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Ye Olde Plank Inn: getting dressed up with a “Scotty Too Hotty”

And giving in to an Arrogant Bastard

My loaded nachos, with pulled pork, grilled onions, aioli, and a ton of cheese
My loaded nachos, with pulled pork, grilled onions, aioli, and a ton of cheese

“Arrogant Bastard!” I say.

“Arrogant what?” asks Diane, my newly-minted sweetheart.

I look at the bubbling brown elixir that is my AB, then up at Diane’s sparkling chocolate eyes flecked with green, and sigh. “Most beautiful lamps in the whole wide world,” I say. “And hey.” I pick up the fresh pint. “Most beautiful beer, too. I have been waiting to sip on one of these since I was a single buckeroo.”

Alejandra with Scotty and Plank regular Robert

I haven’t been a single buckeroo since Diane and I got hitched in New Zealand. Now we’re back. And whew: we’ve just made it through the six-month anniversary — a Mesa-Versary? But benefits: In that half-year, I’ve lost 20 pounds. And Diane, who’s had me living on nuts and twigs, has gained a ton of kudos from our friends. So giving in to an Arrogant Bastard here is a big deal. Specially in Stone’s hometown. Problem: it’s late, we’re hungry, and my Arrogant Bastard ain’t going to fill the gastronomically deprived corners of my stomach, or Diane’s.

This is when I remember. “Ye Olde Plank!” I say. “Twenty minutes’ walk, through to the IB beachfront.”

“All the way down, in the dark?” asks Diane. “Is it safe?”

“Hey, this is IB,” I say. “Last and friendliest city in America.”

From a generous tradition of food, Plank became drinks only. But now, they’re back!

Twenty minutes later, Diane says, “This pub looks like it has history. Reminds me of the gold rush pubs we have in New Zealand.”

“History? How about 1886?” says this big cheery chappie in the place’s patio. “That’s when this place opened.” This is Robert. Says he’s been a customer here at Ye Olde Plank almost as long as the pub itself. We’ve come in past a bunch of flags, a big sign with a drunken turtle on top, collections of real old pilings and hawsers, palapa shades over the entrance. Burly bouncer lets us through into a room with hundreds of photos around the walls, including a lot featuring Navy SEALs. Plus pool tables, ships’ wheels, phony dollar bills people have tried to pass off, and a bar festooned with glowing puffer fish.

Place

Ye Olde Plank Inn

24 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach

“Food?” I ask Eric the barman.

“We’re just starting up with food again,” Eric says. “Go out into the patio and turn right. Look for a counter that says, ‘Scotty’s Burgers.’ They should be able to fill you up.” Place is pretty empty this Tuesday night, but it has a well-lived-in feel. Pool tables are clicking away, a clump of gals are chatting over beers, the bouncer seems to know everybody. Out through the doors, you come on this patio with views down to the dark ocean, and hey! Up through a giant hole in the roof to the night sky.

Beyond, in the servery, Alejandra waits. “Still open?” I ask, because it’s past seven already.

“We’re open until midnight every night,” she says.

Wow. That is good.

Sponsored
Sponsored

She hands out a printed menu, eleven items long.

“Scotty Burger,” it starts off, “with cheese, grilled onions, aioli, $10.”

Add bacon, and it’s $12. Add jalapeño and spicy barbecue sauce, and we’re talking $13, and calling it a “Scotty Too Hotty.” They also do dogs like The Glitzy, dressed up a bit like the Scotty bacon burger but with jalapeños, ketchup and mustard ($8), or the Badunk, with pulled pork ($10). Fries on their own go for $5, or “loaded with burger and the other fixin’s” or jalapeño, $10. Or, treats like jalapeño poppers ($8), pepperoni pizza ($8), or pretzel and cheese ($6), or hey: loaded nachos, with pulled pork, cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapeños and aioli, for $10.

For me, no contest. “Nachos is the one,” I say to Ms. D. “What’re you going to have?”

“Wow,” says Diane. “All so super-cholesteroly! You Californians are so back in the Naughties.”

