Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday Night

I planned to take Main Lady to hear John Primer, a blues musician out of Chicago whom I've never heard play, and Big Blues Bob and the Thin Ice Band who I have heard before and who are excellent.  The two acts played Griffin's Hines Farm Blues Club (3750 S Berkey Southern Rd; Swanton, OH 43558-8973), which is a club I've patronized before and always enjoyed.  For those of you who haven't been to the Hines Farm, it's blues club that was part of the Chitlin' Circuit - when there was a chitlin' circuit.  Admission is $12 a head, the indoor venue is cash bar, barbecue ribs and chicken, a dance floor and limited seating.  The outdoor venue corrects the limited seating problems. With the weather being as nice as it was, I was sure the event would be held outside.  It wasn't.

If you decide to go to Hines Farm, and having been there before I know all these things, come early and stake out your seats.  Real estate inside is measured by the square inch and it's all valuable.  Do not go alone, because if you get up to take a whiz your seat will be gone when you get back.  Believe it.  The barbecue ribs are a crap shoot.  Usually the ribs come up seven each time, but you never know.  Order half a rack, and if you like them you can get another half rack.  I've always like the ribs; they are some of the best in the city.  The place smells like kerosene, which is what they use to clean the floors with.  Hines Farm will be clean when you get there, not when you leave.  The Hines Farm venue is limited by seating and by the sewage system, which is a septic tank.  Later in the evening the lady's room will back up and start overflowing, and the women will start using the men's room.  When that goes South, the show's over; but that's around 1:00 AM anyway.

Now then.  Since I thought the venue would be outside (stupid me, right?) I didn't come early, and I only brought Main Lady with me.  I paid my $24 at the gate, walked in and discovered that the venue was being held inside and that it's shoulder to shoulder standing room only.  Main Lady goes off to powder her nose, so I go to the bar to get a couple drinks.  I can't get a drink at the bar.  I've never been ignored at the Hines Farm before, but there's a first time for everything.  Main Lady comes out after an extended stay - evidently there's a line - and I tell her that this is a bust.  She agrees.  On our way out the lady at the door stops us, concerned that we didn't get good hospitality.  When I explain my problem ($25, no seating and I can't get a drink) she is apologetic.  The man out front was supposed to explain that it was standing room only before we came in, and he didn't.  She hustles off and procures two folding chairs and two beers, gratis.  My faith in Hines Farm is restored.

We finish our beer, but as good as the music is this venue is a bust for us.  We can't see the band and both of us are hungry.  Main Lady mentions that there's a Mexican restaurant down the road, and that maybe we should try it.  I agree, so we get the show on the road and head for Swanton.  We ended up at Barron's Cafe.

Barron's Cafe
13625 Airport Highway
Swanton, OH 43558-8551
(419) 825-3474

Barron's Cafe used to be called something else - Hilltop, maybe?  The place has two indoor dining areas and a large outdoor patio.  We started with the outdoor patio, but mosquitoes, cigarette smoke and a table of noisy, drunken fat women drove us inside.  Actually, the perfume from the fat women bothered me more than the smoke, and their constant screeching and yammering was driving me to drink.  At some point I'm certain I would have told them to shut the fuck up.  The atmosphere was a whole lot better indoors, and being re-seated was easy.

Both of us opted for Mexican food.  I had a burrito with a side of beans and rice, and Main Lady had something else, the nature of which I cannot recall.  The food and service are excellent, no more nor less.  However, the real highlight of Barron's was Drinky Smokey Happy the Clown.

Happy the Clown
Birthday Parties, Balloons, Face Painting, etc.
(419) 461-1692

Happy sat at the table and made balloon critters for the waitress's children, which I thought was nice of him.  Being intrigued, I took a few photos.

Happy's Balloons - Some Assembly Required

Happy is the sort of lighthearted person whom I'd describe as a natural clown. It's nice to find someone like this when you're on the town. Main Lady remarked on his license plate as we walked in.

Happy's License

I'd give Barron's Cafe an 8 overall.  I'll be back the next time I want Mexican food, and it's worth the trip out to Swanton. 

Griffin's Hines Farm Blues Club gets a 9, which might seem a tad high to some.  I'm rating Hines Farm with the caveat that you know what you're getting into when you go out there.  Call before you go out and see if the venue is inside or outside, and be forewarned that Hines Farm is not a five star restaurant, but then it doesn't pretend to be. I rate Hines Farm a 9 because of the attitude of the staff; they are very clearly concerned that all the customers enjoy themselves at Hines Farm, and that goes a long way with me.

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