Max and I recently took a two week road trip to Michigan via Pennsylvania and Ohio, returning through Saulte Ste. Marie, and Ottawa, Ontario. One of the pleasures of travel has always been the opportunity to eat out.
With the exception of one lunch at Subway, we avoided fast food and chain restaurants. We like to take secondary roads, driving through small towns and enjoying the scenery. Sunday, in little town along Route 20 in northern Ohio we found an unimpressive little dairy bar/diner the only alternative to McDonalds. The ambiance was funky with 50’s memorabilia.
Frank Sinatra posters hung on the wall surrounded by old 78 records. One wall was lined with license plates from the 50s, another held old post cards. The women’s rest room held a huge photo of Marilyn Monroe and fancy 1950s dresses hung from hangers on the walls.
The room was full of cheerful people having a late breakfast or an early lunch. It boded well for the food and we weren’t disappointed. I had a perfectly cooked, hand formed, burger with grilled onions that tasted like the ones from Uncle Bob’s Diner in Flint, Michigan when I was a kid. Wonderful!
It was downhill from there. With the exception of meals eaten with family (my sister Beth’s meatloaf was winner) we were not impressed with the food.
One meal at white tablecloth restaurant we splurged on a tender but flavorless filet served with overcooked roasted potatoes and stringy asparagus. Whether at an upscale restaurant or a small town diner we were uniformly unimpressed and disappointed with the food.
We arrived home late one afternoon. I mixed a cup of ginger wine with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and a teaspoon of sesame oil as a marinade for some boneless chicken thighs. After a couple of hours I simmered the thighs in the marinade and served with fluffy rice and lovely tender crisp green beans. We agreed that it was better than any of our expensive restaurant meals.
Cooking is definitely worth the effort.