Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report

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toddfleet
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Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/19/06 12:57 AM
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Hello, we are taking a Thanksgiving week road trip and will be posting our food finds along the way, hope they will be of interest to the group. We left Decatur IL Friday night and loosely plan to end up in Greenville/Spartanburg SC on Wednesday for dinner at the Beacon Drive In, Thanksgiving at the Biltmore in Asheville NC and head home on Friday after breakfast at the Moose Cafe. We will welcome any suggestions along the way too.

SATURDAY BREAKFAST at Loveless Cafe in Nashville TN
We had heard much about this Roadfood legend, including a few mixed reviews here and there. Some rave, some say it had slipped since changing hands and expanding. We were anxious to see if the hype was justified---I think it is. We arrived around 11AM and had a 1/2 hour wait, I felt not bad considering the crowd I expected. We were taken to our seat and immediately found a big bowl of butter pats in the little foil packs, a positive sign to me that these famous biscuits were not to be devalued by the management saving a few pennies on a flavorless corn oil margarine (this is always a big deal to me--can anyone else agree?) The biscuits arrived hot from the oven and IMO are as good as any I have ever had, small; but fluffy, hot and buttery. They were served with strawberry, blackberry, and peach preserves, a specialty of the house and also excellent, especially the strawberry, and I am not a big preserve fan. With these biscuits being so good I moved on to the tougher test--sausage gravy--a dish which is endlessly disappointing to me. This was no disappointment, obviously homemade, seasoned to my taste, the only improvement could have been larger chunks of sausage, which is just my own midwestern preference. The verdict? B&G as good as I have had anywhere, and that from a tough critic. I also tried the other house specialty, the country ham with red eye gravy, also much to my liking. My wife had eggs and sausage, which were good, and grits, which member wanderingjew warned were watery. Indeed they were, but I liked them OK. Some items were just a little pricy ($8.95 for eggs/sausage/grits/biscuits) but the $3.95 B&G was a bargan. Big thumbs up from me on the famous Loveless, I wish I could return sooner but there is more roadfood to be sampled.

SATURDAY DINNER was at Bennett's Pit BBQ in Pigeon Forge TN, our home base for a few days. We have been to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge before and have found the food only average, IMO usually just slung at tourists to turn a quick buck (please do note, however, that I am not a chain snob as some members are). We hope to improve our experience this time around, but I knew this stop would be just for sustinence and indeed it was also only average. The sign claimed Voted Best Ribs in 2005 (by whom?) and maybe they were, but our brisket was not the best of anything. It was purported to be smoked for 14 hours so you get smoky pink in every bite, but I had no smoke and almost no pink except for a little burnt edge to give me a few scarce bites of flavor. The lone sauce selection was too sweet and not enough smoke, another personal taste of mine (I never get enough smoke). The fries were OK, the corn on the cob OK, the baked beans not bad, but we are hoping for more interesting fare as the week progresses, see you all later, Todd

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/19/06 5:01 PM
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I hope you see this while out on the road!!
1. We agree on the evaluation of Bennets BBQ in Pigeon Forge. It was ok, but not worth discussing in any detail.

2. If at all possible, work out a stop at the Dillard House in Dillard GA on your trip. I promise you won't regret the extra miles ! See the review on this site for details. I would put this at the top of the list for a Great family style meal!!!Dillard is located right on the North Carolina-Georgia state line.

3. Coming back thru Knoxville? Try Litton's, a short distance off the Interstate in the heart of town. Again check the review on this site for that one. it is a great lunch Stop!

4. Depending on your homeward routing, consider a stop at the Moonlite BBQ in Owensboro, KY or at Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, KY. Both are reviewed here.

Have a Great Holiday trip!!

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/19/06 10:34 PM
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Thanks for the tips Al, we will try to work them in.

SUNDAY BREAKFAST Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee, still an attraction to midwesterners who are not able to have them at home and of course no review necessary here.
SUNDAY DINNER the Applewood Farmhouse at the Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge. The Applewood/Apple Barn is a Pigeon Forge institution and a big favorite of sundancer7 (hello Paul, thanks for the review). It is a large complex with gift shop, two restaurants, cider/winery facility and more of all things apple-related. The large facility is divided into smaller dining rooms, always preferred to big, loud single rooms. On being seated we found on our table was a big bowl of butter in the foil packs, a good sign for me, see yesterdays comments. You are also given a basket of the house specialty apple fritters and apple butter, both of which were excellent, even for one like myself who does not normally crave apples. The Sunday dinner menu includes complete meals including soup AND salad AND desert for one price, $14.95 give or take--not cheap eats but considering deserts are included not a bad deal at all. The salad was ordinary, the homemade vegetable soup was OK I guess, for my taste it was a somewhat odd mix heavy on chunks of tomato. Dinner was smoked pork loin for me, grilled chicken breast for my wife; not daring choices but both tasty and well prepared. The pork loin was moist and tender with a nice flavor of smoke and apples, the chicken grilled and seasoned fine. Mashed potatoes and (on request) brown gravy were served and were good, the corn was from a can and the mac and cheese were probably better than average. Dinner rolls were excellent, again with real butter and apple butter if desired. The dessert was included, we had a peach cobbler that was good, apple cobbler was also available, as was butterscotch merangue pie and chocolate cake that looked good. All in all the Applewood was a fine dinner; comfort food and comfort atmosphere and I liked it more than I expected I would--we may go back for breakast and try again. See you all then, Todd

