Monday, May 7, 2012
Road Trip Part 16: Chick-fil-A
Quite a few times over the years when I have written about a fast food joint's fried chicken sandwich, someone has mentioned that I needed to try Chick-fil-A's. So I wanted to eat at Chick-fil-A on this trip.
We'd thought about spending the night in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I got off the interstate, drove four miles into the town, and immediately spotted a Chick-fil-A. But I did not see a single hotel. We drove around for at least fifteen minutes and did not spot one.
I stopped to get gas and went inside to inquire about lodging. "If you came down this road," the clerk said, gesturing at the highway on which he had just traveled, "you should have passed a whole bunch of places."
"Okay," I told him, "I'll go back and look again."
A man who overheard me approached in the parking lot as I was finishing pumping gas. He was just trying to help so I don't want to make too much fun of him... but he talked slower than anyone I had ever met in my life. Sentences that contained four words were taking him 30 seconds to say. He announced that he had lived in the town for 40 years and knew exactly where we should go.
"You want to go back up this road here to the Home Depot on the corner, son," he said.
We had passed a Lowe's about two hundred yards away. "Do you mean Lowe's," I asked?
"Yes, yes," he replied. "Lowe's. Right there you get on Highway 61."
I'd noticed those signs, too. "Do you mean Highway 64?"
"Yes, yes," he said again. "Highway 64." (He'd been in the town 40 years; I'd been there twenty minutes and I already knew it better.) He was getting excited now and his words increased to a breakneck pace of perhaps twenty per minute. "Once you take the highway a couple of miles you'll find tons of places to stay and lots of great restaurants. There's even a Cracker Barrel!"
He uttered that last phrase with such exuberance you would have thought he was announcing the recent opening of a French Laundry in Rocky Mount. I thanked him and we drove out to that off-ramp expecting little. There was indeed a Cracker Barrel as well as an Outback Steakhouse (not a fan) and a Texas Steakhouse (which appeared from their website to be a clone of Outback but with a Texan theme rather than Australian).
"Let's just get back on the interstate," I suggested to Elizabeth.
We drove another 40 miles, close to the Virginia border, and pulled off the highway to stay in a motel. Just down the road, no more than a quarter-mile, was a Chick-fil-A. We dropped our stuff in the room and went to get dinner.
"This is my first time at Chick-fil-A," I said to the girl when I was ordering, after she had inquired as to what kind of sauce I would like. "What kind of sauce would you recommend?"
"The Chick-fil-A sauce and... well... I like the Polynesian," she replied.
"Sounds good," I said.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought maybe I had gone to Chick-fil-A before. I remember a trip from New Orleans to Knoxville a dozen years ago, and I remember being at a gas station and looking at the Chick-fil-A sign right across the street. I thought I had eaten there. But now I'm pretty sure I did not. Because this meal was really good; I think I would have remembered.
There is no Chick-fil-A in New York City - unless you count a "Chick-fil-A Express" at NYU, which I don't - so I don't know when I will get to have any again, but I would love to give it another try.
Posted by JustinM at 10:00 AM