Hot!2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas

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ChiTownDiner
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 13:50:49 (permalink)
Prior to picking buffetbuster up from the airport, I had made an opening stop at the Roadfood reviewed Women's Exchange.  One of 18 located throughout the US, it is one of 3 or 4 to serve food year round.  The gift shop is nicely arranged and was seasonally decorated for Christmas with some very beautiful ornaments and tree decorations.
 
 I had previously visited the Women's Exchange approximately 4 years ago and loved it.  Open only for lunch M-F, the hours are 11:30am - 1:30pm.  Four hungry guys armed with cameras really caught the attention of the all female volunteer staff and before we knew it, we made their newsletter....probably as strangest group of visitors.  I enjoyed it them and was looking forward to enjoying it again.
 
The entrance guides you right through the gift shop and to a small hostess counter.  Once in que, you look at the board for the days menu selections of which there are three.  There is typically one hot dish - my visit included a chicken breast with southern sides, a sandwich choice with soup which was ham and veggie platter.  I went all in on the veggie plate which is accompanied by a beverage choice.  Add ons are either soup or pie...the custard pie proved to be the correct choice!
 
Grab any seat and sit back.  While I had arrived 10 minutes before "opening," the gift shop opens earlier so there were already 20 folks seated.  My unsweetened tea arrived in minutes followed by my veggie plate about 5 minutes later. 
 
While the choices rotate, my day had 4 outstanding selections.  Candied yams, black eyed peas, greens and an outstanding squash casserole.  Each item is separated by a small finger of white bread and the entire foursome is topped with a corn muffin!  Pure eating pleasure!   I could have devoured several of these, but I knew outside influences would be arriving at the airport in another hour or so.
 
Instead, I turned in my casino chip and a slightly warmed slice of custard pie arrived.  The perfect ending to a great Memphis start!
 
Heading down the road, it was cherry malt time at the Roadfood reviewed Wiles-Smith Drugstore.  Prime lunch time saw 8 guys sitting around eating lunch.  I couldn't help but think this place could be a gold mine with the right menu, promotion and presentation.  If you like nostalgia, this is the place for you...and the malt was pretty good too! 
 
Before heading to the airport to pick-up you know who, I had spied a sign for Donald's Donuts and made a quick stop.  Upon entering, the first sign I saw was for kolaches which really surprised me as I knew I wasn't in the Czech part of Chicago or in Texas.  I went with the flow and grabbed a kolache and two donuts. The donuts were fairly standard issue and wouldn't necessarily bring me back.  The kolache was really bad and would actually keep me away.  My resume does boast about having consumed 42 million kolaches...so I feel comfortable with this assessment.
 
With time running out...I headed to the cell phone lot to pick-up he whose name must not be mentioned...and the story continues form the top of page 1! 
#61
buffetbuster
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 13:51:03 (permalink)
Buddy-
So we can take credit away from wanderingjew?  I need no convincing for that!
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/10/25 13:53:43
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ChiTownDiner
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 13:54:08 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse

buffetbuster A little background on my experience at Payne's.  A few years ago, a handful of us stopped in at another Payne's, located on Elvis Presley Boulevard and it was truly awful.  The meat was incredibly fatty, the service was painfully slow, the toilet in the bathroom had overflowed (okay, that may have been my fault, but luckily we had a plumber with us) and the place was just dirty.  Looking back on it, we should have walked out rather than eaten there.  This has made me not want to eat at Payne's ever again. 

Since then, the Sterns named Payne's their top choice for barbecue pork sandwich in their 500 Things To Eat book.  That got my attention.  On top of that, wanderingjew visited the other Payne's location on Lamar Avenue and declared it his favorite, also.  Okay, those two things convinced me to give them another try.
Ahem.  Also, IIRC, it was moi who convinced wanderingjew that he should disregard his bad experience at the Elvis Presley Blvd location and check out the one on Lamar.  If I'm mistaken on that count, I apologize, but still...
Buddy

 
He's always stealing credit!  +

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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 13:58:17 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse

buffetbuster A little background on my experience at Payne's.  A few years ago, a handful of us stopped in at another Payne's, located on Elvis Presley Boulevard and it was truly awful.  The meat was incredibly fatty, the service was painfully slow, the toilet in the bathroom had overflowed (okay, that may have been my fault, but luckily we had a plumber with us) and the place was just dirty.  Looking back on it, we should have walked out rather than eaten there.  This has made me not want to eat at Payne's ever again. 

