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 11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries

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Michael Stern

11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 8:38 AM (permalink)
In recent days, I've reported on favorite dishes and some favorite people encountered while hunting things to eat in the last year. Here are 11 places from 2011 that are etched in memory not only for their food, but for their location, their good looks (or extreme lack thereof), or other Roadfoodly charms.
 
How I managed to not know about Lobster Landing in Clinton, Connecticut, for so long is vexing. I knew I was going to like it at first sight when I visited in October ... and its hot lobster roll did not let me down:

 
Lobster Landing shows that in the Roadfood world, dilapidation often is a sign of good eats. There are few better examples than Bolton's of Nashville:

 
On the other hand, frilly and pretty can be good, as I found at a cute little cupcake bakery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, named Cake Nouveau:

 
Sometimes, lack of charm is charming in and of itself. Take Darrell's Place of Hamlin, Iowa. No, it is not a farm utility shed! It is a restaurant that happens to serve one of the best tenderloins in the state:

 
Then there is the high style of the California coffee shop, exemplified by Pann's of Los Angeles:

 
As history-minded travelers, we could not resist visiting the Chocolate House in England's Lake District, located in a 17th century stone building. Up a very narrow flight of stairs in the extremely cozy tea room, we feasted on ginger cherry brownies and drank what's known as a Highwayman, which is caramel-based hot chocolate finished with cream and burnt sugar nibs:

 
Talk about tight quarters, Medieval England has nothing on Chicago's Donut Vault, the entire interior of which is visible here:

 
While at the Minnesota Fair, I revisited one of my long-time favorite extremely-cramped restaurants, Al's of Dinkytown:

 
Although the Lakeside Diner of Stamford, Connecticut, is, like Al's, a real diner with real diner prices, it offers windowside donut-lovers a million-dollar view:

 
But our favorite location of the year has to be that of The Red Barn cafe in Exira, Iowa, in the shadow of heartland grain elevators:

 
I end my ode with a tip of the hat to a landmark restaurant that closed in 2011, the wild-and-crazy Super Sunday biker hangout (and home of really good roast turkey sandwiches, hot and cold), Marcus Dairy Bar of Danbury, Connecticut. This photo was taken on Marcus's last day, February 6, 2011. The place was packed.

 
#1
    leethebard

    • Total Posts: 6083
    • Joined: 8/16/2007
    • Location: brick, NJ
    Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 9:16 AM (permalink)
    Interesting places...loved the little cafe in the Lake District..one of the most beautiful places on earth!
     
    #2
      wanderingjew

      • Total Posts: 7407
      • Joined: 1/18/2001
      • Location: East Greenwich/ Warwick, RI
      • Roadfood Insider
      Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 11:29 AM (permalink)
      Many times the charm (or lack thereof) of a Roadfood establishment is just as alluring as the meal itself.
       
      #3
        Twinwillow

        • Total Posts: 4899
        • Joined: 4/15/2006
        • Location: "Big D"
        Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 1:13 PM (permalink)
        Re: Marcus Dairy bar. Maybe if this place was patronized and packed more often than the last day, they'd still be open.
         
        #4
          rumaki

          • Total Posts: 967
          • Joined: 3/1/2008
          • Location: Minneapolis, MN
          Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 1:31 PM (permalink)
          My husband and I adore Lobster Landing.  It's one of our very favorite sources for hot lobster rolls (the only kind worth having, IMHO).
           
          #5
            Michael Stern

            Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 1:52 PM (permalink)
            Twinwillow


            Re: Marcus Dairy bar. Maybe if this place was patronized and packed more often than the last day, they'd still be open.


            The main reason it closed is that the real estate is too valuable for a mere dairy bar (especially since Marcus Dairy now does its milk processing elsewhere). In its place is coming a high-end shopping center including a Whole Foods market.
             
            #6
              mar52

              • Total Posts: 7608
              • Joined: 4/17/2005
              • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
              Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 2:14 PM (permalink)
              Love it!  Those little shacks call to me if and when I see them.  Unfortunately it's not often enough.
               
              I do eat at Pann's occasionally and marvel at the grime on those rock walls.  You just can't clean a rock.
               
              (I love the use of the word Vexing)
               
              #7
                Michael Stern

                Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 2:27 PM (permalink)
                mar52


                Love it!  Those little shacks call to me if and when I see them.  Unfortunately it's not often enough.