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 9:04 AM
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Todd,
Keep up the great write-ups, you're doing fine. We look forward to your review at the Beacon. It is an amazing place.

improviser
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 9:23 AM
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Al,

Do you think Moonlite or Claudia Sanders will be open Wednesday? My sis and I are driving up to Louisville for Turkey Day and I'd love to check either of these places out.

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 10:00 AM
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Thanks again for the encouragement Al, we are routing ourself through Louisville Friday and hope we can try one of those two as well. I am also looking forward to the Beacon and the Moose Cafe in Asheville, just hope we can get in on Friday AM. Back tonight with another report, Todd

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 10:28 AM
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I just spoke to the folks at Claudia Sanders (10:25am) they will be open for regular business hours on both Wednesday and Friday. (11am to 9pm). The regular weekday menu will be in effect.

Moonlite BBQ will also be open regular hours on both days.


improviser
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 1:15 PM
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Thanks, Mr. Mayor, I appreciate the phone call you made. I hope we can make it one of those places Wednesday.

Art Deco
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 4:06 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by toddfleet

SATURDAY BREAKFAST at Loveless Cafe in Nashville TN
We had heard much about this Roadfood legend, including a few mixed reviews here and there. Some rave, some say it had slipped since changing hands and expanding. <snip> We were taken to our seat and immediately found a big bowl of butter pats in the little foil packs, a positive sign to me that these famous biscuits were not to be devalued by the management saving a few pennies on a flavorless corn oil margarine (this is always a big deal to me--can anyone else agree?)


You see, it's a matter of perspective. Prior to their makeover by Tom Morales and his folks, what you got on the table was a saucer with a large rectangle of butter that you cut your own pieces from. I look at the little pre-portioned pats of butter as a step down from what was there before and a step away from the informal idiosyncracies that I thought made the place feel like home.

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 4:45 PM
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Improvisor, Temporary Post-
When you have a moment email me with a valid email address. I tried to send you a note today and it was kicked back. Ur Roadfood email apparently isn't working.
AL

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 8:43 PM
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NOTE TO POGOPHILES regarding the butter. I am so often handed the plastic container of Country Crock or an even worse generic brand of margarine that I am just happy with any good grade of butter. When I get the cheap stuff so they could save a little money and effort I see a red flag that the establishment really does not care about quality. A gross generalization to be sure, but it is usually a good barometer for me. I am pleased that I am not the only one who notices these things though.

MONDAY BREAKFAST at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg TN. We had gone to a few of the many pancake houses in town and had found spotty quality, but this one was referenced as a favorite by many. When we arrived about 10:45 AM and found a line outside I was surprised, as eating at off hours is usually good for us avoiding such delays, but this place can really move 'em in and out and I was seated and drinking coffee promptly. The veteran staff of uniformed waitresses were pleasant and efficent, and even though the place was very crowded service was fast. We had eggs and sausage and eggs scrambled with ham, they were fine, and the pancakes were very good. The regular buttermilk cakes were good and the buckwheat pancakes were too, a little more coarse grained as you would expect, with whipped margerine and a nice warm, sweet, thin syrup. The hash browns were a surprise, not the normal grating but a sort of wide cut, almost like a very thin, flat noodle, not too crispy but with a very good potato flavor. The menu was laid out much like the Original Pancake House which is a favorite of mine, and like them the prices were just a little higher than normal but justified by being a cut above on quality.

MONDAY DINNER Takeout Pizza from the Smoky Mountain (micro)Brewery, Gatlinburg. Is pizza Roadfood? Maybe, maybe not, but we think it is relevant and will report. We got this recommendation from a local and found it quite good. The crust is thin, very thin, but with the right chewyness and a nice buttery edge. It was not overcooked, burned or hard. Cheese was good, mushroom and pepperoni toppings were too, and there was the right amount of sauce--not too much and not overpowering in flavor at all. If you like an east coast sort of pizza with a big floppy, foldable slice and mild sauce this is it, and just a very little bit greasy, but only a little. See you all tomorrow, Todd

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/20/06 9:17 PM
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Keep'em coming, Todd.

