Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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Richmond Square Mall
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
February 21, 2009 11:01 PM
We don't have cafeterias where we live (at least none that we'd want to eat in), so we're always impressed when traveling in a cafeteria-rich region with the bounty of home-style cooking available with the same ease, and minimal expense, of visiting a fast-food chain back home. We normally avoid chain restaurants on our travels, but one cafeteria chain we enjoy when passing through Indiana is MCL. Born in Indianapolis in 1950, MCL now numbers 18 primarily-Indiana restaurants.
MCL attracts a generally older clientele, reflecting both the reasonable prices and a cooking style that pre-dates the rootsless and restless current fashion for mix-and-match innovation. As you pass through the cafeteria line, the serving ladies are friendly, chatty, and encouraging, as is the woman who roams the dining room refilling iced tea glasses. There are plenty of homey vegetables and Jell-O salads, pies and puddings and cakes galore, hot fresh rolls, and some excellent fried chicken and catfish that does not sog out on the steam table. There is also a large roast turkey on display for fresh-carved dinners with the works. Everything we've tried has been good (save for a lemon pie that tasted like a lemon lollipop) and wholesome, without the mass-produced aromas and flavors typical of chain dining.
For a quick and homey meal on the road, MCL fills the bill nicely.
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