How I ate my summer vacation

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ScreamingChicken
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2013/08/11 17:01:39 (permalink)

How I ate my summer vacation

Since all my expected traveling is done for the summer I've decided to do a single summary thread instead of breaking meals and places into specific subforums, although it's not really a trip report as it doesn't have the local color of reports by people like Buffetbuster and Wanderingjew.
 
Every year I take a trip to Ohio and it's always been the last weekend of August, but this year we changed things up a bit and it wound up being in mid-July.  I left home on Wednesday the 10th with my sights set on Commiskey, Indiana, where Lurton's Country Cafe can be found.  Mlinkinhoker has mentioned it several times here and I'd also heard about it from someone on a different board, so I figured it was worth a stop.  Commiskey itself is pretty small and Lurton's isn't much to look at from the outside.

 
The interior is functional and not at all fancy; some people might be put off by this but not me.  Note the menu board.

 
The semi-open kitchen is behind the tall counter (no seating that I could see).

 
It's true - Lurton's has Elvis memorabilia everywhere!

 
I hadn't eaten anything since waking up 7 hours earlier so I decided that a beef manhattan was just the thing with which to refuel.

 
Real roast beef, real beef gravy, and real mashed potatoes was just what I needed!  This was a great sandwich, filling and flavorful, and even better was that it was prepared by some really nice people.  I couldn't have had a better lunch!

 
 
After eating and chatting at Lurton's (the woman in charge and I had an interesting conversation about vintage camera equipment) it was on to my next destination: Clifty Falls State Park and the Clifty Inn, just outside of Madison.  I had hoped to spend a couple of hours hiking the trails but it had rained quite a bit that day and the day before, and they were just too wet so I had to walk the paved roads instead.
 
The original inn was destroyed by a 1974 tornado (the same system that spawned the one that hit Xenia, Ohio?) so the current structure is less than 40 years old, and much more modern than its siblings.  Still, it doesn't feel too hotel-ish.

 

 
This commemorative plaque is affixed to a boulder at the rear of the buildings.

 
Additionally, there's a nice historical vignette outside the main doors.  The older gentleman at the lower right was the inn manager in the 1940s and apparently the inn's chicken dinners were so popular he had to go out daily to find and procure chickens for the nightly menu.  I found it interesting that the caption didn't explicitly say he bought them, only that he acquired them.  Hmmm.

 
I guess if you have "Falls" in your name a mini-waterfall is appropriate.

 
The dining room.  As it was Wednesday it didn't get very busy.

 
Dinners start with warm biscuits lightly dusted with sugar and cinnamon, and served with a flavored butter (I think it was either apple or honey, but I didn't use it and can't remember).  Ordinarily I'm not big on sweet things but the biscuit had just the right amount of sugar and was quite good.

 
When in Indiana one orders a BPT, and here's the inn's version.  It was on the thin side but tasted fine.

 

 
This was one of those rare occasions when I had a taste for dessert, so after weighing my options I ordered...the 2-piece chicken dinner.

 
My pleasant and efficient server Nancy had recommended both the BPT and the chicken, and I was not led astray.  The chicken had a thin, somewhat salty crust in the Indiana tradition and was the perfect end to the meal.  I was kind of surprised that my potatoes came with brown and not chicken gravy, but certainly that was nothing to quibble about.

 
After dinner I returned to my room, watched a little baseball on TV, and called it a night fairly early, as I had a busy day coming up.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2013/08/11 17:13:06
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36 Replies Related Threads

    JRPfeff
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 17:08:26 (permalink)
    Good start Brad. Is that your colorful auto in the first picture?
    #2
    buffetbuster
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 17:21:51 (permalink)
    Son, you better have some proof before you accuse a man of chicken russlin'!

    That is one great looking roast beef sandwich and mashed potatoes.
    #3
    1bbqboy
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 17:27:23 (permalink)
    Never heard of a beef Manhattan. Is that because it has a top piece of bread? Looks good.
    #4
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 17:46:35 (permalink)
    The next morning I was up early because Hinkle's in Madison opens at 6, and I had decided that a burger would be a great start to the day.

