Cafeterias / Meat and Threes

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Chumley
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2003/07/24 20:40:10 (permalink)

Cafeterias / Meat and Threes

Dear Fellow Food Lovers,

My wife and I will be heading down from Philly to Mobile for a wedding shortly. The last time we did this trip, it was a BBQ bonanza. This time, we thought we'd try to focus on southern style cafeterias and meat & threes, although all suggestions are welcome!

The route includes I-81 into Tennessee, I-40, I-75, I-24 into Georgia and I-59 and I-65 into Alabama.

We have lots of places to go in Mobile but any suggestions for the Auburn/Opelika area of Alabama, where we will be parked for a few days, would be most appreciated.

Chumley
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    EdSails
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 20:46:12 (permalink)
    Seeing as I'm a California boy.....please tell me what is "meat & threes"?
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 20:57:12 (permalink)
    Glad you are coming down our way into Knoxville. I suggest the S & S cafeteria where the selections is wonderful.

    I have done lunch there for at least 20 years and the food there is consistent, excellent and always taste good. I suggest their Mexican cornbread, any veggies, veal parma, trout almond, coleslaw or any dessert they have.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 20:57:22 (permalink)
    Well, being from NYC, I'm not fully qualified to explain it but I'll try.

    A Meat & Three is a restaurant, usually in the south, that serves an array of side dishs (almost always including seasonal regional vegetables). You choose two or three of them and they get served with whatever meat the cook has prepared that day. Chicken, Ham, Steak, etc. Sometimes these are Buffets, sometimes Cafeterias.

    I'm not proud -- anyone who can provide a better definition, please jump right in!
    #4
    Art Deco
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 22:15:43 (permalink)
    Not a bad attempt at all, Chumley! I am fortunate to have lived in Nashville, the Meat & Three capital of the world, for many years now. The only correction I would make is that you get to choose a meat from several (generally anywhere from 4 - 6) as opposed to being stuck with whatever was prepared that day. Vegetable choices (very broadly defined so as to include items like macaroni & cheese as a vegetable) may number as many as a dozen. Lots of folks (myself included) will go for an all vegetable plate (3 or 4 choices) this time of year especially. Nothing better than a plate of fried okra, sliced tomatoes, lima beans and creamed corn when it's all freshly picked & prepared. Add some good cornbread on the side and I'm in heaven...
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    Art Deco
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 22:17:15 (permalink)
    And Chumley, if you really want to experience good meat & three's on this trip, then head west on I-40 when you get to Knoxville. I can put you on to several excellent meat & three's in the Nashville area...
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/24 22:46:44 (permalink)
    Chumley, while you say that you have plenty places to go when in Mobile (and hope its some of the great seafood spots both there and particularly over in Baldwin Co.), I lived in Mobile for 30 years and would highly recommend The Dew Drop Inn there (for its hotdogs and meat and three plate lunches) and the Tiny Diny Restaurant there for its meat and threes and great pies, should you have time for such type eats when in Mobile. While not exactly a meat and three place (tho it does have a daily plate lunch) I would recommend Willie's Place in Brewton as the best spot to eat between Montgomery and Mobile (tho you'd have to detour off of I-65 to go through Brewton). There is a Road Food Review here of The Dew Drop Inn, and I've made several more detailed posts, and many other members have made many more posts, under several Alabama-Birmingham-Mobile-Gulf Shores topics under this "Where Should I Eat" Forum which you might find of some interest or value. Sorry, I can't be of much help to you regarding cafeterias or Auburn-Opelika area eateries. Have a good trip down and may the lucky couple have a great wedding. Liketoeat
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/25 07:14:33 (permalink)
    Chumley: as you are going into Chattanooga, jump off interstate onto Dodds and go to the Sunset BBQ for super great ribs. Opens at 4:00PM

    Paul E. Smith
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/25 11:06:00 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Liketoeat