Pwingsx
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 12:45 AM
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This is lovely, Todd, still a little hard to read as your paragraphs are very long, but the descriptions are mouth-watering.

Please continue.

SassyGritsAL
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 11:59 AM
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Great job Todd, I've only eaten at the Apple Barn once, but I still remember it as being good. I'm looking forward to eating at the Loveless when I attend the roadfood tour in Spring.

Keep up the good work. How about some pictures too?

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 12:24 PM
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We tried to get into the Apple Barn on the last trip thru that area. It was packed with tour buses with an endless wait, so we moved on down the street to Bennett's BBQ (see Todd's review above) a Double disappointment...missing the Apple Barn and eating 'less than good' BBQ.

ctfrasier
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 12:29 PM
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This is roadfood reporting at its best Todd. I might be one of the Loveless critics you mentioned. I have criticized their chicken which isn't bad but not my favorite. But your description of their breakfast is right-on. Those biscuits are wonderful. Also, I heard on the local news last night that they are now selling the mix in the shops. I was just telling my girlfriend last night that I wish our regional manager would come to one of our meetings soon because we get breakfast from the Loveless when he attends.

Hillbilly
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 4:17 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by toddfleet


SATURDAY BREAKFAST at Loveless Cafe in Nashville TN
With these biscuits being so good I moved on to the tougher test--sausage gravy--a dish which is endlessly disappointing to me. This was no disappointment, obviously homemade, seasoned to my taste, the only improvement could have been larger chunks of sausage, which is just my own midwestern preference. The verdict? B&G as good as I have had anywhere, and that from a tough critic.

I'll have to try the sausage gravy the next time I'm through Nashville. I,like you, prefer a lot of sausage in my sausage gravy. I usually assure this by getting a side order of sausage, chop it up and add it to the gravy.

I'm a big fan of breakfast at Loveless.

I'm anxious to see your report of the Beacon and Moose Cafe. These are 2 more of my favorites.

If you are in Asheville long enough, I encourage you to try the "Red Rocker Inn" in Black Mountain. Their food is outstanding, and they are rated as one of the best B&Bs in the nation.

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 4:37 PM
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Hillbilly

I am glad I am not the only one to 'add' sausage to the B&G at some places. I'll hide this reference in the middle of the post, but I do that a lot at DQ or Hardee's...get a couple of the 'cheap' biscuit w/sausage (2 for less than a buck) then add the sausage pieces to an order of B & G. A little hard to eat while driving, but not a bad breakfast for less than $3.00.

BarbaraCt
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 5:43 PM
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This is roadfood at its best. I haven't been to Pigeon Forge in a while, but you are bringing me right back. I can even remember when Bennetts was good. And, unfortunately, we have been there later when the quality fell. I can second Dillard's, though. It can't be beat. Happy Thanksgiving, and drive carefully.

Big Sausage
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 7:05 PM
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Thanks for the report, we hope to visit Tennessee in the near future and you have given us a good frame of reference
Thank You.

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Tue, 11/21/06 11:31 PM
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Hello everybody, thanks again for the encouragement, we will post todays (Tues) reviews in the morning, see you then, Todd

BigGlenn
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Wed, 11/22/06 12:22 AM
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Dang........... No Pictures?

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Wed, 11/22/06 10:40 AM
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TUESDAY BREAKFAST Old Mill Restaurant, Pigeon Forge TN. Like the Applewood, the Old Mill is a very popular Pigeon Forge institution, a complex of gift shops and restaurant with the theme of being located in the large historic mill, on the river with wheel, waterfall and all. The food theme is of course down home cooking with a specialty of pecan pies, which we unfortunately did not order for breakfast.

The restaurant is huge and so are the breakfasts. When seated I saw the dreaded Country Crock Spread and no real butter anywhere. A bad sign and a disgrace for anyplace promoting baked goods and home cooking (as we had been here before I planned ahead and brought my own personal butter). When seated you get a bowl of little spice muffins, each about 1 1/4 inch in diameter and excellent, a highlight. As you sample them you note the breakfasts are quite the value--starting at $4.99 you get unlimited muffins, biscuits, gravy, grits, AND coffee or tea included. For another $1 you get eggs, for another $2 bacon or sausage, another $1 gets pancakes too.