Oh yeah? I can testify that New Zealand also has plenty of the “bad” food we know and love here, stuff like burgers and pizzas. Still, spending these last six months Down Under, I became conscious of the way D’s friends did seem to move with a kind of gastronomic restraint: less of everything, and specially everything you kill, like pork and lamb. The general feeling out there is that, hey, pigs at least are intelligent creatures and deserve more respect. So there’s a growing amount of tofu with everything in Kiwiland, along with sweet potatoes and shellfish and huhu bugs and paua (abalone). There’s movement! Cultural too. They have made Maori the second official language. Overnight, it seems, bilingualism is in. Even the name “New Zealand” now shares space with “Aotearoa,” the “Land of the Long White Cloud.” Amazing how the country’s starting to feel at last like it’s of the Pacific neighborhood it rests in.

Diane’s Scotty Too Hotty burger - bacon in there comes alive with the jalapeño.

We keep mumbling about the food till we realize Alejandra’s still waiting for an order. “Me, the pulled pork-loaded nachos. Uh, sorry about the pork,” I say to Diana. “How about you?”

“Well, I suppose… I’ll try the Scotty Too Hotty,” Diane says. “As my ancestors said before they were shipped out from Wales, ‘May as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.’”

“As in stealing?”

“As in starving.”

Long and short of it is, Robert was right. Diane’s “Hotty” burger is luscious (she gives me a bite). How can you fail with grilled onions, cheese and bacon? Even the jalapeño wasn’t too sharp for Ms. D’s untutored taste buds. And my nachos really were loaded, with the pulled pork, cheese and onions, and two layers of gunk on top. Plus plenty of jalapeño heat. But Cholesterol City? Diane looks at me like some delinquent. “It’ll be salads for a month,” she says to me, “and don’t even think of buying mayo.”

Guess I’ll be settling for Grandma’s good ol’ dictum: “A little of what you fancy does you good.”

The Place: Ye Olde Plank Inn, 24 Palm Avenue, at Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach, 619-423-5976

Hours: 6am-midnight, 7 days

Prices: Scotty Burger (with cheese, grilled onions, aioli), $10; with bacon, $12; “Scotty Too Hotty,” (burger with jalapeño, spicy barbecue sauce), $13; “The Glitzy” hot dog, (with cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, ketchup, mustard), $8; the Badunk, with pulled pork, $10; fries, $5, or fries (“loaded with burger”), $10; jalapeno poppers, $8; pepperoni pizza, $8; pretzel and cheese, $6; loaded nachos (with pulled pork, cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapenos and aioli), $10

Buses: 933, 934

Nearest Bus Stop: Seacoast and Palm

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My loaded nachos, with pulled pork, grilled onions, aioli, and a ton of cheese
My loaded nachos, with pulled pork, grilled onions, aioli, and a ton of cheese

“Arrogant Bastard!” I say.

“Arrogant what?” asks Diane, my newly-minted sweetheart.

I look at the bubbling brown elixir that is my AB, then up at Diane’s sparkling chocolate eyes flecked with green, and sigh. “Most beautiful lamps in the whole wide world,” I say. “And hey.” I pick up the fresh pint. “Most beautiful beer, too. I have been waiting to sip on one of these since I was a single buckeroo.”

Alejandra with Scotty and Plank regular Robert

I haven’t been a single buckeroo since Diane and I got hitched in New Zealand. Now we’re back. And whew: we’ve just made it through the six-month anniversary — a Mesa-Versary? But benefits: In that half-year, I’ve lost 20 pounds. And Diane, who’s had me living on nuts and twigs, has gained a ton of kudos from our friends. So giving in to an Arrogant Bastard here is a big deal. Specially in Stone’s hometown. Problem: it’s late, we’re hungry, and my Arrogant Bastard ain’t going to fill the gastronomically deprived corners of my stomach, or Diane’s.

This is when I remember. “Ye Olde Plank!” I say. “Twenty minutes’ walk, through to the IB beachfront.”

“All the way down, in the dark?” asks Diane. “Is it safe?”

“Hey, this is IB,” I say. “Last and friendliest city in America.”

From a generous tradition of food, Plank became drinks only. But now, they’re back!

Twenty minutes later, Diane says, “This pub looks like it has history. Reminds me of the gold rush pubs we have in New Zealand.”

“History? How about 1886?” says this big cheery chappie in the place’s patio. “That’s when this place opened.” This is Robert. Says he’s been a customer here at Ye Olde Plank almost as long as the pub itself. We’ve come in past a bunch of flags, a big sign with a drunken turtle on top, collections of real old pilings and hawsers, palapa shades over the entrance. Burly bouncer lets us through into a room with hundreds of photos around the walls, including a lot featuring Navy SEALs. Plus pool tables, ships’ wheels, phony dollar bills people have tried to pass off, and a bar festooned with glowing puffer fish.