    Chumley, while you say that you have plenty places to go when in Mobile (and hope its some of the great seafood spots both there and particularly over in Baldwin Co.), I lived in Mobile for 30 years and would highly recommend The Dew Drop Inn there (for its hotdogs and meat and three plate lunches) and the Tiny Diny Restaurant there for its meat and threes and great pies, should you have time for such type eats when in Mobile. While not exactly a meat and three place (tho it does have a daily plate lunch) I would recommend Willie's Place in Brewton as the best spot to eat between Montgomery and Mobile (tho you'd have to detour off of I-65 to go through Brewton). There is a Road Food Review here of The Dew Drop Inn, and I've made several more detailed posts, and many other members have made many more posts, under several Alabama-Birmingham-Mobile-Gulf Shores topics under this "Where Should I Eat" Forum which you might find of some interest or value. Sorry, I can't be of much help to you regarding cafeterias or Auburn-Opelika area eateries. Have a good trip down and may the lucky couple have a great wedding. Liketoeat



    Liketoeat, Thanks so much for the bounty of info on Mobile! I will be pretty much bound at the hip to my in-laws while there so I have less flexibility but so far, I've gotten a few faves scheduled:

    Dick Russell's (for Breakfast)
    Lighthouse (for Seafood)
    Either The Pit or Saucy-Q for BBQ (still negotiating)
    Pohlman's Bakery (for Chocolate Praline Dobosch Torte!)

    Still angling for Dew Drop Inn and perhaps now that you mention it, Tiny Diny. If the timing is right, we will try to stop in Brewton as well.

    Not enough meals in this trip to satisfy me!
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/25 13:06:15 (permalink)
    Chumley, thanks for reply and sounds as tho you guys are indeed well supplied for Mobile meals. Sure you will be in good hands with the in-laws.You threw one in there which I had no idea any longer existed, Pollman's Bakery. I just checked a new Mobile phone directory I "requisitioned" when there last month and see that Pollmans indeed still exists at its original Broad St. location as well as has a couple of branches. I'll surely have to hit it next time back down. Hope you all might have chance to get out on the Causeway and over anywhere in Baldwin County for some great eating - anything from fish shacks to Grand Hotel. As a cafeteria PS, did you know that Mobile was the home of the big Morrison's cafeteria chain with operations thruout the southeast, all of which are now gone, I believe, save for one still operating under the Morrison's name on Airport Blvd. in Mobile, and about which I've not heard too much good. Believe Morrisons was bought out by Picadilly. Have a great trip and wedding.
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    Lone Star
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/25 14:23:17 (permalink)
    Meat and Three - Case in point:

    We just had lunch at the Triple A restaurant on Airline drive here in Houston. It is right next to the farmers market. Their slogan is "Where nice people meet to eat since 1942"

    There was a choice of smothered steak, fried chicken and cream gravy, chicken gizzards, fried catfish, or gumbo. You then selected three veggies from a choice of mashed potatoes and gravy, baked eggplant, sliced tomatoes and onions, pinto beans, greens, skillet fried corn (delicious!), green beans or okra.

    A basket of rolls and cornbread accompanies the meal along with a pitcher of tea.

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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/25 18:23:47 (permalink)
    EdSails - Can't think of a better definition/example of a meat and three than LoneStar just gave above. His lunch today was a classic, and one which I surely wish I'd had!
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    rhpenland
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/27 00:19:19 (permalink)
    A great meat and three I know of is located in Birmingham, Alabama not too far off I65. Its called Bert's on the Bluff and its fantastic - real southern food (and I should know, Ive lived here all 29 years of my life). The meats change on a daily basis but there are typically 4 options. Examples would include meatloaf, fried chicken, liver and onions (not my fav but thats just me), and catfish (on fridays I believe). As far as vegetables go, theres the usual suspects (corn, mashed potatoes, beans) but some true southern treats as well (collard greens, fried okra, stewed apples). Its not too hard to find, but you may want to look them up in the phone book and call for directions/hours if you're intrested. If you get off at the Lakeshore Road exit off I65 it will put you pretty close to Bert's - there are one or two turns from there, however, and since I can't remember the exact street names, it will be best for you to call. Hope you can make it a stop,

    Rob
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/27 16:17:40 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Liketoeat

    Chumley, thanks for reply and sounds as tho you guys are indeed well supplied for Mobile meals. Sure you will be in good hands with the in-laws.You threw one in there which I had no idea any longer existed, Pollman's Bakery. I just checked a new Mobile phone directory I "requisitioned" when there last month and see that Pollmans indeed still exists at its original Broad St. location as well as has a couple of branches. I'll surely have to hit it next time back down. Hope you all might have chance to get out on the Causeway and over anywhere in Baldwin County for some great eating - anything from fish shacks to Grand Hotel. As a cafeteria PS, did you know that Mobile was the home of the big Morrison's cafeteria chain with operations thruout the southeast, all of which are now gone, I believe, save for one still operating under the Morrison's name on Airport Blvd. in Mobile, and about which I've not heard too much good. Believe Morrisons was bought out by Picadilly. Have a great trip and wedding.


