The sign gave me the first impression of what kind of place Mason's was going to be: "It takes balls to try our nuts." I've tried balls in the past, purely out of a culinary curiosity, but I'm not fond of them. Never have been. But there must be other things on the menu at Mason's a man like me could sink his teeth into. A neon sign in the window advertised Shiner beer, a favorite of mine from my college days. At least the trip outside of my regular stomping grounds out to Meridian wouldn't be in vain.
"What's that?" the server questioned me when I requested a Shiner.
"You have a neon sign in the window," I replied.
"Oh, people give us signs all the time, and we get different kegs in."
"Hmph, OK, give me a Skinny Dipper," I responded, pointing to the vinyl sign hanging above the door. Luckily they had that and the server turned out to be friendly and very helpful in the end. She offered one of three sizes: regular, bigger than regular and a 25-ounce super gut buster. Of course, after a month of martinis, I had to go for the gut buster, but only one, since it was a long drive back to Boise.
The former home of Bolo's, Mason's is only slightly remodeled into a motorcycle and NASCAR theme joint. Lots of beer, a modest selection of cocktails, pool tables, big screen TVs showing car racing and a few video games could keep a diner/drinker busy in the restaurant. The menu had a motorcycle theme with cleverly named sandwiches and salads. You could "custom build" your own burger, a tempting idea, but instead I started off with a half-order of their famous wings, and then ordered Stacia's Supreme Ride (a turkey sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and onion) and finger steaks.
The loud sound of things frying in the back informed me that this was a serious fry factory. Actually, the menu said all-you-can-eat fries came with every plate, although I didn't test that policy. The wings were not your ordinary wings. They were the whole chicken wing, not just the bicep part, and they were huge. Sitting atop a bed of pretzels and smothered in a spicy sauce, I chose bleu cheese dressing as the dipping compliment to cool our tongues. I have to admit, I'm not much of a wing man, but these were pretty darn good. The finger steaks looked like they were overcooked, but once I started munching on the little bits of meat they were tender and just right. Unfortunately, the Stacia's Supreme Ride wasn't so great, as it arrived sans avocado and onion. And although a slice of cheesecake for dessert was tempting, I was too full. The cheesecake, like the balls, would have to wait for another time.
Bingo Barnes bowls a perfect 300.
>Mason's Pub & Eatery, 601 S.Main St., Meridian, 884-3737. Mon.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-midnight, Sun. hours vary by season.