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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Sunday, April 7, 2013 1:38 AM

Molecular cuisine, it's not. Chicago does offer three Michelin stars at Grant Achatz's cutting edge Alinea, but does Alinea offer a slinger in a re-purposed trolley car? No, for that you'll have to travel ten minutes north, to the neighborhood of Lakeview, and the notorious Diner Grill.

For ages the apocryphal legend of the diner/trolley/railroad dining car connection has been making the rounds. Truth is, while many roadside diners have a sleek, aerodynamic profile, very few can call a former mass transit vehicle their home. Diner Grill is one that can, having led a previous life as a pair of Evanston trolley cars. Today it's an unregenerate example of a classic, 24/7 old-fashioned diner, with a dozen stools along the counter, true short-order cooks behind that counter, and nothing fancy on the menu.

The thing to eat is a slinger, a dish more commonly associated with St. Louis, 300 miles to the south. A slinger is one of those eat-it-all-on-a-dare dishes, like Rochester's infamous garbage plates. This one starts with a pallet of hash browns, upon which is laid a pair of thin diner burgers, a flood of beany chili, fried onions, and a couple of fried eggs, with a side of toast and butter. We like to add a few generous shakes of hot sauce. And, again like the garbage plate, no individual element is memorable in its own right, but together, well, it's still not great food, but it's fun and it's filling.

A slinger at noon is OK, one at 6 p.m. is not bad at all, at 10 p.m. it's darn good, and at 2 a.m. it's the best food on earth. Finish one and, if they have any on hand (they often don't), you'll get a certificate to commemorate your gluttony. Try to get one of those at Alinea!
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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Sunday, April 7, 2013 1:29 AM

We're happy to report that T.A., the Portuguese restaurant in Fall River, MA has reopened for regular business after their recent closure due to a case of salmonella. The city and state public health departments affirmed that all problems have been corrected. See the review of T.A.

Source: The Herald News
Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Sunday, April 7, 2013 1:19 AM

Have you ever given any thought as to why Roadfood is called Roadfood? It's really about good, inexpensive, regional food, produced and served by independently owned purveyors. What's the road got to do with it? Seems that today, anyone who has any real distance to travel does so by plane, but there once was a time when long-distance auto travel was not so uncommon. Such long trips required meal breaks, and wouldn't it be great to know about the interesting things to eat in the places you were driving through, preferably in restaurants that didn't draw you too far off your route?

Michael Stern will be the first to admit that, even in the original 1978 Roadfood, the concept of "food on the road" was already morphing into inexpensive regional cuisine, whether close to or far from a major highway. Yet it doesn't require eagle eyes to notice the large number of restaurants near highways in that first Roadfood book. Which brings us to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Turnpike runs 360 miles from Pennsylvania's eastern to western borders, a five to seven hour drive end to end, which is long enough to send most long-distance drivers in search of sustenance along the way. And therein lies the problem, because the Pennsylvania Turnpike has long been notorious for its extremely meager dining options, both on the turnpike and in the nearby communities. The situation is so bad that most of those who have rolled on its pavement would be grateful for any sort of tip at all that would lead them to something more promising than the rest areas or the burger and chicken chains.

One option we'd like to offer is the Summit Diner in Somerset, towards the western end of the highway. The Summit is a 1960 Swingle diner that has seen some pretty extensive remodeling yet still exudes the soul of a classic diner. OJ is served in tall, curvaceous Coke glasses with handles, coffee comes in heavy mugs, and breakfast platters are fresh and generously proportioned.

We especially appreciate one dish known as The Scrapyard, which starts with a base of that Pennsylvania breakfast favorite called scrapple, upon which is layered fried potatoes, eggs, and cheese. The Western Skillet swaps in bacon for the scrapple and adds peppers, onions, and mushrooms to the mix. Hotcakes are tall and fluffy. Pies are homemade, and are a particular point of pride at the Summit. These are not destination dishes, mind you, but simply the well-prepared eats one hopes for, too often in vain, from a diner.

If you're traveling west on the turnpike and have spent the night in one of the Breezewood hotels, we recommend skipping the spirit-sapping comp breakfast of powdered eggs and stale pastries and breakfasting an hour later at the Summit for a meal that will feed not only your belly but your soul.
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Posted on Sunday, April 7, 2013

THE fish sandwich

There's no fish fresher, no sandwich better than the one made by Coleman's. The crunch of these filets, seen in extreme close-up, is one of the most appetizing sounds on earth. And the taste ... and the aroma: forget about it!
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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Saturday, April 6, 2013 9:20 AM

Attman's Deli of Baltimore (see the review) was originally hoping to open their suburban DC branch this month, but plans have changed. They're moving into the Cabin John Shopping Center in Potomoc, in a space formerly occupied by another deli. The original plan called for using the previous deli's general layout with minor modifications but they've decided to, instead, gut the space and start from scratch. This means a June opening at the earliest.

Posted by Marlene Steinberg on Saturday, April 6, 2013 9:17 AM

Catfish and more catfish. The slogan at Huck's is, "A good place to eat catfish." Must be right because Huck's Catfish in Denison, Texas has people driving up from all over Texas and down from all parts of Oklahoma for their take on Mississippi-style catfish. Huck's is located just south of the Oklahoma border right off I75. Seating is in one large room where everyone is eating catfish and you can't forget you're in Texas! Texans are proud people.

Served with the obligatory pickled tomato relish and slices of raw onion, Huck's fried catfish is offered in a number of ways. Eat it by itself or pair it up with fried shrimp or stuffed crabs; either way, you can't go wrong. For those that don't want fried food, Huck's also offers steamed catfish and grilled salmon. But trust me, order the catfish. You won't be disappointed.

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Roadfood of the Day: Kitchen Little - Mystic, CT
Posted on Saturday, April 6, 2013


California Benedict is visual evidence of Kitchen Little's motto, 'AM Eggstasy!' It is just the sort of fresh, sunny dish that starts the day off right.
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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Friday, April 5, 2013 2:20 AM

It's not Galatoire's but it is (see the review of Galatoire's). Last summer's news that Galatoire's, of New Orleans, had purchased the building directly to its east piqued everyone's interest. What was planned for the space? The answer opens on April 10: Galatoire's 33 Bar & Steak. Galatoire's executive chef will be overseeing the menu, a New Orleans-accented focus on meat and potatoes. And they take reservations!

Posted by Marlene Steinberg on Friday, April 5, 2013 1:58 AM

Ever read about those small neighborhood diners where the characters in your favorite novels eat? Starling Diner feels just that way. Nestled in the middle of a residential neighborhood, Starling Diner is a favorite hangout to all those "in the know."

They serve the best French toast I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. This Broiled San Francisco Stuffed Toast is a French baguette stuffed down the center with mascarpone cheese and topped with your choice of sauce. I ordered the brandied apple topping and I think the word exquisite describes it perfectly. Preparation, presentation, and taste make the Broiled San Francisco Stuffed Toast my favorite thing on the menu.

Be sure to try the polenta potatoes. They're worth the trip! Take ordinary polenta, mix it with potatoes and cheese, and it becomes a side dish I want with everything I order.

If you get to Starling Diner early enough you'll be able to order freshly made lemon curd with your scones. They make it fresh every day and when it's gone, it's gone. Be early!

Judging by the way the employees assist you, you'd swear you were being personally attended to by the owner. Makes you feel special.
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Roadfood of the Day: Brown Hotel - Louisville, KY
Posted on Friday, April 5, 2013

Hot brown

The Kentucky hot brown is formally known as a sandwich, but there is no way you can pick it up with your hands: utensils are essential!
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