    Pollman's is indeed still in business. The Pollman family had sold the bakery a while back but they were so unhappy with the way it was being run that they bought it back and continue to run it to this day. I have to honor of being related to them (through my wife, of course). They are gracious and lovely people. They allowed me to tour the back of the bakery once and it was an experience I'll never forget.

    As for Morrison's, I've been to the one on Airport Blvd. I remember the chain fondly from trips to Florida earlier in my life. I've been to a couple of Piccadilly's as well but I don't enjoy them as much.

    Believe it or not, Morrison's actually opened up in NYC many years ago. I was shocked to see it and even confirmed the affiliation with the manager. It was in a mall food court and it was NOTHING like the Morrison's I used to know and love. This place more resembled a Boston Market than a Morrison's. I wasn't surprised when it was gone a few months later.
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/27 21:31:28 (permalink)
    Chumley, thanks for this wonderful news re the Pollmans operating Pollman's Bakery. I just thought it was long gone, but to find that the family is operating it is the best news ever. And congratulations on being Pollman's related. Over the years I surely enjoyed many goodies from the original Broad Street location, and plan to do so again on my next visit. I've never really been a cafeteria person, but back in the old days Morrison's was about as good as any cafeteria I ever saw. Am thinking particularly of their custard pies and some of their fish and seafood dishes. Morrison's to me always was the downtown Merchants' National Bank building location, the Imperial House on Government Street, and in more recent years, the big Springdale Plaza locations. Have never tried the Airport Boulevard one that's still open, but as said, heard some not too good reports on it, and assume tho still hanging on to the Morrison's name that it is a Picadilly operation (or is run by someone other than the Outlaws, the original Morrison's owners and management). Never knew anything about a Morrison's of any sort having been in NYC, even briefly. Your description of it, I think, explains its short life span. It certainly does not sound like the Morrison's we knew. Did you ever get to experience Constantine's (either downtown on Royal Street or in the Ramada Inn on Government Street), or Bailey's (when it was in its prime) way down on Dauphin Island Parkway? Great eating in years way past at both those restaurants.


    I've got to make an unexpected and unfortunate trip to Pascagoula, MS, tomorrow due to death in immediate family of dear Mobile friends, but will probably not get on over into Mobile, and doubt this will be much of an "eating" trip, though might somehow get in a meal at Fisherman's Wharf in Ocean Springs. You all have a great trip to Mobile and a great wedding. Liketoeat
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/27 22:09:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Liketoeat

    . . .I've got to make an unexpected and unfortunate trip to Pascagoula, MS, tomorrow due to death in immediate family of dear Mobile friends, but will probably not get on over into Mobile, and doubt this will be much of an "eating" trip, though might somehow get in a meal at Fisherman's Wharf in Ocean Springs. You all have a great trip to Mobile and a great wedding. Liketoeat


    Liketoeat, I'm sorry for your and your friends' loss. Thank you for your good wishes. I'll let you know how it all turns out. Chumley
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/28 00:00:02 (permalink)
    Thank you, Chumley, for your kind words and thoughts. You all do have a great trip and wedding. I'll surely be looking forward to hearing all about it. Liketeeat
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/07/30 11:38:06 (permalink)
    Back from quick trip to Pascagoula, MS, on which did get over to Ocean Springs for that eagerly anticipated great seafood dinner at Fisherman's Wharf, only to discover that six weeks ago it was sold to McElroy's, an old established Biloxi seafood restaurant, which is now operating it as a second McElroy's. Had not eaten at Biloxi McElroy's in years, so decided to try this one. There was absolutely nothing wrong it, but it was the same seafood that you can get at any good seafood restaurant anywhere along the central Gulf Coast. It did not have those unique, different, special dishes which always made Fisherman's Wharf such a treat and worth that extra effort, that special drive, to obtain. Fear with having "gone down for the third time" that Fisherman's Wharf is finally gone for good. In neither of its Ocean Springs locations was it ever quite as good as at its original Biloxi site (victim of Mississippi Gulf Coast casino boom ) but it was still great. Next time there will have to get new restaurant recommendations from Ocean Springs friends who weren't home yesterday. Ocean Springs appears surprisingly booming, with many new shops and restaurants. Hope you all's eating adventures when in Mobile, Chumley, do not involve the disappointment I had in learning of demise of Fisherman's Wharf. Liketoeat
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/13 13:58:21 (permalink)
    The only dissappointment we had on this trip was not having enough opportunities to try all of the eateries that were recommended to us.