The food was served extra fast, with barely even time to open the newspaper. The biscuits looked homemade and were fine, the gravy? Well...... no sausage and a processed, out-of-the-can taste. To be kind, not a bad flavor once I mixed in some sausage, but not what you would expect for a home cooking place IMO. All I can say is if you like Cracker Barrel or Hardees gravy this will be fine, if not then??? (NOTE unlike some I like the Cracker Barrel a lot, just NOT their gravy) Grits were yellow cornmeal and good flavor, but as we were late in the morning they had a bit of "skin" and lumps from sitting around.

The eggs were OK, the sausage good and the bacon I thought very good. The pancakes were small and thick, with good syrup but not a highlight. An enjoyable country breakfast in a pleasant setting and worth a stop but could be better with just a few details of improvement.

TUESDAY DINNER The Chop House, Seiverville TN. This is a KY/TN chain of 10 restaurants, and is probably a little "corporate" for some readers. But for us after a day of traffic and crowds the atmosphere was just fine, a quiet, carpet-and-dark-wood-panel, "clubby" feel that I liked. Prices were within a dollar or two of other steak chains.

You start with bread and a honey/whipped margarine mix like the other steak chains. Soup is claimed to be made from scratch and is a highlight. I was here a few years ago and got a shrimp bisque that was over the top outstanding, and this time was an excellent chicken gumbo with okra, andouelle sausage and all, second only to what you would find in N'awlins itself. My wife had the standard salad and said it was definitely above average, with two cheeses, real bacon, chopped cucumbers (on the side to mix in yourself) and ranch dressing that could be homemade. Very nice.

The steaks came and they were prepared PERFECTLY as ordered, a pleasant treat. We ordered a rib eye and a small filet, both were excellent cuts, and at first we found the flavor very subtle and mild, almost a bit lacking. I then realized our perceived lack of flavor was actually lack of heavy salt as used by other steakhouses, also a nice change in the end. The ribeye was very good, but the (medium well) filet OK but not great. We wanted french fries and they were average or just slightly better, but also not highly salted or seasoned. The house specialty is a baked sweet potato that was very popular, or giant battered onion rings. Service was atttentive too, we would say this place is good for a couple or small group wanting a nice steak dinner in a quiet setting.

Thanks again everyone for the kind words for our reviews, and maybe our next series will include photos, but not this time. We are off to the Carolinas tomorrow, see you all then, Todd


toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Wed, 11/22/06 10:02 PM
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WEDNESDAY LUNCH Buddys BBQ, Seiverville TN. Well, sometimes you just need a quick meal on the run. This is a local chain that was rated a local favorite in one of our books, so we tried it. For a quick fast food lunch we liked it fine, in fact we liked the BBQ better than Bennett's from Saturday. The beef was sliced thin and with a nice smoke ring, believe it or not, and the sauce was a good combination of sweet and smoke. The hush puppies had onion and celery inside, the fries were OK, and the coffee was good. A decent quick stop on the road. Their local status was in evidence by the MANY people picking up their specially reserved smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving.

WEDNESDAY DINNER Beacon Drive In, Spartanburg SC. I have much enjoyed sharing my observations with the group, and have much enjoyed your supportive comments. I am about to write a few words that may destroy my roadfood credibility with the group. Please be gentle with me BUT--

I was not impressed with the famous Beacon Drive In.

FULL DISCLOSURE to avoid service inconvenience I planned ahead to learn the menu before ordering as suggested, but we arrived as they were having a grill problem and cooking had stopped. When it resumed and our cheeseburgers were served they were cold, we had feared being served a cold one but could not bear losing our place in line and going outside to the rear--we had to trust in management not to serve us an inferior burger. But cold or no, the flavor of the burgers was, IMO, just not that great. And given the establishment's fast moving ordering system God forbid I should ask for any special assistance. (no reflection on the nice gentleman taking the orders, though, who was very pleasant to those waiting)

My wife ordered a single cheeseburger with M & M (mustard and mayo)and she said the M & M was good. I had a plain double cheese with ketchup, and it did not impress, I would have traded for a Culver's burger any day. (I was not up for the famous chili and cheese model) I did order "a-plenty " with fries and onion rings on top, and the fries were average or just a little better. I will say the onion rings were very good as onion rings go, but I am not much of an onion eater. The famous sweet tea was good, but a little sweet and lemony for my personal taste. A vanilla milkshake was too, but, again, there are other milkshakes I like better. We ordered a slice of pumpkin pie for later, and it was a generous slice and a unique flavor, but not superior in any way and no whipped cream included. Given the hype I was disappointed, my expectations were high and not fulfilled.

FULL DISCLOSURE PART 2 Mrs. Todd suggests I mention that we may be spoiled in the hamburger category by our own local 60 year old drive in hamburger/custard place, Krekel's in Decatur and Springfield IL. Either in reality or in our own preference our Krekel's has a better burger, fries, and shake in our opinion, and some enthusiastic reviewers may not be accustomed to a drive in tradition as we are.