Place

Ye Olde Plank Inn

24 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach

“Food?” I ask Eric the barman.

“We’re just starting up with food again,” Eric says. “Go out into the patio and turn right. Look for a counter that says, ‘Scotty’s Burgers.’ They should be able to fill you up.” Place is pretty empty this Tuesday night, but it has a well-lived-in feel. Pool tables are clicking away, a clump of gals are chatting over beers, the bouncer seems to know everybody. Out through the doors, you come on this patio with views down to the dark ocean, and hey! Up through a giant hole in the roof to the night sky.

Beyond, in the servery, Alejandra waits. “Still open?” I ask, because it’s past seven already.

“We’re open until midnight every night,” she says.

Wow. That is good.

Sponsored
Sponsored

She hands out a printed menu, eleven items long.

“Scotty Burger,” it starts off, “with cheese, grilled onions, aioli, $10.”

Add bacon, and it’s $12. Add jalapeño and spicy barbecue sauce, and we’re talking $13, and calling it a “Scotty Too Hotty.” They also do dogs like The Glitzy, dressed up a bit like the Scotty bacon burger but with jalapeños, ketchup and mustard ($8), or the Badunk, with pulled pork ($10). Fries on their own go for $5, or “loaded with burger and the other fixin’s” or jalapeño, $10. Or, treats like jalapeño poppers ($8), pepperoni pizza ($8), or pretzel and cheese ($6), or hey: loaded nachos, with pulled pork, cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapeños and aioli, for $10.

For me, no contest. “Nachos is the one,” I say to Ms. D. “What’re you going to have?”

“Wow,” says Diane. “All so super-cholesteroly! You Californians are so back in the Naughties.”

Oh yeah? I can testify that New Zealand also has plenty of the “bad” food we know and love here, stuff like burgers and pizzas. Still, spending these last six months Down Under, I became conscious of the way D’s friends did seem to move with a kind of gastronomic restraint: less of everything, and specially everything you kill, like pork and lamb. The general feeling out there is that, hey, pigs at least are intelligent creatures and deserve more respect. So there’s a growing amount of tofu with everything in Kiwiland, along with sweet potatoes and shellfish and huhu bugs and paua (abalone). There’s movement! Cultural too. They have made Maori the second official language. Overnight, it seems, bilingualism is in. Even the name “New Zealand” now shares space with “Aotearoa,” the “Land of the Long White Cloud.” Amazing how the country’s starting to feel at last like it’s of the Pacific neighborhood it rests in.

Diane’s Scotty Too Hotty burger - bacon in there comes alive with the jalapeño.

We keep mumbling about the food till we realize Alejandra’s still waiting for an order. “Me, the pulled pork-loaded nachos. Uh, sorry about the pork,” I say to Diana. “How about you?”

“Well, I suppose… I’ll try the Scotty Too Hotty,” Diane says. “As my ancestors said before they were shipped out from Wales, ‘May as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.’”

“As in stealing?”

“As in starving.”

Long and short of it is, Robert was right. Diane’s “Hotty” burger is luscious (she gives me a bite). How can you fail with grilled onions, cheese and bacon? Even the jalapeño wasn’t too sharp for Ms. D’s untutored taste buds. And my nachos really were loaded, with the pulled pork, cheese and onions, and two layers of gunk on top. Plus plenty of jalapeño heat. But Cholesterol City? Diane looks at me like some delinquent. “It’ll be salads for a month,” she says to me, “and don’t even think of buying mayo.”

Guess I’ll be settling for Grandma’s good ol’ dictum: “A little of what you fancy does you good.”

The Place: Ye Olde Plank Inn, 24 Palm Avenue, at Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach, 619-423-5976

Hours: 6am-midnight, 7 days

Prices: Scotty Burger (with cheese, grilled onions, aioli), $10; with bacon, $12; “Scotty Too Hotty,” (burger with jalapeño, spicy barbecue sauce), $13; “The Glitzy” hot dog, (with cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, ketchup, mustard), $8; the Badunk, with pulled pork, $10; fries, $5, or fries (“loaded with burger”), $10; jalapeno poppers, $8; pepperoni pizza, $8; pretzel and cheese, $6; loaded nachos (with pulled pork, cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapenos and aioli), $10

Buses: 933, 934

Nearest Bus Stop: Seacoast and Palm

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