     
    When I drove by it seemed dark and that worried me a bit.  For good reason, as it turned out, and to add insult to...well, insult, I guess, CajunKing later told me that the Regatta had been cancelled because the Ohio River was too high!

     
    Fortunately the inn also serves breakfast so I got by with a half-order of biscuits and gravy and some home fries before hitting the road to meet CajunKing at Bonaparte's Retreat in the little burg of Napoleon.

     
    Like so many other places in so many other small towns, Bonaparte's Retreat is a combination of a bar and restaurant.

     

     
    There was no question about what we would be ordering!

     
    Another winner!  The chicken was outstanding and unlike the Clifty Inn version from the night before there was a notable presence of black pepper in the crust.

     
    It was nice to meet Donald (great guy - anyone passing through SE IN should look him up) and we talked for awhile after the plates had been cleared, and then it was time to hit the road for Ohio...and an item that I'd somehow managed to avoid during my previous 14 visits to the Buckeye State.
     
    Cincinnati chili!  My destination was Lebanon and Gold Star and Skyline are located right next to each other in town, so I picked up a small 4-way (no onions) at each and found my way to a local park to eat.

     
    OK, that's off my bucket list.  They were fairly similar although it seemed like Gold Star (left) had a more pronounced cinnamon and/or cumin taste while Skyline had a very subtle tart/clean note, and I thought the spaghetti worked well with the chili.
     
    That was the end of any interesting food for the remainder of the trip.  There was a decent but unremarkable bratwurst patty at a Waynesville sports bar and several home-cooked meals, and the long drive home on Sunday was fueled by bottled water and Corn Nuts.
    #5
    mar52
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 17:53:22 (permalink)
    Very nice, Brad! 
     
    Now I want fried chicken!
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    leethebard
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 18:05:13 (permalink)
    Great start..enjoying this....Oh that pepper-fried chicken looks great!!
    #7
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 18:45:03 (permalink)
    1bbqboy

    Never heard of a beef Manhattan. Is that because it has a top piece of bread? Looks good.
    I'm not sure, but around here sandwiches like that are almost always open-face and they're not known as a manhattan.  The Mayor, CajunKing, Louis, or another local might be able to provide some details.
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    ann peeples
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 18:56:23 (permalink)
    Great looking food, Brad! Especially the beef manhattan........!
    #9
    carolina bob
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 19:38:12 (permalink)
    I love your photos Brad, especially the ones of Bonaparte's Retreat's interior and the fried chicken.  I had that chicken a number of times during my stay in Batesville and it's just as wonderful as you said. The staff is very friendly and helpful too. Hopefully I'll get back down there for a meal one of these days.
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    hatteras04
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 20:44:24 (permalink)
    Did they give you the bags of cheese to add. It's not a 4 way without it.

    We only have skyline here in Columbus but I have had Gold Star a few times and thought it was pretty good. We always try an independent one when in Cincinnati.

    Too ba about Hinkles. I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to the one in Bloomington.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 20:49:54 (permalink)
    1bbqboy

    Never heard of a beef Manhattan. Is that because it has a top piece of bread? Looks good.

    Around here they call it a Split. I have absolutely no idea why.
    #12
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 21:51:00 (permalink)
    The only other trip I took was the annual family vacation in northwestern Wisconsin.  We'd been passing Beach's Roadside on the south side of Phillips for years so I finally decided we should check it out.

     
    Just like Bonaparte's Retreat above, Beach's is a little bit of everything that caters to both the locals and the visitors.

     
    There were 5 of us and the lunch order consisted of 3 burgers, a salad, and a breaded pork cutlet.  The burgers were good and the cutlet seemed like it'd been tenderized prior to being hand-breaded; nothing earth-shattering, just a decent meal at reasonable prices.

     

     

     
    Right now you're thinking, "What's the big deal?" and ordinarily I'd agree except for one little thing: the homemade potato chips.

     
    Beach's cuts and fries its own chips and they were some of the best I've ever had (I know that seems like high praise for the lowly potato chip).  The thickness, salt level, amount of grease...everything was just right and that made all the difference with a side order that's often taken for granted.
     
