Let's be clear; I know next to nothing about NASCAR and care even less.
But when I walk into Lamplighter and see that one of the specials is 3 Kale Earnhardt (pork barbecue with kale slaw), I am smart enough to order it without hesitation. And like every time I go there, I am rewarded with a ridiculously good meal at an absurdly low price ($6).
And don't even get me started on the other reasons I love the place. Where else can I find out about the latest anarchist book reading? Or which juried shows are putting out a call for artists? Or even what the Bookworms of VCU are reading (fyi: Roberto Bolano's "Distant Star")?
Where else does the dirty dish tray have a message scrawled on the side ("Skidz, you are awesome. Don't you go changing.")? And where does a random server walk by and give you the thumbs up, saying, "The Kale Earnhardt, alright!"?
While waiting for my sandwich to arrive, I went to the neon-painted space scene bathroom, emerging to find a server holding my sandwich and waiting patiently for me. "You were Karen by default," she said smiling and gesturing at the room then handing it to me.
Inside a big, beautiful kaiser knot roll (from Lucille's Bakery just down Cary Street a few blocks) was a sweet barbecue deliciously complemented by a tangy chopped kale slaw; on the side was their distinctive mixed fruit. With the first bite the slaw juice and barbecue sauce were running down my hand. Oh, yes.
As I was leaving, I told the counter guys how much I'd enjoyed the sandwich, despite my lack of NASCAR know-how. I mean, I was guessing that the number 3 in front of the sandwich name was his car number, but I didn't really know.
"But you know enough that barbecue and NASCAR go together," one said, trying to make me sound more informed than I am.
Nope. I knew I couldn't pass up something called the Kale Earnhardt that involved slow-cooked pig. That's about all the credit I can take.