Update on Hollyhock Hill (Indianapolis) and Gray Bros. (Mooresville) in Indiana
This past weekend I ate at Gray Bros (Friday) and MCL (a chain) and Hollyhock Hill (Saturday).
I went to Gray Bros. about 2 p.m. on Friday, straight from the airport. I had fried chicken (white meat), green beans with potatoes, a portion of "five cup" salad, and cherry pie, with iced tea. The 5 cup salad used to be one of my very favorites at the old Laughners cafeteria (now out of business). This 5 cup salad tasted OK, but they add nuts (which I don't care for) to the mandarin oranges, pineapple and coconut, and consistency was very dense and gummy. The fried chicken was delicious -- much better than I recall from previous visits. They serve it in quarters; I prefer my chicken disjointed. But this was very tasty (high quality chicken used, I think). But if you want spicy or "hot" chicken, that's not what this is. I prefer my green beans without small redskin potatoes, but the beans themselves were very good -- nicely seasoned and properly cooked "done." The cherry pie was excellent -- not a huge piece, but what was there, was good -- nice, slightly sour cherries and a flaky crust. Good iced tea, and one of the staff in the dining area brought me a fresh glass when I'd only finished about 1/3 of my initial one.
Saturday I went to the MCL on West 86th Street just as they opened for a late breakfast-type lunch. I had "light" meat fried chicken (breast and wing), green beans, and cherry pie, with a regular Pepsi. (They serve Lipton tea for their iced tea and I don't like Lipton tea.) The chicken was OK, though the breast was rather tough. Again, salt and pepper seemed to be the only seasoning, but that's fine with me. The green beans were properly slow-cooked and had some pork in them. The cherry pie was better than "acceptable,"
but not nearly as good as Gray Bros. The Pepsi was perfectly blended -- just the right mix of syrup and carbonated water.
Later on I went to Hollyhock Hill to meet a friend for lunch (yes, two lunches in one day). Hollyhock Hill is open for lunch on Sundays, but Tuesday to Saturday they only serve lunch to smaller parties on the days they are hosting private parties (showers and so forth). We were seated in the back dining room, which is my favorite as it looks out on the garden. We opted for the "plated lunch" (we usually have the full "dinner"), which is smaller and less expensive than the full dinner. We were served pickled beets and lettuce with the signature sweet and sour dressing "family style." Lunch was on individual plates containing two pieces of chicken (apparently "cook's choice" -- next time I'll ask if you can choose your pieces) and vegetables. I got a leg and a wishbone (which is my favorite piece) and my companion a wishbone and a breast. Also on the plate was a serving of mashed potatoes and a serving of green beans. Gravy came in a separate bowl, and we also were served a basket (3) of biscuits.
The luncheon doesn't include tomato juice, cottage cheese, relish tray, or corn.
The pickled beets and lettuce salad were the same as ever, and very good. The chicken was also delicious -- I really love HH's chicken, which I think is fried in lard. The mashed potatoes were what they've been serving for years -- I suspect instant -- but they were fine for what they were, as was the gravy. The green beans were a weird hybrid -- sort of like steamed, but with some seasoning. But they were chewy and that distinctive bright green and nowhere near as good as they used to be, at least to my taste. The biscuits were very disappointing. They used to be homemade, but now they appear to be out of a vacuum can. And they weren't very hot.
Dessert was the usual vanilla ice cream with three sauces. The ice cream portion seemed smaller than I remembered it, but maybe that was because it was lunchtime. The quality was fine.
Attentive, but not intrusive, service, and they didn't seem to mind that we lingered, even though they were getting ready for a wedding reception in the front dining room.
Synopsis: Gray Bros. impressed me with their chicken, pie and iced tea. MCL was OK, but I wouldn't rush to go back unless for some reason I couldn't make it to Gray Bros. or Hollyhock Hill. Hollyhock Hill appears to be cutting a few corners (again, I don't mean the quantity, because I didn't expect to have as much food at lunch as at dinner), at least as far as the green beans and bread are concerned. (I'd still go back for the fabulous chicken, but I was disappointed with the green beans and bread.)
In short, claracamille, I agree with your HH assessment. Did they ever respond to your message?
<message edited by rumaki on Tue, 04/19/11 2:34 PM>