Since then, the Sterns named Payne's their top choice for barbecue pork sandwich in their 500 Things To Eat book.  That got my attention.  On top of that, wanderingjew visited the other Payne's location on Lamar Avenue and declared it his favorite, also.  Okay, those two things convinced me to give them another try.
Ahem.  Also, IIRC, it was moi who convinced wanderingjew that he should disregard his bad experience at the Elvis Presley Blvd location and check out the one on Lamar.  If I'm mistaken on that count, I apologize, but still...
Buddy


mmmmmmmmmm..............not so fast......
 
That wasn't me...
Besides the fact that I take all the credit for you discovering  Sokolowski's,  I had previously visited Paynes on Lamar back in April of 2005 (see my "Deep South Baseball trip" for confirmation.
 
When we revisited in 2009. we went to the Elvis Presley Blvd location because it was the closest to where ever we were coming from and we assumed that they were affiliated with the Lamar Blvd location
 
So once again...I take ALL the credit
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ChiTownDiner
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:03:27 (permalink)
I thought Carolina Bob while breakfasting at the Arcade Restaurant across from the old station had put in a good word for Payne's also! 
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:04:47 (permalink)
Hey guys...fantastic report. I can almost taste that Payne's sandwich. A pure thing of beauty. Just a note..."AFI"=A Fire Inside.....They're OK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yzu-4kJg6g
post edited by Pancho - 2013/10/25 14:06:12
#66
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:12:23 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner

I thought Carolina Bob while breakfasting at the Arcade Restaurant across from the old station had put in a good word for Payne's also! 


Carolina Bob was a complete figment of your imagination....
He never really existed
We were just humoring you.
" />
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:25:29 (permalink)
wanderingjew

ChiTownDiner

I thought Carolina Bob while breakfasting at the Arcade Restaurant across from the old station had put in a good word for Payne's also! 


Carolina Bob was a complete figment of your imagination....
He never really existed
We were just humoring you.
" />

 
What about the three wishes he granted me? 

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buffetbuster
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:26:16 (permalink)
I think the next Roadfood poll should be, who do we believe should get the credit for Payne's, BuddyRoadhouse or wanderingjew.  Since Buddy is from Chicago, I plan on voting for him at least a half dozen times!
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 14:29:05 (permalink)
I'm throwing Carolina Bob into the mix based on my comments above...looks like a three-way!  
 
BTW, Chicago rules applied, Buddy wins in a landslide much like JFK! 
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 16:55:36 (permalink)
Wouldn't it be great if our toughest day consisted of fitting in more pie after an amazing day of eating?!! We did spend some time with the owner - Tim had found this place after reading that the owner won a national pie championship with the chocolate pie, and last year won for both the chocolate and strawberry pie. When you walk in their small storefront, there are two cases on each side of the room with the multiple awards and trophies that she has won for various pie contests. She told us a story of entering a pie contest recently in Miami and driving down there with her chocolate pie. The night prior to the contest, she unfortunately placed the pie near the edge of the bed and it flipped upside down on the floor.  While it would make me cry, I bet the part that wasn't actually touching the carpet still tasted pretty good :-)
#71
JB-ME
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 21:12:00 (permalink)
buffetbuster

JB-ME

buffetbuster

Thank you JB-ME! What pie or pies would you have chosen?

I think the  German chocolate, pecan, custard, blueberry, and key lime would be in the running for potential top picks. It is so hard with so many choices! My favorite pies to make as well as eat are fruit and berry pies. I can control the sugar and not make them too sweet.
Considering how great the blueberry pies are in Maine, it probably wouldn't live up to your expectations.  Still, some solid choices there. 