    The best non-home-cooked meals that we had in Mobile were at The Brick Pit barbecue and at Pollman's bakery. I can't recommend The Brick Pit too highly. In fact, it's the best I've ever had. Now, I know that's a Yankee talkin' but I know what real BBQ is and I've eaten a lot of it over the years. Not only were the pulled pork and the ribs perfection but it's very clear that these people pour their hearts and souls into this food. I liked the sauces less than other places I've been but the meat was so good, it hardly mattered. I also had an outstanding banana pudding for dessert.

    I think I mentioned earlier that the Pollman's are kin to my wife but I wouldn't recommend them for that reason alone. The Chocolate Praline Dobosch Cake is to die for! We froze two and brought them home. We've been back a week and the first one is gone

    With all the wedding activity, we didn't eat out much in Auburn and so there's not much to say about our time there.

    The culinary highlight of the trip was an unplanned and unexpected trip to Nashville and I am absolutely kicking myself for not taking up Pogophiles' offer for guidance on Nashville eateries. Nevertheless, Arnold's was an absolute standout! The two meals we had there were among the best we've ever had. Both the Fried Chicken and the Ham, along with the usual sides, were perfectly prepared. My wife and I found ourselves wishing we could live in Nashville so we could eat there every day! Interestingly, Arnold's is reviewed in the Roadfood book but I don't see a review online here.

    Other good meals we had in various places in the South were Wright's Dairy-Rite (Staunton), Mrs. Rowe's (Staunton), The Lighthouse (Bayou La Batrie), Stone's Cafeteria (Christiansburg), Belle Mead Cafeteria (Nashville), Pancake Pantry (Nashville), and Dixie BBQ (Johnson City).

    Ooops! Forgot to mention Country Place (Chattanooga) and Dick Russell's (Mobile)

    All-in-all, it was an excellent trip
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/13 14:51:35 (permalink)
    Chumley: How did you rate Dixie BBQ in Johnson City? I went to Ridgewood which is only a few miles from there on Sunday. Did not knlow they were closed and I went back to Dixie. I got the chopped plate which was smothered in sauce. ???

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    Vince Macek
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/13 21:49:10 (permalink)
    If you go through Atlanta, do so through Tucker, a little town in the northeast of the metro area. Its main street is not part of a major highway, so it still looks like it did 50 years ago - just south of the RR tracks and across from the lumber is Matthew's Cafeteria. There's usually 4 or 5 meat entrees (fried chicken if you're lucky) and several vegetables, at which point I urge you to get the turnip greens. You pay by the item and can eat cheap, but I usually drop around $8 at lunch - too much good stuff.

    Something completely different is the cafeteria in the Dekalb Farmers Market (on Ponce de Leon Avenue east of Decatur) - of course the produce is fresh, and the diversity of the items mirrors the international staff and clientele. And you pay by weight; something like $3.50 a pound. Very good deal, but the atmosphere-free dining room is very chilly - bring a sweater.

    Oh, and way out of town, east of Augusta, is Miller's Bread Basket in the town of Blackville, S.C. The name plays up the fresh baked stuff. I seek this place out whenever I'm in the area.
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    NancyPeter
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/14 00:01:58 (permalink)
    Too bad Hap Towne's in Nashville is gone. Michael Stern has written about it; if you do a search on this site, you'll find his article. I had the pleasure of eating there back in the 80's
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    signman
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/14 00:44:05 (permalink)
    Chumley,

    I'd love to hear more detail of you stops in Staunton and Nashville. I enjoyed Arnolds too.
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    Art Deco
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/14 11:07:21 (permalink)
    Chumley,
    Looks like you did fine without my help! Arnold's is one of the top meat & three's in Nashville (Swett's, Sylvan Park & Monell's being the others, IMO). Belle Meade Buffet is also excellent, if you choose well. I hope you got the hash browns at Pancake Pantry -- the only better ones I've ever had were at the Otis Cafe in Oregon. They are the main reason I go. All in all, looks like a great trip!
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/14 13:32:15 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    Chumley: How did you rate Dixie BBQ in Johnson City? I went to Ridgewood which is only a few miles from there on Sunday. Did not knlow they were closed and I went back to Dixie. I got the chopped plate which was smothered in sauce. ???

