John Berg stands, rail-thin, behind the bar at Dressel's. His shock of white hair and long mustache invite caricature. His voice rises from some depth, we imagine, of profound existential contemplation. We know folks who hold him in a combined estimation of awe and fear.
The standard story is that somebody who commands such a presence is really a sweet, regular guy. We're happy to report that Berg is not a sweet, regular guy. Berg is complex and perverse. He has an intimate knowledge of the follies of humanity. He can rail eloquently against the puritan aspects of the American character. He's a font of hard truths.
And he mixes terrific drinks -- a superlative martini, a chocolate concoction that makes us swoon.
And there is, we admit, something sweet about him, too.
To avoid useless fat, check out the best of the meal of the day at WC -- breakfast, if only for the world's best affordable coffee. It's not pretentiously "gourmet," but it's good and hot and, chances are, it moves quickly. The worst thing for coffee is to sit and burn. A large java with a plain cake doughnut -- individually wrapped -- comes to a reasonable $1.11. It's just the right mix of sugar and caffeine to jerk you into alertness. While waiting for a WC employee to pour the coffee into a paper cup with a faux Starbucks logo, don't forget a napkin to wrap around it. Coffee-cup holders are nowhere to be found. But where else could you get good coffee, a government-issue doughnut and a chance to hear a customer at 8:30 a.m. in the drive-thru order chicken rings with melted "cheese"?