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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Majestic: Remembering and tasting

Alone at the Majestic
Last week, Wayne and I finally got around to seeing Dangerously Loud and Incredibly Close, the movie about 9/11 that features a good story that turns into suffocatingly sappy-sweet hyperglycemia of the eyeballs. We saw it at the Plaza and decided to walk over to the Majestic Diner for a quick dinner.

That’s the 24-hour place whose big neon sign promises “food that pleases since 1929.” Not. At least not in a long time.

I’ve written before about my frequent visits to the Majestic back in the first cycle of my impoverishment as a writer in the ‘80s. I lived behind the Plaza Drugs in a duplex whose upstairs porch provided a clear view into the windows of a whorehouse favored by Georgia Tech boys. The view of sin was redeemed every Sunday by the pitiless blasting of the Salvation Army Band that played in front of the Plaza Drugs. Sundays always also meant dinner at the Majestic because the Greek owners, believe it or not, prepared the best lamb in town that day.

The Majestic was sold and its overheated, dingy rear room — perfect for hangover eating — was remodeled into its present glass-walled, overlit box. The ultra-cheap food got a bit more expensive over time and the quality dropped dramatically.

Long gone, too, are the city’s wackiest servers — women with Church of God hairdos whose motherly language contrasted with a gaze turned slightly jaded by the hourly-changing view of good Christians, prostitutes, bikers and residents of public housing for the slightly deranged. It was a Southern Gothic dreamscape.

The servers the night of our visit were all pleasant young women — students, I’d guess — and the place was empty when we arrived. Wayne was subjected to my same nostalgic rumination while I marveled at the sight of a laptop.

Here’s my advice: stick to breakfast. I cannot imagine scrambled eggs being anywhere near as dreadful as my “double lamb burger with melted feta and side of tzaziki.” At $10.69, about the usual price around town, it was barely edible. The greasy patties could have been set in a pasture as salt licks for cows. And they were tough enough for cud-chewing. The half-melted feta underscored the saltiness. But the fries were fine and the tzaziki made a decent dip.

Wayne fared barely better. He ordered a blue plate, a grilled chicken breast. Discounting the dryness, it tasted okay, especially if you crave the flavor of rosemary in overwhelming quantity. His sides were nicely-thawed fried orka hunks and some cole slaw.

Next time — and nostalgia will always make me return — I’m having eggs and a baklava sundae. Yeah, a baklava sundae.

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