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN

    Sundancer,

    I thought it was good but it didn't scale the heights in the way that The Brick Pit did. We both ordered the chopped plate with the Tennessee Red sauce. I opted for regular cole slaw and the excellent home fries; my wife picked the potato salad and the special slaw, which I thought was interesting but no more than that.

    Like you, we really wanted to go to Ridgewood but as we raced for the TN/VA border on 40 West, we got nailed in traffic around Dollywood. The delay was enough to make us too late for Ridgewood, so Dixie was our consolation prize.
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    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/15 10:41:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by signman

    Chumley,

    I'd love to hear more detail of you stops in Staunton and Nashville. I enjoyed Arnolds too.


    The Staunton stops were quick as we were in transit. On our way south, we stopped at Wright's, which is not more than 10 minutes off of 81, on Route 11. The hamburgers and the shakes were fine, but nothing I would travel any distance for. Using a place like Island Burgers and Shakes in NYC as a benchmark, they were Ok. I would also say they were comparable to Dude's Drive-In further down 81 in Christiansburg. More notable, however, were the Onion Rings, which were exceptional. Fresh, thinly battered and well-cooked, they were the highlight of the meal.

    On the way back, we stopped at Mrs. Rowes. This was our second time there and it was somewhat less consistent than our last visit. Of the entrees, we had one winner and one clunker. The clunker was the Steak in Gravy, which was utterly lacking in any kind of flavor or pleasing texture. The winner was the beef pot pie, which was full of beef and fresh vegetables and had a crust that held it's own against the filling without overwhelming it.

    We got cookies to eat on the way back and they were quite average.

    Please keep in mind that while I may seem critical of these places, I would take the worst among them over a Corporate in a heartbeat!
    #26
    Chumley
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/17 16:50:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by pogophiles

    Chumley,
    Looks like you did fine without my help! Arnold's is one of the top meat & three's in Nashville (Swett's, Sylvan Park & Monell's being the others, IMO). Belle Meade Buffet is also excellent, if you choose well. I hope you got the hash browns at Pancake Pantry -- the only better ones I've ever had were at the Otis Cafe in Oregon. They are the main reason I go. All in all, looks like a great trip!


    My wife ordered the hash browns and they were fantastic. Slow cooked, soft on the inside and a great crust on the outside. Good Country Ham, too. I opted for those wonderful sweet potato pancakes, which I really enjoyed. We got Buttermilk and Blueberry to go and ate them on the road on the way back. They travel well in a really cold cooler and it beats Waffle House in a pinch!
    #27
    Art Deco
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/20 10:12:59 (permalink)
    We went to a wedding in the DC area last year and stopped at Mrs. Rowes twice. I'm hoping I just got them at a bad time, but we were generally disappointed with it, especially the fried chicken. The Stern's refer to it as being especially good for breakfast, which we did not get (we were there for lunch going up, and dinner coming back). Are they just not as good for other meals?
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    Michael Stern
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/20 10:33:14 (permalink)
    FWIW, Mrs. Rowe passed away several months ago. It's still run by her family, but she was such a powerful presence, it's hard to imagine her passing won't effect things ... hopefully, only temporarily.
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    Liketoeat
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    RE: Cafeterias / Meat and Threes 2003/08/20 11:43:22 (permalink)
    Chumley, glad you all had great trip south and to the wedding, even if you didn't have opportunity to try all the places you wished to do. That's the way it always is. Sounds as though you all really did well at the places you did get to. I can't wait to get back to Mobile to get some Pollman's goodies after all these years, and I must try The Brick Pit again. Everything I've ever read/heard of it jibed exactly with your comments, but the one time I was there, I thought it was good, but nothing to rave about. Obviously, it/me/both was/were experiencing an off day that day. Sometime tell me more of The Lighthouse at Bayou La Batre. Thanks.
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