     
    When we're on vacation Mrs. Chicken and I try to get away for at least one meal by ourselves.  Pull up an online map and find Delta, Wisconsin.  Not much to it, is there.  Maybe there's a town hall somewhere but for the most part it's highway and forest...and the Delta Diner.

     

     
    Inside the diner's the real deal.  On the end, manning the flattop, is co-owner Todd.  We were lucky enough to get the corner booth and speak with him when things had slowed down a little, and it turned out he's from the town just west of where we live and he knows southern Wisconsin well.

     

     
    The Diner serves a fixed breakfast menu all day along with a couple of blue plate specials; I can't remember for sure but the specials might change from breakfast to lunch/dinner.  Since we were there for breakfast I chose one of the specials: a tortilla filled with pulled pork and then placed inside an omelet, with Memphis-style slaw and barbecue sauce on top.

     
    The pork is smoked in house and the slaw and sauce are made from scratch as well.  It might seem like an odd combination of ingredients but the end result was extremely good; the sauce was a little sweet but balanced nicely with the tang of the slaw dressing.

     
    Mrs. Chicken went the more traditional route with eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon, and toast.  Her breakfast was also very good (what, you think I didn't steal a bite?) but what really stood out (on my plate as well as hers) was the toast, a multigrain bread from Ashland Baking Company that was excellent enough to make me stop and take notice after my first bite.  I hate getting toast that's indifferent or worse, but that was no problem here thanks to its firm-but-not-tough texture and mild, slighty sweet grainy taste.  The bacon was also very good, with a good balance of meat and fat.

     
    The Delta Diner's been written up in our local paper and for good reason: it has the hook to get people in the door and the food to keep them coming back, and a nice story to boot.
     
    And that does it for the summer of 2013...I think!
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/08/13 12:48:02
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    phlmaestro
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 21:52:08 (permalink)
    Great photos.
     
    I thought about going to Lurton's on my recent trip to southern Indiana, but couldn't fit it in. I've seen some good looking photos of pie there.
     
    Does anyone know if there is any relation between the Hinkle's in Madison and the Hinkle's in Bloomington? They appear to have different menus. I'm wondering if the name is just coincidental or if there was a family split at some point. They both date back to the early 30s.
    post edited by phlmaestro - 2013/08/11 21:53:40
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    leethebard
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 22:04:44 (permalink)
    Hey that Delta Diner could have been plucked from right here in Jersey. Yep, it IS the real thing!!!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/11 22:16:32 (permalink)
    hatteras04

    Did they give you the bags of cheese to add. It's not a 4 way without it.

    We only have skyline here in Columbus but I have had Gold Star a few times and thought it was pretty good. We always try an independent one when in Cincinnati.
    Yes, the cheese was packaged separately.  I wound up using just one serving for both bowls of chili.
     
    I'd certainly consider trying an independent but know absolutely nothing about Cincinnati, so I figured for the first time I'd take the easy way out.  Now next year might be a different story...
    #16
    Foodbme
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 00:13:55 (permalink)
    1bbqboy
    Never heard of a beef Manhattan. Is that because it has a top piece of bread? Looks good.

    Neither have I. All I've ever heard it called is just a Hot Roast Beef Sandwich.
    #17
    easydoesit
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 03:41:28 (permalink)
    Another great job, SC.  I wish you would take more vacations.
     
    I've seen the hot beef sandwich called a Manhatten in some places in Florida, in particular some of the Amish places in Sarasota.
     
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    pnwchef
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 09:27:14 (permalink)
    SC, great pictures, great looking food........thx for taking the time, looks like you and Mrs C had a fun time..................Bill
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    lleechef
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 10:50:59 (permalink)
    I love that diner!!!  Wish we had one near us.  Unfortunately we have a Skyline very close by.  MH loves it and I can't stand it but once in awhile he drags me there kicking and screaming....and I get a coney dog.
    Great photos!  At least you didn't starve this summer!!!
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    pnwchef
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 13:56:13 (permalink)
    In most of the diners on the East coast, they almost always had Hot Turkey and Hot Beef sandwiches on the menu. They would also call it Open face Hot beef sandwich..............pnwc
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    pnwchef
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 13:56:57 (permalink)
    In most of the diners on the East coast, they almost always had Hot Turkey and Hot Beef sandwiches on the menu. They would also call it Open face Hot beef sandwich..............pnwc
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    CajunKing
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 17:10:29 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken

    hatteras04

    Did they give you the bags of cheese to add. It's not a 4 way without it.