The verdict? The experience was interesting and intense to be sure, but the food just not that great to me. Please be merciful with me in your responses, Todd


mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Thu, 11/23/06 7:20 AM
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Todd... Go sit in the corner for a day, and write, "There's no place like home!" 200 times on your IPOD!!

Sounds like you hit the place under the wrong circumstances! I have found the food OK or a bit better than OK, but the fun of the line and some great Ice Cream was what made it. So my opinion isn't far off from yours. I want to try the fried chicken next time we happen to be over that way...Then decide about how far I would drive out of my way to visit a third time.

I sure wish you had gone around the mountains to Dillard,GA. You would have selected a new home!! Oh Well, Next Time!

Vince Macek
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Thu, 11/23/06 7:58 AM
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Re. butter in individual packets: A stick of butter on the table is nice and down-home, but it would be subject to whatever was on the knife of the previous diner, right? I'd sooner take my chances at a buffet bar.

I was at a cafe in Ft. Bragg (California) that served natural food, and was pleased to see it had real butter (and real maple syrup) on some great blueberry pancakes. Salmon too - my kind of 'natural'.

ann peeples
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Thu, 11/23/06 9:02 AM
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I am so enjoying being on your trip with you,toddfleet!Great descriptiions,wonderful honesty!!I,too love bisquits and gravy,and have such a hard time finding them on the road.So I have mastered my own.My N.Carolina relatives rave about them!!(Iuse tons of sausage)But I now have hope for good B&G at the Loveless!!!We travel thru there on our way to the Carolinas a couple times a year...

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Thu, 11/23/06 6:58 PM
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Ann, you are very kind, thank you. Maybe you can help me find the right stops on my annual July trip to central WI.

To all my new Roadfood friends, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the road, hope you enjoyed the day and your feast.

THANKSGIVING DINNER Deerpark Restaurant at Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC
Maybe not strictly roadfood, but a favorite for us. A little background--for several years we have taken our vacation over Thanksgiving with the goal of a special Thanksgiving dinner. Our history is as follows:

2000 Colonial Williamsburg, Kings Arms Tavern (peanut soup and American heritage)
2001 Charleston SC, 82 Queen (She Crab Soup in a Courtyard)
2002 Maui, Hawaii, Old Lahaina Luau (special 10th anniversary trip)
2003 Savannah GA, The Pink House (overrated, but in a fascinating historic district)
2004 Asheville NC, Deerpark Restaurant at Biltmore (outstanding)
2005 Vail CO, Cascade Resort (expensive, pretentious, my misguided attempt
to live above myself at a four star resort)

So after last year we wanted to be more comfortable and try to duplicate a previous success. Some have said in other websites the restaurants at the Biltmore are bland and overpriced. I do not know about the others or their regular menus, but the Deerpark buffet is one of our all time favorite places. The setting is beautiful, especially decorated for Christmas, and they also have dinner/tour combos during the Christmas season. Apparently Thanksgiving is big at the Biltmore and it is hard to get in without reservations well in advance, but for us it was worth it.

There are separate serving tables for salad, soup, cold seafood appetizers, bread, a carving station, sides, kids selections including chicken wings and cookies, and of course dessert. At $34.95 ea it was not cheap but worth it for a special occasion. We find the quality of everything excellent (often a problem for buffets) and will keep individual descriptions brief. We also will add that the staffing is the best we have ever seen to keep the food areas fresh, clean, and restocked (also a buffet problem IMO).

We started with salad, crab claws, jumbo shrimp, and oysters on the half shell. The crab/corn chowder was excellent, and the bread table must have been 12 feet long, with at least 10 kinds of bread and rolls (and naturally, butter in the foil pack). The turkey was the juciest we have ever had (sorry Mom) and the prime rib looked great, but we did not get far enough to sample it. There was also sliced lamb, grilled salmon, ham, and a variety of sides that were all delicious.

So we came to the time to decide, another helping or save room for extra dessert? A terribly hard decision but we chose--dessert. The desserts were over the top, starting with red velvet cake (best I ever had) two kinds of chocolate tortes, a terrific pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling, and little cheesecakes. But the topper of them all was the best pumpkin pie ever--a pumpkin cream pie with a whole layer of whipped cream and a cream-infused pumpkin filling over a homemade crust. Absoultely outstanding, and the whipped cream was a homemade semi-sweet type that was the best I ever had. I wish I could have spooned some over the pecan pie also there, but we just couldn't make it. It is now almost seven hours after and I just wish we could go back for more, the only problem with dining out on Thanksgiving.

