.
We set up our camping gear and headed for the St. Louis Arch. The sun was setting. I was extremely excited to get to the arch during the end of the sunset. Tom and Sarah said that there was no way we were going to make it but going up in the arch would be fun anyway. We parked in a cobblestone lot that was tilted at about a thirty degree angle, causing the car to tilt toward the left (and towards the Mississippi river).
We got our Arch tickets and were lifted in egg shaped “elevators” that you sit down in. These were built to sit five but it was still pretty cramped for the three of us. Upon getting to the top, we were amazed. The sun was still setting (making me right and all of us excited) and the windows provided a great view.
The shape reminded me of the crown of the Statue of Liberty, but instead of just walking by, we were able to stand as long as we desired in front of any of the windows. We were all taken by the view and spent a good half hour in the large carpeted room at the top of the Arch snapping photos and watching the crowd assembled for the home run derby taking place at nearby, well-lit Busch Stadium. Here are a few photos, inside and out.
Afterward we went back to the campground and ate leftovers for dinner. And breakfast the next morning. And still had a little left over which we ended up throwing out. We had a lot of leftovers.