Henri and Colette pay a small visit to Biggs
“What’s not to like about this place?” Colette said, sliding back into the booth. “Redneck wine glasses, camo aprons on the waitresses, a hunters’ wall of fame.”
Once again my dear sister had disengaged me from my comfort zone, and though I was attempting to go with the flow, as she likes to say, I was feeling a bit discombobulated.
“And it’s so cute! The sign on the ladies’ room says ‘Does.'”
Earlier, she had suggested we take a drive out into the country. “There should be lots of waterfowl,” she said, “and they’re beautiful at sundown.”
I was quite comfortable on the couch in my Snuggie blanket. The “country” did not sound even remotely attractive. I imagined the worst: goose poop on my new loafers.
“I’ll buy you dinner,” she said.
I pulled on my rubbers, grabbed a coat and followed Colette out to Pierre. Before I knew it, we were in the middle of nowhere—heading, I was pretty sure, in the general direction of San Francisco. I wondered if my friends Stevan and Stefan still lived there.
“Isn’t this gorgeous?” Colette asked.
She had me there. More than gorgeous. Glorious. The sun was dropping between the mountains and low clouds, the sky ablaze in oranges and pinks, reflecting off the water on both sides of the road. “Rice fields,” she said. “The ducks and geese love it.” A huge flock of geese, brilliant white in the fading sunlight, rose into the dusk.
“You mentioned dinner?” I said. “I don’t think we’re going to find much out here.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan. Dinner in Biggs.”
“Biggs?” I said. “What’s a Biggs?”
“A little town down the road.”
“You’re kidding me,” I said. “There’s a little town called ‘Biggs'?”
She smiled. “And I hear there’s a really good restaurant there.”
Ten minutes later we were pulling into the misnamed town. One main street, about three blocks of shops, a post office and an old abandoned hotel. “There it is,” she said. “The Buckshot Grill.”
“And look,” she said, parking across the street. “The Pheasant Club. Aperitif?”
“Like they’ll know that means,” I said.
“Oh, come on.”
We stepped inside The Pheasant (493 B St.), and the six heads at the bar turned in unison to look at us, then turned quickly back to their drinks. The dozen or so other heads in the room didn’t budge. They were dead. Mounted on the walls. Elk, bison, deer, wild boar. Stuffed ducks and geese in flight hung from the ceiling over the pool tables.
“I just love these kinds of places,” Colette said. “They’re real.”
We each had a vodka tonic, then headed across the street to the Buckshot Grill.
A dozen or so Formica-top tables are scattered about the well-lit dining room, the d"cor—surprise!—hunting themed, with more mounted heads and old ads for gear.
Colette ordered the pork ribs, and I had the tri-tip ($10.95 each), which came with cole slaw and chili. Colette said it was the best cole slaw she’d ever had, the dressing with “just the right blend of mayonnaise and bite from the vinegar.” The chili was very good, too, but the entrees, which we divided up, were outstanding, smoked on site and served with delicious homemade barbecue sauce on the side—we agreed that the ribs were just slightly better than the tri-tip. Our wine was served in Mason jars glued to candlestick bases. I had to admit, I was glad she dragged me out of the house.
The Buckshot Grill is run by Biggs cattle ranchers Doug and Kari Wheeler, who use local products whenever possible, including produce and Sierra Nevada beers and Bertagna wines. Specializing in barbecue (beef ribs and chicken in addition to the pork ribs and tri-tip), the restaurant also serves burgers ($4.95-$6.95), sandwiches ($3.95-$6.95), salads ($5.95), and soups and chili ($1.75-$4.50). The breakfast menu includes egg dishes, biscuits and gravy and pancakes.
Before we left, we wandered to the back, looking at the photos of local hunters with their dead animals. Not many vegans in that group. I noticed the bathrooms and remembered the half-hour drive back to Chico. “I’ll be right out,” I said tucking my thumbs into my belt loops and hoistin’ up my trousers. “This buck’s stoppin’ here.”