So again, Happy Thanksgiving to all and best wishes. Hope to see you tomorrow from the Moose Cafe, Todd





ann peeples
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Thu, 11/23/06 9:34 PM
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Toddfleet-be more than glad to help you find some good roadfood in Wisconsin.Where in central Wi.do you go? And if all else fails-you can come to my house for bisquits and gravy!!Just let me know your route and we will set you all up!!!

Pwingsx
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Fri, 11/24/06 12:09 AM
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Todd, that sounds like a truly scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner. I'd love to try that myself!

Very nice reviews. It'll be extremely cool when you're able to add photos. Hope you'll keep posting reviews!

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Fri, 11/24/06 8:05 AM
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Todd,
Your dinner sounds great! Congratulations on making a repeat of a good one ! Enjoy your vacation! I hope the info I sent you on photo insertion will help[. Let me know if we can assist!

Sundancer7
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Fri, 11/24/06 9:46 AM
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Todd: I took my mother to Deerpark for her 80th birthday. The food was very good and expensive. They did not have a buffet then but the menu was outstanding and their inhouse wine was very good. We stayed at the new hotel on the grounds of the Biltmore. It was also a bit pricey.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Fri, 11/24/06 7:06 PM
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Hello again Paul, thanks for reading my posts. As we said, not exactly roadfood there, but very good. We did not stay at the Biltmore, we would assume it to be too pricy and stayed in mid priced accomodations.

SO the day has arrived for us to pack up and return to Illinois. We are always a little down when our vacations draw to a close, but today I had one bright spot to look forward to, the Moose Cafe. In my post in the breakfast section, "Biscuits and Gravy in Tennessee" several people said the Moose was the place for B&G. The MrBreakfast.com website had more positives for it than the Loveless, and upon approach it looked like a perfect roadfood place, including a banner saying "Voted Best Breakfast in Western NC". I walked in brimming with anticipation, sat down and there it was:

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil Margarine.

I began to think I may have been the victim of overrated hype. We ordered and enjoyed the good coffee as I eyed the margarine with skepticism. Our food arrived quickly as follows:

EGGS OVER MEDIUM runny whites
SAUSAGE PATTIES average, hard and thin
COUNTRY HAM average, hard and thin
GRITS good
HOME FRIES from a bag, fried cubes with the color, taste and texture of Hardees Curly Fries
BISCUITS homemade, but given the margarine and gravy I did not care anymore
GRAVY from a can

One taste of the gravy and I could not believe this was supposed to be a highlight. I had requested sausage gravy and it had not been cooked with sausage. There were a few small morsels of sausage sprinkled on top, as if I had made an odd request and they were trying to appease me. It had the preservative taste also found at Cracker Barrell and Hardees. I have decided gravy WITH sausage must just not be done in the area, which explains Cracker Barrell gravy. A huge disappointment in the gravy and the homefries, and frankly nothing else was equal to what I can get at Cracker Barrell at home.

So there it is everyone, and what is to be learned? My wife says, like Dorothy in Kansas there is no place like home. A food reviewer asked about the variety of pizza nuances gave a philosophy. He said it seems we all get our first good pizza as a youth and spend the rest of our lives trying to duplicate the experience. And to this day my favorite remains my first good pizza at home, Del Carmens in Decatur IL. Biscuits and gravy must be the same, my favorite remains the central IL style of cream and flour gravy, cooked with big chunks of sausage and served covering the spilt biscuits (although the Loveless is it's equal and by far the best I have ever had on the road anywhere). Likewise, my favorite fast food hamburger remains Krekel's in Decatur, with Culver's a near equal. So I guess regional tastes remain different and sometimes you go back home in flavor. But we enjoyed the trip and will be out there another time to try again. Have enjoyed everyone's company, see you on the road, Todd







MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 9:16 AM
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Now that was one of most perfect reviews I've ever read, lacking only a picture. While I tend to agree with you about duplicating meals from our "earlier" years, I've been fortunate to find better fried chicken and pizza than I'd had in the past. Thanks and may your future roadtrips be filled with Wisconsin AA butter!

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 9:53 AM
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Thanks and yes, yes on the Wisconsin AA butter. If I go to Wisconsin and the cafe does not have butter I KNOW this is a place that does not care about quality (and possibly their own clientele). I should say being from Decatur IL I am probably under surveliance for disloyalty to our own Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) who have probably done more with corn and soybean oil in the American diet than any other firm. Hello boys, no offense intended, I am sure I will still eat some trans fat somewhere else. Todd

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 9:56 AM
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Yep, This was a very good trip report. Todd, Thank you for taking the time to report in excellent detail on what you discovered on your visits to all those places. If you follow the Stern's write-ups you will hear Michael say (frequently) that they hit a lot of "less than good" places for every great one they review. And I must say that my personal tastes often run counter to what many on the site think are outstanding locations.
"Ya Call'em as ya See'em". sez Yogi, or some other great philosopher, and you did. Thanks again. I hope you will include a Dillard Stop next time you head that directions.