    This probably sounds strange, but I can't remember the last time I had pie in a restaurant in Maine. I don't usually have the room for dessert. You are probably right about the Maine blueberry pies being great. They start with wild Maine low-bush blueberries, which are smaller, sweeter, and more flavorful than their high-bush NJ cousins. Just my opinion. I know some like the others!
   I am pretty sure the last blueberry pie I had was one I made. I like it with a regular top crust or with a crumb/streusel crust. Which I make depends on how the baking muse strikes that day. I used to buy half-flats or full flats (10 or 20 lbs) of fresh Maine blueberries in late July or early August and freeze most of them. That's roughly 7 or 14 quarts of berries. Yummy for making blueberry muffins, pancakes, cake, or pies.
   Add that wonderful-looking strawberry pie to my list. I, too, was thinking of the gel-type strawberry pie. That picture changed everything. 
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 21:45:21 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner

I thought Carolina Bob while breakfasting at the Arcade Restaurant across from the old station had put in a good word for Payne's also! 

 
 
Nope CTD, it wasn't me. I still haven't been to Payne's but hopefully one of these days...
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 22:22:47 (permalink)
We were thinking about you while we were in Memphis CB!
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 22:40:43 (permalink)
wanderingjew
BuddyRoadhouse
buffetbuster A little background on my experience at Payne's.  A few years ago, a handful of us stopped in at another Payne's, located on Elvis Presley Boulevard and it was truly awful.  The meat was incredibly fatty, the service was painfully slow, the toilet in the bathroom had overflowed (okay, that may have been my fault, but luckily we had a plumber with us) and the place was just dirty.  Looking back on it, we should have walked out rather than eaten there.  This has made me not want to eat at Payne's ever again. 

Since then, the Sterns named Payne's their top choice for barbecue pork sandwich in their 500 Things To Eat book.  That got my attention.  On top of that, wanderingjew visited the other Payne's location on Lamar Avenue and declared it his favorite, also.  Okay, those two things convinced me to give them another try.
Ahem.  Also, IIRC, it was moi who convinced wanderingjew that he should disregard his bad experience at the Elvis Presley Blvd location and check out the one on Lamar.  If I'm mistaken on that count, I apologize, but still...
Buddy
mmmmmmmmmm..............not so fast......

That wasn't me...
Besides the fact that I take all the credit for you discovering  Sokolowski's,  I had previously visited Paynes on Lamar back in April of 2005 (see my "Deep South Baseball trip" for confirmation.

When we revisited in 2009. we went to the Elvis Presley Blvd location because it was the closest to where ever we were coming from and we assumed that they were affiliated with the Lamar Blvd location

So once again...I take ALL the credit
My apologies.  It was The Travelin Man whom I encouraged to revisit Payne's on Lamar, as evidenced here.
 
And yes, you did steer me toward Sokolowski's, thank you very much.  Are we never going to hear the end of it for cryin' out loud?
 
Buddy
#75
JRPfeff
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/25 23:00:40 (permalink)
Buddy R -
 
WJ & TTM aren't the same guy? Really?
 
-  Dazed & Confused
 
 
#76
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/26 02:39:53 (permalink)
I know--when was the last time you saw them together at the same time?
 
Buddy
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/26 07:08:40 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse

I know--when was the last time you saw them together at the same time?

Buddy

 

 
 
 
??????
#78
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/26 08:35:09 (permalink)
Who's on first?
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/26 08:55:55 (permalink)
TnTinCT

Wouldn't it be great if our toughest day consisted of fitting in more pie after an amazing day of eating?!! We did spend some time with the owner - Tim had found this place after reading that the owner won a national pie championship with the chocolate pie, and last year won for both the chocolate and strawberry pie. When you walk in their small storefront, there are two cases on each side of the room with the multiple awards and trophies that she has won for various pie contests. She told us a story of entering a pie contest recently in Miami and driving down there with her chocolate pie. The night prior to the contest, she unfortunately placed the pie near the edge of the bed and it flipped upside down on the floor.  While it would make me cry, I bet the part that wasn't actually touching the carpet still tasted pretty good :-)

Now that you (and others) mention that they participated in the national competition, I think I remember these people!  They compete in the commercial category and decorate their pies on site.  If it's the same person, she's a nice, very fun person--I spent time with her at the 2012 awards party.
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/26 12:25:39 (permalink)
wanderingjew

Seven more and you've got enough for a minyan.
 
