On my way to Matt’s, I got a call from said dad, who was meeting me there. “Have you seen this place,” he asked, dubious. “Are you trying to remind me of my childhood?”
Seeing how my father grew up in a not-very-nice section of Springfield, MA, I could tell that wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I said, as my Uber driver looked back at me disgusted by my tired use of a cliché. “But what if the cover is falling off,” he responded, and then hung up on me.
When I got there, I could kind of see his point. From the outside, Matt’s is not an aesthetic marvel. It will not win Architectural Digest awards. It looks like someone put 80% of a giant boarding house on top of a small red hut. And yet, when we walked in, my father visibly relaxed. “This looks like your grandpa’s basement,” he murmured as we were led to our seats. He wasn’t lying. The wood paneling above the bar, the white christmas lights snaking along the ceiling, random pictures of various sizes dotting the walls, the formica tables, everything about it felt like my grandfather’s prized basement bar. Except the food. Thank God.