                I do eat at Pann's occasionally and marvel at the grime on those rock walls.  You just can't clean a rock.

                (I love the use of the word Vexing)


                Egads, I never thought to look closely at the rocks.
                 
                #8
                  mar52

                  • Total Posts: 7608
                  • Joined: 4/17/2005
                  • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
                  Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Wed, 12/28/11 3:19 PM (permalink)
                  @ Egads.
                   
                  #9
                    ChiTownDiner

                    Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Thu, 12/29/11 9:04 AM (permalink)
                    Ginger + Cherry + Brownie = right up my ally! Would love to try that combo!
                     
                    #10
                      sk bob

                      • Total Posts: 1801
                      • Joined: 12/29/2005
                      • Location: South Daytona, FL
                      Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Thu, 12/29/11 9:10 PM (permalink)
                      Marcus Dairy Bar...what a shame.
                      at least I'll have the memories.
                       
                      #11
                        CajunKing

                        • Total Posts: 6317
                        • Joined: 7/6/2006
                        • Location: Live at Saint Clair
                        • Roadfood Insider
                        Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Fri, 12/30/11 12:30 AM (permalink)
                        Michael Stern


                        mar52


                        Love it!  Those little shacks call to me if and when I see them.  Unfortunately it's not often enough.

                        I do eat at Pann's occasionally and marvel at the grime on those rock walls.  You just can't clean a rock.

                        (I love the use of the word Vexing)


                        Egads, I never thought to look closely at the rocks.

                         
                        At least those rocks are cleaner than Pike Place Market Chewing Gum Wall. 
                         
                        #12
                          CajunKing

                          • Total Posts: 6317
                          • Joined: 7/6/2006
                          • Location: Live at Saint Clair
                          • Roadfood Insider
                          Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Fri, 12/30/11 12:31 AM (permalink)
                          Some of my favorite Que shacks have grease running down the outside of the stack.
                           
                          They may not look purty but the food is YUMMMMMMMMMY
                           
                          #13
                            Foodbme

                            • Total Posts: 9575
                            • Joined: 9/1/2006
                            • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                            Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Fri, 12/30/11 1:05 AM (permalink)
                            Rocks is supposed to look dirty! That's what they is----REAL HARD, SOLID DIRT!
                             
                            #14
                              Foodbme

                              • Total Posts: 9575
                              • Joined: 9/1/2006
                              • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                              Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Fri, 12/30/11 1:11 AM (permalink)

                              Here's one you can put in your Album;
                              Higley Hot Dogs, Higley AZ
                               
                               
                              <message edited by Foodbme on Fri, 12/30/11 1:28 AM>
                               
                              #15
                                chewingthefat

                                • Total Posts: 6100
                                • Joined: 11/22/2007
                                • Location: Emmitsburg, Md.
                                Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Sun, 01/1/12 11:51 AM (permalink)
                                Michael, I always have to laugh when a new customer comes in and says, "I never stopped before because your place looked kind of crummy from the outside"
                                 
                                #16
                                  Wintem01

                                  • Total Posts: 205
                                  • Joined: 3/26/2007
                                  • Location: Columbus, OH
                                  Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Thu, 01/5/12 2:08 PM (permalink)
                                  I am vexed as how a rock looks dirty? It's a rock!!
                                   
                                  #17
                                    MiamiDon

                                    Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Mon, 02/27/12 6:24 PM (permalink)
                                    Chewie, I sort of thought your place looked too clean and conventional!
                                     
                                    #18
                                      MetroplexJim

                                      • Total Posts: 3706
                                      • Joined: 6/24/2007
                                      • Location: McKinney, TX
                                      Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Tue, 02/28/12 7:45 AM (permalink)
                                      Was that Cali place (Pann's) where they shot Pulp Fiction?  You are right about the design.  The counter chairs are spectacular.
                                       
                                      #19
                                        mayor al

                                        • Total Posts: 15069
                                        • Joined: 8/20/2002
                                        • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
                                        • Roadfood Insider
                                        Re:11 Places of 2011: beautiful, unusual, unlikely, and otherwise interesting eateries Tue, 02/28/12 9:03 AM (permalink)
                                        Michael,
                                          You have a real talent for writing food and location descriptions in a style that makes the reader want to visit these places !  Have you ever considered doing this sort of writing for a 'living' ?
                                         
                                        What??? OH, That Michael Stern ??  Well Then Never Mind ! I'm a little behind in my reading !! 
                                         
                                        #20
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