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 10:06 AM
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Thanks Al. We were through Shelbyville and Louisville at an off time and could not go to Claudia Sanders as I wished. However, I am planning to be in Louisville for a conference next summer, hopefully I can ask you for advice. I have heard raves and gripes about Lynns Paradise Cafe and I have been really wanting to try a Hot Brown, a sandwich concept somewhat like our own Horseshoe I have been eating all my life (see the Troy IL post in this forum). My wife has also said she will help try some pictures next time. Todd

PS--note to all, some horseshoe reviews and photos may be in the near future, the word needs to get out on this dish.

mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 2:02 PM
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At the risk of receiving the wrath of the Kentuciana folks, Hot Browns are Interesting, and in some cases "good", but offer me a Bacon ButterBurger or Pork Tenderloin and I'll go that way most of the time! They sure look good though!! Here's a photo that TJ posted a year or so ago...Taken at the Brown Hotel in Louisville...The original source for the"HOT BROWN"![/b]


Let us know when you are heading this way and we will be sure to save some time out to do a "Meet and Greet" evening!

MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sat, 11/25/06 3:03 PM
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We had our first horseshoe ever at the Route 66 historic Ariston Cafe. Unreal and most certainly worthy of a thread and some pics.
Here's one from http://www.studyworld.com/cgi-bin/apexec.pl?etype=odp&passurl=/Home/Cooking/Sandwiches/&frameurl=http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/SandwichHistory.htm


mayor al
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/26/06 8:46 AM
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That's a nice write-up and photo of the Horseshoe sandwich in todays (11/26) restaurant review from "D'Arcy's" in Springfield,IL.
In both photo's, the one just above this post and the one from the D'Arcy's review the fries sure look underdone to me. Is that because of the cheese sauce? While the recipes sound alike, the appearance of the Horseshoe and the Hot Brown make them more distant cousins than I had imagined.

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/26/06 10:40 AM
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Wow, talk about timing, just as we were mentioning horseshoes! Some fine points, you will see the Litchfield horseshoe above has regular fries and the D'Arcys version has crinkle fries, which the better Springfield horseshoes use. And no, they are not to be undercooked, they just look that way in the photo, they should be prepared like any other fries and in fact crisp is good so they stand up to the cheese sauce (and the crinkle fries are better, IMO).

The D'Arcys buffalo chicken horseshoe pictures was a big advance in horseshoes and I have not yet had one but will soon, as I stated recently the traditional meats are ham, hamburger, or turkey and anything else is a new variation. However, this is one thing that makes the horseshoe interesting, as there can be lots of new versions, different meats, and especially differences between cheese sauces, as review Jim says. Even the fries can be tweaked, a local steakhouse used to use wide steak fries and another offers waffle cut if desired.

The cheese sauce is what makes Springfield the HQ of horseshoes. The Litchfield version, and other outlying versions, feature the horseshoe as just another dish on the menu so the sauce is often from a can and not specially prepared like in a horseshoe focused restaurant. The best Springfield cheese sauces are welsh rarebit style with beer, worchestershire, or other custom made variants, just as Jim wrote, his history and description is very good.

To Al, yes, related to the Hot Brown they are prepared differently but you can see in the horseshoe story that the origins are similar. The horseshoe is not baked in the oven, so it could be less labor intensive, I still want to compare one day. I am sure we see each other on the site here and maybe meet and greet when we come down, thanks Todd

ChiTownDiner
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Sun, 11/26/06 8:23 PM
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Nice job - Todd I look forward to a "horseshoe trip" south of Chicago. You descriptions were great.

soozycue520
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 12:49 AM
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Todd,

I have to say, first of all, I loved your report of your Thanksgiving trip. I look forward to everyone's Roodfood trips. And yours was excellent.

I was surprised that you told a tale of a Horseshoe, and I saw it featured on this site around the same time. I had never heard of the Horseshoe, before.

I didn't look at the photo as "undercooked french fries", but read the description of a sandwich. A sandwich with thick bread, almost any kind of meat I would want, some french fries, and cheese sauce. A white cheese sauce, made with more than you can see in a picture.

I have never had a Horseshoe, but I can spend a lot of time trying to explain Cincinnati Chili. Unless you have experienced it, at its best, you have not experienced it. No picture will ever do it justice.

Please don't give me ****e because I compared a Horseshoe to Cincy Chili. I am just making a point about regional food. I grew up with Cincy chili, therefore, I like it.

