Warm Mashed Potatoes

Linda Burton posting from Carson City, Nevada – I don’t usually recommend restaurants. But everybody I’ve met so far in Carson City has told me Red’s was their favorite place to eat. I had to go see for myself. It’s not really a restaurant anyhow, it’s a museum that just happens to serve really, really, really good barbecue. And a lot of other good stuff.

The windmill signaled me in; what lay ahead under the patch-worked tin-sheeted roof? I walked past stone walls, carved wooden bears, an enclosed patio with a giant barbecue grill and a blazing fireplace. Laney welcomed me at the door; handed me a leaflet describing the fabulous Red “collection.”

Directly ahead was the biggest blackest hunk of steel I’ve ever seen at the front door of a restaurant. Or a museum. “This steamroller was used to pave Wall Street,” Laney said matter of factly. “And that cart hanging above our heads was used in the movie Planet of the Apes that Charlton Heston was in.” Wall Street? Hollywood? “How did all this stuff get here” I asked, “what’s the story?”

“The owner is a collector,” she answered, leading me into the next room so I could see the giant fire steam water pumper perched above the bar. It was built in 1907 and sold to the city of Waco, Texas. And yet it wound up here. Every inch of wall, every inch of air space overhead, has something with a story behind it. Even the rock used along the outside wall was gathered from the debris of the former state “Assembly room” and the Nevada State Prison. An all-knowing Eve-in-a-portrait gave me a Mona Lisa smile when I sat down.

Nick, who stepped in next as my server, said immediately upon hearing my southern accent “You’re going to order pulled pork, I can tell.” He headed off to get samples for me, a taste of the pulled pork he predicted I would want, and some beef brisket too. Both were delicious but he was right, I HAD to have that pulled pork; it came with slaw and baked beans, each presented in a colorful shell; the baked beans a combo of limas and pintos and black-eyed peas, very interesting.

I had a good time at Red’s, in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Imagine the place on a Saturday night! “There’s a five-course Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner coming up soon and we’re serving a different beer with each course,” Nick told me. “Would you like a ticket?” ”If I ate that much food and drank that much beer I’d need Charlton Heston to drive me home in that famous cart,” I declined, with my regrets.

The host stand at Red’s was salvaged out of the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco following the great quakes. As I departed, I noticed this statement printed underneath – Life is a bowl of warm mashed potatoes.

And Red’s is the gravy. Eat at Red’s. Do it today.

Red’s Old 395 Grill, 1055 S Carson Street http://www.reds395.com/html/index.php