Try to imagine the most down-home thing in the world. Think about a park in a small town. Green grass, a pond, ducks, playful dogs, maybe a cat comically stuck in a tree. A wooden gazebo. Old men playing chess. Children play with obsolete toys, like a spinning top, or one of those weird plastic wheels with magnetic axles which slide back and forth on curvy steel rails, or one of those big vertical hoops that you roll around on the ground by hitting it with a stick. There's a marching band passing by on the town's lone road, people rowing on the lake and picnicking on the grass, and prancing dogs. And clowns.
Hoyt Axton sez: "Eat at Geraldine's now, because tomorrow you could be dead like me!" Gee, Hoyt Axton, you sure are a fucking downer.
But that's not quite down- home enough. Imagine this entire scene, PAINTED BY NORMAN ROCKWELL. Sadly, even Norman Rockwell, the most effective down-hominess multiplier in the universe, isn't good enough to make this idyllic scene as down-homey as the menu at Geraldine's Counter.Geraldine's Counter serves breakfast AND lunch all day, which is badass because you can get a hamburger at 9:30 in the goddamned morning. And those hamburgers ($9.50) are so delightful, they could only be tastier if they were grilled by a man drinking a beer and wearing a "World's Best Dad" apron in the park. The patty was sloppy and unevenly shaped, obviously handmade, served still pink inside on a sturdy bun. Caramelized onions are standard equipment, but you can add bacon and cheese for a buck each, and why wouldn't you? If you're on a diet you shouldn't be fucking eating hamburgers anyway.
Burgers come with pretty crispy fries, but you can substitute sweet potato fries for $0.50 more. DO THIS. Those sweet potato fries are the best: uniform, perfectly rectangular orange batons, with a light crunchy coating reminiscent of a thin tempura batter, and which shatters when you bite it as easily as a boyhood dream.
Luckily, my boyhood dream of eating chili- cheese fries for breakfast is still intact. Yes, they even serve chili-cheese fries--aka America's poutine--all day. The fries are the same crispy Russet fries you can get with a burger. Here I'm talking about the plain fries, and NOT the sweet potato fries. If you substituted the sweet potato fries for the regular fries in America's poutine, your head would explode with the sheer awesomeness--just like if you looked inside the Ark of the Covenant.
They were covered in a meaty blanket of chili--mildly spicy, with lots of big chunks of beef and beans. Loopy strings of melted cheddar twined through this mess, and the whole heart-stopping heap was crowned with sour cream and dusted with finely diced chives. This is $7. Think of it as an obscene, high-octane corned beef hash, and you'll have no problems convincing yourself to order it first thing in the morning.
The dinner menu is a little fancier. The vegetable stir fry ($10) was kinda lame: roasted chunks of cauliflower, green beans, squash, and button mushrooms are splashed with a roasted red pepper sauce. The vegetables are roasted well enough, but could've used some salt.
Every weekday night there's a different dinner special. Thursdays it's fried chicken. For $15 we got a drumstick, a thigh, and half a breast, battered in a shaggy, crispy crust. When you bite into it you can see, between the batter and the flesh, a thin orange layer of hot sauce. Inspecting the layers is sort of like geology homework, but more delicious. The chicken was very juicy and just a little spicy. With it came a fluffy, starchy pile of mashed potatoes and the same mixed-vegetable menagerie from the vegetable stir fry. By itself the vegetable stir fry seemed weak, but in this context, as a side to the kind of meal you wish your grandma would've made, it worked. Also, on Thursdays, wine bottles are ½-off, which means you can get a bottle of a drinkable-if-watery pinot noir for the criminally low price of $14. Get two.
Geraldine's Counter is down-home as fuck. Only a guest appearance by Hoyt Axton could give this place more Americana. But he's dead, so they'll just have to settle for their current level of down-hominess, which is still pretty motherfucking homey.
Rating: 7.5 Norman Rockwells out of 10
Geraldine's Counter is located at 4872 Rainier Ave S. For reservations, call 206-723-2080