I am all about what I grew up with. An "acquired" taste, yes, maybe. I think everyone tends to like what they grew up with.

I still have an open mind about food. I will try most things, at least once.

Since seeing Fear Factor , I realize I will not eat anything. But, I will try a Horseshoe when I am in Springfield, Illinois.

{P.S. I am a Cincinnatian, and I still don't like Goetta!}

Nancypalooza
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 10:01 AM
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Todd I didn't post beforehand because I wanted to see what you thought, but your assessment of the Beacon's food is not that far off from mine. I have had good experiences with the cheeseburgers--I'm surprised as well that they served them cold--but I really don't like their fries, onion rings or tea that much. The tea in particular always baffles me because (sorry) it's Nestea, and around here we really don't cotton to Nestea. We like brewed tea.

I take people to 'experience' the Beacon if we're traveling through, JC's performance in particular, but I'm not really that up on the food. If you're in the Upstate, you should check out Charlie's Steakhouse in Greenville--now their food is worth a trip.

Although I've had Culver's butterburgers and I don't really get the appeal of those either. They kind of left me with a stomachache. If I were doing an informal rank of those two with an In-N-Out double-double, I'd put the In-N-Out first, Beacon second and Culver's third.

And I forgot to add: best sausage and gravy I've ever had, I've had in Indiana. Must be the midwestern proximity to the pig.

toddfleet
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 11:27 AM
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Hello Nancypalooza, WHEW am I glad for your support, I am still expecting irate Beacon fans to emerge. I tried to mention the conditions of our visit so I was not unfairly critical and obviously we were there during a problem, but I was still disappointed given the hype. I guess hamburger tastes do vary though on the Butterburgers ALTHOUGH A HINT is that a single butterburger is not especially superior for some reason, the double is the one that is really juicy and flavorful. And that is an odd quirk, but that is what I have noticed, maybe more burger than bun or something changes the experience. I still need to get an In & Out burger as they seem to have a real following and I have never tried one. BTW, I really like sweet tea and the Beacon was different and OK, but the really sweet and lemon was too much for me.

Regarding the gravy, I grew up in Illinois and B & G was always popular, cream gravy with sausage. Southerners always talk about gravy and when we began visiting Tennessee and further south I expected great things and was immensely disappointed, especially with this no sausage thing. For example, Cracker Barrel represents southern country cooking up here and I like them a lot BUT their gravy is not good, no sausage and a funny preservative taste. I assumed that to be a cold, corporate dictate to send gravy in a can and no one would know any better. But the local favorites we reviewed like the Moose Cafe and the Old Mill have gravy EXACTLY like the Cracker Barrel, who knew I would find them to be exporting the best of east TN and western NC? How disappointing. Any gravy tips from SC? Thanks, Todd

PS to soozycue520, which chili should I get? If you get near Springfield try Ritz' Little Fryer for your horseshoe, they have two locations, one 1/2 mile from the new Abraham Lincoln Museum.




Nancypalooza
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 2:50 PM
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Well, what I like about the cheeseburgers at the Beacon is that apparently they're using Velveeta or some other pretty high-fat American, so to me they taste kinda creamy, which is nice with the big slab of raw onion, which I like but I understand a lot of folks don't. In Columbia the best burgers (takeout) are at Rush's and Zesto's. I've heard about this place in Murrells Inlet that serves ground sirloin burgers that are supposed to be the bomb, but haven't tried there yet.

I don't think you're gonna get ridden out of town on a rail for saying you don't like the Beacon, but maybe I'll get ridden out with you.

You know, if I'm really missing sausage gravy, I just make it. We have good local sausage--I use Neese's--just brown, don't drain, add whole milk, let it warm, and whisk in flour paste until it's to your consistency. Lots of black pepper. I just think it's funny that every time I try it in Indiana (I go to visit my son at college) at a number of different places, it's great.

TJ Jackson
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 3:04 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by soozycue520
Please don't give me ****e

<snip snip>

I am a Cincinnatian, and I still don't like Goetta!}

You heathern :-)

soozycue520
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 9:04 PM
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Todd~

When in Cincinnati, go to Camp Washington Chili. I, personally think it's the best! Thanks for your suggestion, and if I'm ever in Springfield, I will try it.

TJ~

I guess I just never acquired the taste for goetta.

MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Illinois to South Carolina Roadfood Trip Report - Mon, 11/27/06 10:53 PM
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My Cincinnati sister-in-law makes some highly aclaimed goetta. If I ever taste haggis, I suspect I'll say, "Why it tastes just like goetta."

I do like the local chili though.

Beautiful downtown too

Convenient to Jungle Jim's and the great party stores across the river.

I do like the area too.

Still friends?