Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pleasant Cafe: This is your grandfather's bar

As soon as we got to the sidewalk in front of Pleasant Café, it was clear that the stories about it were true. It’s brightly painted side wall baring its name greeted us as we walked toward it from the north, and as we approached the front door, the façade almost totally windowless and with dirty neon signage reminiscent of movie diners and old stories, a couple of townies burst through the door and out into the unseasonably warm winter evening.

“We should be wearing bikinis!” the drunk-at-6PM-on-a-weekday tavern-goer exclaimed to my amused wife. She and her consort stumbled past us, pushing the door a little extra open as they left for us to make our way in.

Read more after the jump

Upon entering, we were greeted by our waitress, Kim. Kim was a sweet lady with a thick Boston accent, but she was very flustered that evening. She was mixing a lot of things up, she explained, and apologized without actually having anything to apologize for. Amused that it was my party’s first time at the establishment, Kim sat us in the front room, across from the bar and directly under a large board featuring specials for the next week. “Lots of fish right now,” she said, “on account of Lent.”

My wife, friend, and I were not observing Lent on account of our not being practicing Christians. Kim didn’t seem to mind, and took our bar food orders of burgers, club sandwiches, and buffalo chicken fingers. “Next time you come in, you should try the pizza,” she suggested. “Great, great pizza here.”

The night was slow, but steady at the Pleasant, and most people seemed to be regulars. When Kim came back with our drinks, I asked her if it was usually busy. “Oh, yeah!” She responded as if it was the center of the world. “This place is packed on weekends. Hard to get a table.” She placed my glass of jack in front of me. Small glass, but full to the brim and with little ice. They pour heavy.

As my friends and I drank and talked, I decided I needed a bathroom break, and it was in there that I feel like I captured some of the joint’s real character. Standing over a urinal to do my business, I noticed globs of bloody phlegm in the basin. I moved to the next one.

Back at the table, Kim was making small talk with my friends, talking baseball and hockey like a lady who’d been watching since before all of us were born. She was excited about the Bruins, though they’d been going through a rough patch lately (I imagine she was angry but unsurprised in their eventual collapse in the first round of the playoffs.) She had high hopes but not much faith in Bobby V’s Red Sox. In this she proved prophetic.

Our food came out shortly. It was good and cheap, similar to Doyle’s in JP in a lot of ways. The buffalo tenders were fried with the buffalo sauce already on them.

As we finished up, Kim wished us well, took the tab, and encouraged us to come back again in the future. It’s been a few months since then, and we haven’t been back, but certainly not for lack of wanting – it just hasn’t come up. Kim was aces, the place, overlit, gritty but not dirty, was full of a grimy charm that might make someone unfamiliar with Bostonia culture a bit uncomfortable, but made us feel right at home.

Experience Rating: 1-5

New Experience: 3.5 – Much like my previous entry at Kelleher’s, Pleasant Café is incredibly familiar to the bar-going public. Unlike Kelleher’s, it was a familiar experience that I actually kind of liked.

Others Can Do It: 5 – Unless it’s a holiday, or Kim is right and it’s sometimes impossible to get a table, but on weekdays, you should be fine.

Enjoyable: 4 – Pleasant Café is classic Boston Americana. While a little gruff, it lives up to its name. The food’s cheap, the staff is nice, and the folks are either affable or keep to themselves.

Pleasant Café is located at 4515 Washington St., Roslindale, MA. Open daily 11:30AM-11:30PM. 

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