On Friday morning I had an interview at a business park that looked like a disused moon base. A shipment of white tiles, mirrors and concrete dumped there at some point in the 1980s and then forgotten about. Left to grow and evolve into the bland assortment of office blocks and budget hotels that is now west Bordeaux. A post-industrial form of natural selection that would work well in a JG Ballard novel I suspect.
I got the job anyway and afterwards felt intensely hungry. That, ‘I’ll eat anything!’ hunger that only occurs after stressful situations. The reason fast food restaurants are so popular.
So it was fortunate as I wandered around the ageing chrome towers of the business park that I noticed a Buffalo Grill in the distance next to the ring road.
If you’ve ever driven in France, you might be familiar with them. They look like this.
Inside feels like sitting in a nineteenth century train carriage. Which I guess is the point, and to be honest, it’s very well done. The cramped wooden-panelled booths with no legroom whatsoever perfectly recreate what train travel must have been like in 1870. Or in the UK in 2014 if East Midlands Trains is anything to go by.
The experience was further authenticated when the waitress came up and spoke to me in a language I didn’t understand. It wasn’t English. It certainly wasn’t French. More Montanan. The Buffalo Grill managers obviously training their staff to speak in the lingo of the Mid West to sell more burgers and steaks. Good call.
I ordered a beer and then got down to the really complicated business of deciphering the menu:
Does the burger come with fries?
Can I get macaroni as well for the same price?
Do you serve vegetables?
How many sauces am I allowed?
Is the side salad part of the deal?
Is the toffee cheesecake part of the Buffalo deal, the Sheriff deal, or neither?
Why did the other waitress just bring me a basket of rolls?
Are they free?
…And on and on until finally I understood. I could have anything I wanted with my burger for 9.90. So I did. And rolled home like Humpty-Dumpty.
That night I watched a film called Nebraska about a knackered old alcoholic on his way to pick up his million dollar prize that he won in a competition. It’s a great film but I think I enjoyed it more because of my visit to the Buffalo Grill that lunchtime.
I liked the films Fargo and The Straight Story as well and perhaps if the job doesn’t work out on the moon base, I’ll go and live out my days in the Mid West. Buffalo Grill everyday. Mmm…