11 a.m., Oct. 17
IB's Plank: Drinking in history
It's not on the pier, but IB's oldest pub delivers its own atmosphere
Oh man: Eat on the pier, or eat here, at Ye Olde Plank?
I’m leaning on IB’s sea wall, looking out at the ocean. And from the far end of that lo-ong pier, lights glow across the angry waters. The fish place, the Tin Fish.
Can’t resist the idea of fish and chips out there in the fading light, surrounded by ocean. So, like half a mile’s slogging later I’m getting to the end of this long, knobbly-planked pier – only to find the place is closed for the day. Big gnarly fence gate slammed right across.
Sigh. Another half-mile back, and thank goodness, Ye Olde Plank’s still open. I’ve always liked it. Heck it’s been here since 1886. That's when it opened as a liquor store.
Looks kinda cozy, with the palm trees and the planks climbing its walls, and the city’s big statue of a surfer silhouetted against the night sky, and through the door you can see the palapa bar with its luminous puffer fish and diver helmets and dollar bills laced in the thatch.
And a beautiful ship's bell.
“You doing food?” I ask the guy at the door.
“Sort of. You need to talk to the barman,” he says.
I go in and hoist up onto a stool at the island bar.
Oh yeah. Now I remember. This is where they had a totally fabulous Sunday Brunch. Like a 6 or 8-ounce steak, (your choice) or say half a dozen sausages, or a ham, plus one to TEN egg omelets (your choice, but you had to eat them), home fries, AND a drink, like for $5.95. Six bucks! It was incredible.
“We don’t really do food anymore,” says the barman. “But I can do you some chicken wings.”
Well it is around nine at night. He goes into the cooler-room and comes out with BBQ wings. Sounds good to me.
So for $4, I get me half a dozen pretty delicious BBQ wings, and with an extra $3.25, a pint of Bud. Other nights they have different, but still simple dishes.
So I’m not pigging out on fish with a view to Hawaii from the end of the pier, but I could easily settle in here. Because the music’s starting, conversation’s pretty good around the bar, and oh Lord. Discover they have Arrogant Bastard on tap.
’Course if I stay, Carla’s gonna kill me. But you don’t get real pubs like this every day…
And you’ve got the ghosts of all the other guys who’ve been coming in here and getting into trouble with their wives for staying out too long for, like, 117 years.