Gut Shabbes,
Buddy
 
P.S. Notice they have their backs to us.  Could be anybody, proves nothing.
 
Buddy
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2013/10/26 12:28:18
#81
ann peeples
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/28 19:08:47 (permalink)
I saw them-at the  same time-in Mobile. Proof positive.......not a good thing! LOL!
 
#82
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/28 20:19:54 (permalink)
Our plans for the day on Thursday was to spend it in NE Mississippi.  But that doesn't mean we couldn't get breakfast on the way out of town!  Neither CTD or Cousin Johnny had been to Blue Plate Café out in the eastern suburbs of Memphis before, so this was our destination.  I have been here twice before with mixed results.
 
When we pulled up ten minutes before they are supposed to open at 7:00AM,

there were several cars in the parking lot and people sitting inside.  It may not be obvious from the photo, but the exterior is bright yellow.  
 
Cousin Johnny got the waffle, with the apple cinnamon compote.  

I can't really remember him saying he particularly liked it or disliked it.  Sorry.  CTD ordered the spinach omelet (which I want to say he added sausage and cheese),

which contained creamed spinach, something you don't normally see.  I enjoyed the bite I had, but CTD said he tired of it quickly and only ate about half of it.
 
Wanting to save as much appetite as possible for the onslaught of food we would be eating later in the day, I just ordered the biscuits and gravy. 

The biscuits were a little dry and too crumbly for my taste.  Even worse was the gravy which was hopelessly thin.  So thin, I didn't even bother taking a photo.  Sorry, again.
 
The Blue Plate Café is a friendly place, the food is fairly priced and the waitstaff is certainly attractive, but the quality of the food isn't good enough for me to come back.
 
Blue Plate Café
5469 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN
901-761-9696
 
No big deal, we know we have some really good meals just a few hours ahead in Mississippi! 
#83
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/28 20:32:08 (permalink)
Bummer. 
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/28 21:02:14 (permalink)
TnTinCT 
The night prior to the contest, she unfortunately placed the pie near the edge of the bed and it flipped upside down on the floor.

I can't even imagine how heartbreaking that must have been!  Apparently, it wasn't meant to be.  I can definitely see why that strawberry pie would win awards. 

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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/29 07:50:45 (permalink)
Not much to add except the Blue Plate is a pretty cool place and I really loved the glow in the pre-dawn darkness.  As for my omelet, the creamed spinach sounded intriguing...and it was for the first dozen bites.  But then it became to overpowering and I soon tired of it leaving behind almost half.  It relay overpowered everything in the omelet and on the table.  Perhaps a lessor portion (I know - heresy!) would have made for a better marriage between egg and fillings! The biscuits were as buffetbuster described non-descript, but the gravy was just plain flavorless and a real low point on the tour. 
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/29 08:22:32 (permalink)
An hour and a half later, we arrived in the city of Corinth, MS, in the far northwest corner of the state.  Our first stop was Abe's Grill, a place I have been eagerly looking forward to since first reading about it in the 2011 edition of Roadfood.  And much of that had to do with those two little magical words, "chocolate gravy!"
 
To say that the outside of Abe's Grill

is busy is an understatement.  There are vintage signs everywhere.  My favorites include this long one

declaring it the Mid-South's favorite biscuit and a trio of weather beaten signs,

including one for a funeral parlor.  The inside is tiny and there is nothing but tightly packed in counter seats.  It is so cozy that when I went to go use the bathroom, two guys sitting down eating had to get up to let me get around the corner of the counter.  And every square inch of the interior


is also decorated in signs, license plates and anything else they could get their hands on.  It is so cluttered that they deemed it necessary to hang a sign declaring which way to the exit

and even that is upside down!
 
