As ususal I am computer challenged and am trying to post and havin trubble.
I have traveled back and forth between Maine and Florida for many years. Restaurants come and go and great little places that once were favorites no longer exist. Here are some that still do because they are family businesses or have become fixtures. I prefer places with scenery and patio dining so know mostly of those…but due to weather conditions I will stick to these protected indoor joints.
In addition to a log of gas and mileage and expenses, I have, since 1993, kept a record of comments and insist that comments all be written down. These can include wise cracks, remarks overheard (the young gas pump jockey at the Vince Lombardi exit on the NJTPK who said “Oh yeah, you from Maine…that’s up there around New Haven.”) or the day dreams, big majorly important ideas, little known facts of history, brainstorms, songs on the radio, weather conditions, sightings of UFOS, whatever…. and sometimes they have to do with food.
If I am driving and see something/think of something and not alone, I try to rely on my daughter or companion to write down what I dictate.
Sometimes they resist and don’t want to cooperate, are more interested in their juice box or too bizzy fiddling with their sunglasses. This aggravates me so to help with these feeble efforts to document/record/take notes/WRITE while I drive, I tie a particularly nice glittery barreled pen to a notebook with a fancy gold ribbon so it doesn’t get lost but also so that it looks VERY important. I tell them in advance how important it is. I call it the IMPORTANT NOTEBOOK. I keep this wedged in between the cooler and the side of the van driver seat and it is in the same dog-eared 1987 AT&T planbook protective plastic cover thing year after year. I make sure to repeat and describe how IT IS A TRADITION…This year I used a notebook with BLACK PAPER and a pen with SILVER INK.
Oh yeah, I will also include HOW these places were found.
RINES DELI and NY Style Restaurant, Vernon, Connecticut, I-84, Exit 65. Near Hartford.
Open 7 am to midnight, seven days a week. Breakfast served at any hour. Take out. Pickles, cheesecake, pastrami, bagels, corned beef, hand-cut lox, full liquor license, the “taste of quality is long remembered.” They get your first name and use it. Mom found this one about forty years ago.
PATRICKS RESTAURANT. For Breakfast. North Carolina. In that boring stretch of I95 in between Rocky Mount and Smithfield. I suspect it is in Wilson but it is just off an exit. Wake up and look around as there are BIG BILLBOARD SIGNS for it alongside Rte. 95. You will also see signs in the area for a tobacco museum, maybe even the Ava Gardner museum but she is farther south on the highway I think. PATRICKS has everything you could ever want for a southern style breakfast, is buffet style and you can just keep filling up. About five bucks per person. Sit near a window and watch as the local people arrive. There is a giant sculpture-in-the-making in front of this place. It is composed of junk metal, all the stuff people have around their houses they can’t get rid of or don’t want to part with just yet…the sculpture is an on-going communal creation. We watched as a rather elegant couple pulled in, got out of their Cadillac and very carefully placed a hubcap on the “sculpture”. Found this place by asking this very polite young southern gentleman pumping gas at the exit where a good place was to eat other than the Pancake House. It was just a mile down the road from the exit.
The Hungry Heron, Sanibel Island, 2330 Palm Ridge Road. www.hungry-heron.com (941) 395-2352. Lunch and dinner, breakfast buffet Saturdays and Sundays. This place is usually very crowded (you must be willing to wait) at the end of the day but serves whatever is on their large and staggering menu all day long. It is great for lunch, no waiting around. The menu (250 items) is very amusing and interesting reading. They have televisions up high around the dining room tuned into the Disney channel for kids, but no sound. Clear local photos on the walls. All the food, especially the fish is fresh, incredible vegetables, all types of great salads and fruits. They don’t go in much for anything but fresh. They find out your first name when you arrive and make sure to use it too. Get a booth. Sit down, relax. The portions are gigantic and beautifully arranged. Your server is well-trained and attentive, will tell you immediately if you are ordering too much. Found this in a little tiny bike path guide. It is a bit hard to find but once you do, you’re there. Just keep driving around that pink parking lot. It is on the end.
CAPTIVA ISLAND, Florida. The Bubble Room. Just go. Do dessert and a drink but they won’t let you do this in high season. The Bubble Scouts serve you. Hang on to your hat. Saw this place for twenty years and finally had the courage to go in. It looked like a bad LSD trip from the outside. Wait til you see the inside.
ANGELS DINER. Palatka, Florida. If you like old time diners with old time prices, this is it. Since 1932. Curbside service if you prefer. Metal diner, art deco, some stained glass, an old trolley car with Coca Cola memorabilia and 45 records on the walls. Stools with red vinyl seats and black and white tiled flooring. Delicious Dreamsicle Shakes. Lousy flickering fluorescent lighting. Friendly huge waitress. Big Greasy Burgers and Fries and White Bread. Cardiac Arrest Specials. Not for vegetarians or health conscious. Got tipped off to this one by two angels who appreared on foot out of nowhere, an older couple who were holding hands and said they were from Maine originally. We were parked at a fourway, headed for the Ravine Gardens, looking at a map, discussing which route to take along the St. Johns River and kind of arguing. We were overheated and hungry.