“I have never been to Plymouth but I hear it’s nice this time of year.”
In Plymouth there is a restaurant called “Bode’s Corned Beef House.” Inside this restaurant there are a small number of tables and a bar with an equally small number of seats. Beyond the bar is an open view of the kitchen. It’s at the bar that one can view the hustle and activity of a culinary chain gang doing what they have no doubt been doing for years. One man is slicing meat to order. Another two cooks work the large griddle with aplomb. One waitress calls out…
“I need that sandwich on wheat toast and I’m gonna need some bacon with the chocolate chip pancakes!”
“Got it” the man says with a tone of a husband of 25 years. “I’ve got it. I’ve got it. But do you have to shout so loud?!”
I sit at the end of the bar closest to the kitchen so I can watch how the cooks carry themselves. It’s sort of like scouting. After years in an industry you begin to develop a mindset that allows you to focus on little things others would miss. In my case, I’ve had experience on a line and there is definitely something called “The Dance.”
What is The Dance? Lemme esplain. Imagine for a second that you and three other cooks (male or female) are crammed in a 4’x10’ space with open flames, sharp utensils, screaming hot surfaces, molten fryer oil, greasy/slippery/wet floors, and a gauntlet of other obstacles, snares, and hidden dangers just waiting to snatch you up. The Dance is an acquired skill that allows a group of culinarians to act as a single organism and behave in a singular movement towards a similar goal in a multitude of environments whether they be safe or unsafe. Any well run kitchen has a dance that is choreographed and practiced day in and day out. In Seinfeld terms, it looks like this:
Poorly run kitchens also have a dance. Again, in Seinfeld terms it looks like this:
All joking aside, you may find my descriptions a tad on the side of hyperbole but once you strap on a chef coat and experience it for yourself you will never see food the same. You either learn “The Dance” or you get hurt or worse, you mess with somebody else’s mise en place or rhythm. I’ve been there. It’s not fun. It’s damn scary. You learn quickly or you get yourself out of there and into sales or something along those lines.
So, as I said, I’m sitting at my bar stool and I’m getting the front row experience for all of this controlled chaos. A man with a mullet steps out from behind the line. I think he works here. Odd.
So what about the food?
I love Corned Beef. I’m Irish so it’s almost mandatory that I like it. My favorite meal growing up was my mother’s corned beef and cabbage. It’s definitely in my list of “Death Row Meals.” If you love corned beef like I do, Bode’s is just for you. Because Bode’s cures, cooks, and slices all of its corned beef in house and has been doing so for over fifty years. I’ve been told it’s a Plymouth institution. It didn’t dissapoint. I ordered the Express Sandwich at the suggestion of one of the waitresses. The corned beef was favorable but not salty, hot but not greasy. The lettuce and tomato capped it off perfectly. If there were ever a time for a moan of pleasure this would be it. It’s ok. Let it out. Meg Ryan did.
May I make a few suggestions? First, have your sandwich toasted. That’s a given. Second, ask for a side of horseradish and apply it liberally. It will clear your sinuses and will add that extra dimension of flavor your mouth is craving. You’re Welcome.
So what if I get worked up about a sandwich? For this place, who wouldn’t? It’s the sort of place I wish I had around for a quick lunch on a Saturday. Sure, there are other items on the menu but with corned beef like that why even bother?
280 N Main St, Plymouth, MI