A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 324

Eat, drink and be merry

FARMINGTON — “Christie’s, the restaurant that tried (and failed) to convert its patrons to tablecloths, is currently attracting a plethora of good old boys in orange hats by serving gargantuan platters of fried grub, seasonally called Hunter’s Specials -- an ideal prelude to a day of gunplay and six-packs. Outside the eatery, on Main Street, a line of pickup trucks wait patiently in the frost...”

That paragraph appeared in Farmington Corner in November of 1985, and we are delighted to report that Mr. Chag’s Den, located on the very same spot, is now carrying on the proud tradition of satisfying hungry diners with hearty breakfasts and substantial lunches, without, we are happy to report, those annoying tablecloths that made their brief appearance just before the 1988 arrival of presidential candidate Dick Gephardt to the eatery in January of 1988.

To give a little more history … after Christie’s, the restaurant became known as Dumontski’s. One of the most memorable incidents during Ronnie Dumont’s era was during an annual Hay Day, when a cowboy on horseback rode into the restaurant, firing blanks from a six gun to rescue a dancing girl — all part of a staged entertainment. It wasn’t planned, though, for a fluorescent tube to be shot out, and for white powder to drizzle down and turn the floor into an ice rink, upon which the horse slipped, fell over, and nearly crashed through to the cellar — catapulting the dancing girl, seated on its back, through the air and onto the lap of a surprised but delighted old geezer. His facial beam abruptly vanished with a sharp elbow in the ribs from his wife. It was all recorded in a column called Horseplay at Dumontski’s.

The restaurant flourished right up until Ronnie Dumont suffered a fatal heart attack. Then it became known as Desperados, and, after a devastating fire leveled the building, Buddy Stiles rebuilt it bigger and better, and called the restaurant Hunters’ Tavern. Then poor Buddy had a fatal heart attack.

In the intervening years, between then and now, Hunters’ Tavern was run by folks “from away”, who, although they were experienced in the business, didn’t meet with the success they’d hoped for. For a while, the facility lay empty, although cared for. Now it has been reopened by Joel Chagnon, who is widely known by teaching in the school system for a score of years plus  countless hours volunteering at the 500 Boys and Girls Club.

Mr. Chag’s Den has named its burgers and sandwiches after local residents, past and present, most of whom have appeared in this column at some time or another. The Rog-B, for example, in honor of the sadly departed garbologist Roger Belanger is a bologna sandwich, while The Betty Mros Burger is described as a genuine crowd pleaser.

Scanning the menu though, I do notice some omissions, the most glaring of which is The Brownie, which should be of unique circular construction to meet the description of the town’s one-of-a-kind police sergeant, as immortalized in that song, The Roundest Brownie in Town, eh.

Then I would like to see The Royce Hodgdon Burger. This, when ordered, would be of solid construction, always arrive late, be worth it when it eventually appeared, and get washed down with a Bud or two.

With twice-crowned Gardener of the Month in mind, I would also like to see The Bubber Haycock Sandwich, which would consist of an exotic green-leaf salad. Over 20 years ago, Bubber came up with the idea of thawing out frozen ground with a flamethrower to get a jump over that horticultural crowd, the Woman’s Club.

Perhaps a future menu can also feature The Clark Hackett, to be billed as “the most filling item in the restaurant”, in honor of the hero who once filled in an enormous crevasse on River Road – a moon crater that has never shown its ugly face again in a couple of decades.

All in all, we thoroughly applaud the idea of naming wholesome fare after worthies and characters…and there is much scope for additions down the line…The Archie Corson, The Porky Hussey, The Stella Michaud, The Ellsworth Hancock, The Biff Silvia and The Wild Bill, not to mention The Jeremiah Jones Colbath. Farmington has just bristled with delightful people worthy of remembrance via sandwich and burger. And it bristles, yet.

In closing, we would like to see incorporated into the décor of Mr. Chag’s Den, a reminder that the Famous Kennedy Painting once graced the walls, back in the Dumontski days, and it is important to record that a specimen of that most threatened of orchids, the Small Whorled Pogonia, was rumored to be growing in a much-maligned flower planter right outside the restaurant.

That locality is just alive with history!


Feb. 23, 2013

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