    We only have skyline here in Columbus but I have had Gold Star a few times and thought it was pretty good. We always try an independent one when in Cincinnati.
    Yes, the cheese was packaged separately.  I wound up using just one serving for both bowls of chili.

    I'd certainly consider trying an independent but know absolutely nothing about Cincinnati, so I figured for the first time I'd take the easy way out.  Now next year might be a different story...

    That means next year you come back for a chili tour of Cincy.
    #23
    CajunKing
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 17:15:57 (permalink)
    Beef Manhattan - the name comes from an Indianapolis Restaurant late 30's into the 40's.  I cant think of the name to save my life right now.  I know it is no longer open.  It is bread, roast beef mashed potatoes and gravy.
     
    I think the name is regional, not sure though
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    rumaki
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 17:19:28 (permalink)
    Here's what Wikipedia says about the term "Beef Manhattan." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Manhattan
     
    I can neither confirm or deny, other than to say that when I was growing up in Indianapolis in the late 1950s-early 1970s,  "Beef Manhattan" made regular appearances on our school lunch menus.  I have never heard of a "Turkey Manhattan."
    #25
    CajunKing
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 18:12:04 (permalink)
    Turkey Manhattan made their appearance the week after Thanksgiving.  The rest of the time it was beef manhattans at school.
     
    I just realized i had been to Lurton's many times in previous times.
     
    Commiskey, Indiana was home to Camp Louis Ernst, my BSA summer camp.  It had a "lake", dining hall, camp sites, trails, rifle and shotgun range, trading post, winter cabin.  The camp is in great disrepair, and none of the features I remember are there any more the lake has filled in over the years, the rest fell down or was torn down for safety reasons.
     
    The camp was also home to the "Gollywampus" a mythical creature that roamed the woods at night with a giant red eye, and scared the heck out of many a young camper.  The "Gollywampus" was first reported there the year they dammed the creek to make the lake, they were using block and tackle to place a HUGE Limestone block in the center of the dam, when the rope broke and crushed a man to death.  They couldnt get the rock off of him until the next day when a crane could be brought in, but during the night the Gollywampus came to the camp and moved the rock, the next morning all they found was the rock moved and the trail of blood that led into the surrounding hills.  To this day on a dark and gloomy night you can still see his red eye glowing in the woods, and hear the moanful wail of the killed workman.
     
    Or so we told all the younger scouts who came to camp ernst for the first time.
     
    Commiskey is right up the road and on wednesday night of summer camp we would hike there and get ice cream or a root beer float.
    #26
    agnesrob
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 19:42:32 (permalink)
    Delicious vacation!!
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/12 20:41:46 (permalink)
    I am really enjoying your summer vacation. Really good stuff. And I love the diner.
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    strongy78
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/13 03:19:26 (permalink)
    "This was one of those rare occasions when I had a taste for dessert, so after weighing my options I ordered...the 2-piece chicken dinner. "
     
    Funniest thing I have read this week :-).  Great report!
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    easydoesit
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    Re:How I ate my summer vacation 2013/08/13 08:42:50 (permalink)
    Actually, I misspoke above when I mentioned the Manhattan as being only beef, in that Florida Amish restaurant.  I remembered later that it included turkey and meatloaf as well.
     
    Here is the menu from Yoder's in Sarasota (famous for their fried chicken, SC!).  Scroll down a bit, on the left side under soups are some hot gravy sandwiches identified as Manhattans.
     
    http://yodersrestaurant.com/images/Yoders%20DM%202012-2013%20Web%20.pdf
     
    Boy, that's a fun place to drive in, Sarasota and Bradenton area!  Between the older folks going real slow, and the zoomy locals that hate 'em, you better be paying close attention!  Rush hour is a special treat!
     
     
    #30
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