The menu is a big board on the back wall. 

The first thing we were asked is what we wanted to drink.  My sweet tea was delivered in a frosty glass jar

and since I love my tea as cold as possible, I really appreciated this small touch.
 
There was one man cooking the food and taking some orders, while one woman was refilling coffee and also taking orders.  There was no room behind the counter for a third person.  The man yelled in our direction and asked if we wanted eggs.  Sure we said.  Then we were asked what meats we wanted with our eggs.  Soon, our plates were delivered and I still hadn't even been able to order my biscuits and chocolate gravy yet.  When I asked for it, the lady seemed a little annoyed, but there was no way I coming here without trying it.
 
My country ham was wafer thin, but still packed a salty punch. 

And I love dipping my ham in the red eye gravy.  The biscuits were hard topped, but the insides were moist and flaky.  Johnny had the sausage,

which came in thin patties, with crispy exteriors.
 
CTD got a cheeseburger,

which was excellent.  You could tell that they use fresh ground beef here and this was another thin patty, with nice crusty edges on a grilled bun.  Hey CTD, what kind of cheese was that on there?  Whatever it was, they melted it well.  It is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine when restaurants don't melt the cheese on a burger.
 
Unfortunately, the chocolate gravy was a disappointment. 

My one previous encounter with chocolate gravy was at the Wagon Wheel in Arkansas and the gravy was rich and full flavored.  Here, it was too liquidy and sweet and reminded me of Hershey's syrup.  I would not order it here again.
 
Food-wise, Abe's gets a mixed review, but we sure did enjoy the atmosphere.
 
Abe's Grill
206 Old Highway 72
Corinth, MS
662-286-6124
 
Next up, slugburgers!
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/10/29 08:42:02
#87
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/29 08:43:57 (permalink)
I thoroughly enjoyed Abe's...it's a great show without the cover charge!  We were fortunate to have timed our entrance to find 4 empty seats all in row.  We sat down in the corner three, and then shifted right as part of an audible to get a better view.
 
Minutes later, Abe yelled for us to move back down because by now, folks were standing behind other folks waiting for a stool to open up.  We shifted back left and boom...the food was out so fast it only minutes since we had sat down.
 
I am not sure what cheese was on my burger as I never did see it listed but it was really good.  Crispy, fresh, hot, cheesy...I loved the burger as did Cousin Johnny and buffetbuster. 
 
The banter was nonstop with regulars, strangers and Yankees alike!  Guess which category we were sized up for immediately!  Lots of to go orders were flying out the door.  Nothing was ever written down...it was orally transmitted or just plain yelled across the room!  Same when it was time to pay...tell Abe what you had and he tells you the price, always in round dollars!
 
The biscuits were really good and I was amazed at the number being baked.  Tray after tray had a 6 inch paint brush applied coat of melted butter swished on and then the were placed under the heat lamp.  It seemed a tray of 30 biscuits was added to the holding area every 5 minutes. 
 
Abe mans the flattop and keeps everything cooking at once....no small feat with the number of orders coming in.  This is Roadfood America at its finest!
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/29 08:46:53 (permalink)
Ahhh, I forgot about the paint brush.  Thanks so much CTD!
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Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/10/29 09:07:17 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner

Not much to add except the Blue Plate is a pretty cool place and I really loved the glow in the pre-dawn darkness. 

CTD, I love this observation--I can totally visualize your experience.  You must be a morning person, because who else would appreciate this.
 
BB -  Abe's Grill looks wonderful!  The signage outside is fabulous, the menu looks great (funny pricing, huh) and reasonably priced, and it's a perfect RF destination, which I've now bookmarked.  I'll skip the chocolate gravy, though--thanks for the tip on that!
 
On their FB page, they mention that they've created a new Web site, so I'm sharing that link here:  http://www.abesgrill.com/
 
I'm enjoying your trip immensely!
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