Now, as much as I fear regret, I fear the acquiescence of my words even more. That’s why when Joey expressed his gut’s feeling for another day in Elmira, I stuffed caution down my stomach. We had gone before- to a place I thought was so bad it was good, no doubt- and I figured I could redeem myself of any kind of assumed acrimony I had last time with a much more patient review from the same town. (I wasn’t angry last time. Just so everyone knows.)
Thus, we went, parked our car on the downtown curb, and cased out all the digestible joints. And when our acquiescence for sitting still became too much, we did what we always do: ask whatever teenager working behind a counter about where they liked to eat. The Dollar Store is our preferred watering hole.
Our clerk suggested Candies Burger Suite, a place we passed entering town. A place Joey couldn’t stop making candy jokes about. A place I couldn’t stop making grammar jokes about. A place which’s fries our clerk couldn’t stop talking about. It was an easy choice. Any spleen from the two of us came from the cold and having to wait a few hours before Candies’ reopened, which we managed to pill with some donuts, too much pie, cookies, and soda. A gluttonous lapse in hindsight, but we never have any real qualms about eating like two fat Italians. Or greedy ones, for that matter.
So when Candies’ reopened, there we were, waiting in front of its screen door, excited about entering the 150 year old Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Italianate- whatever- home, and stuffing our semi stuffed faces. It certainly had the backbone of a diner, and the space of a cozy home, which made us both feeling more than welcomed, even if a little puzzled at how to place the fun décor. I said a manifestation of the B52’s song ‘Love Shack.’ Candie said it was Gothic Moroccan with a kind of hippie theme. Baroque lamps and leopard print booths in one room, colour splattered wooden chairs in another. ‘You can never have enough colour,’ Candie said. It was the kind of place you imagine girls with a lot of New School tattoos going. You know? The ones you dream about. Who love burgers and fries. And poutines. And coleslaw: the ambit of Candies’ menu. Everything’s made fresh. The burgers are only beef, the potatoes are cut and deep-fried to perfection, the slaw stewed in its own delicious juices. Even the stuffing’s are local.
Becoming the suckers for variety we are, Joey and I spoiled ourselves with a slew of options. I got the pulled pork poutine, and the cowboy burger; Joey, the Taco Poutine, and the Candian with back bacon and cheddar. We were musing having two big brewskies on the side. Alas, not yet, but maybe someday.
Swooning over a vestige of Elton John, it wasn’t long before Joey’s stunned face had me laughing and crying. In front of us were two steel bowls: mine, piled high with golden fries, cheese, pulled pork in a crimson sauce, and crystalline onions; joey’s piled with fries, cheese, seasoned ground beef, salsa, sour cream, and a red pepper, shaming all the sundae’s that romanticized our yesteryear . This could have easily been a big boy’s dessert; that is, if all the sweets we ate before hand were considered our dinner. Joey dove in and had no complaints. My fries were perfect. Hands down. I’ve no qualms about saying I’ve spent a good four years in front of a deep fryer, and these were the best chips I ever came across: crisp on the outside, airy, not oily on the inside; when rubbed together, they sounded like hay. Any fry conglomerate would gush. Joey agreed. He spent that work time with me too, after all. My shreds of pork only made the dish better. Tender and moist and slathered in a rich, sweet savoury sauce with a little spicy kick, my pulled pork shared all its reminiscence with baked beans and molasses. Did I mention the cheese melted?
My burger was another oeuvre. A good, soft bun covered a savoury patty which’s flavor was elevated by the smokey local ham that sweated over it. I can still remember the smell. But as far as I was concerned, Candie’s coleslaw was the magnum opus. Sharply brined and seasoned, of all things, with pickle juice, and dill, there was no boring balminess, no overpowering puckering. It was the most balanced and gracefully flavoured slaw I’ve ever had, and she made it all by her lonesome. I loved it so much, I took more home and wondered when I’d get another chance to trust Joey’s gut.
CANDIES BURGER SUITE
75 Arthur St S
CASH, DEBIT. NO CREDIT.