December 18th, 2009
Not Really New
The “same-old, same-old” on the menu & in the flavor. ..NOT GOOD!
I live in Mansfield, Ohio - a very well-known city due to its infamousy for dirty politics, crime-infested legalities and lynch-mob police tactics as depicted in “Rotten to the Core” by Martin Yant – a book I’ve just finished reading – that was published several years ago on this city’s mark in history. While the town itself has many beautiful landmarks (Kingwood Center, Malibar Farms, Raemelton Therapeutic Riding Facility plus others), good-hearted people and a meeting place on Park Avenue West that is wonderful for those who love the Lord and seek His face, what it offers in flora, fauna and friendship it seriously lacks in culinary cuisines. This is my opinion, to which I’m entitled and allowed by law to speak, print and/or publicize ,so far as the Constitution goes (just thought I’d get my ‘disclaimer’ out of the way).
This morning, preparing for a busy and long day in-office without a break in sight, I opted to try a new diner on Park Avenue West named the “Tribute Diner” – the replacement of the former “Lucy’s Diner” . While I’d tried “Lucy’s” once – and never went back for obvious reasons (canned sausage gravy, watered down orange juice, bitter-tasting coffee – again, just my opinion) I decided that this “new diner” was worth a shot. I was wrong.
Allbeit the waitress there was friendly and nice, there were a mere 3-4 cars in the parking lot – something that I’d noticed with “Lucy’s”, as well. But since it was almost 10 am and the breakfast “rush” was probably over, I hopped in to get a to-go order – - – tastebuds set for some biscuits and gravy, of course!
My first question after I smiled a “good morning” was “Is your sausage gravy homemade?” Her answer was “No, but you can sample it if you like”. That was a definite improvement, because when I’d ordered biscuits and gravy at the previous diner, I was presented with a plate of flat, dried-out biscuits covered in what appeared to be regurgitated cat food that, as I closed my eyes and took a snicky like, tasted as such, too.
Brought a little sample cup of gravy (about 1 tablespoon full), I tried to forget the diner episode eighteen months earlier (shortly before said diner went out of business) and took a taste. Yep. Canned sausage gravey, UN-deluxe. I smiled a “no thank-you” and chose French Toast with an order of bacon for my to-go for the day. By the way…2 slices of bacon does NOT a side order make. But that’s for another time. When my order was ready, I asked the waitress if she’d like a little suggestion on getting more butts in the seats on a more continual basis, and she said “Sure!”
My hint was: “Wow ‘em with homemade sausage gravy”, to which she replied “A lot of people just love this gravy the way it is and have asked us not to change a thing!” Although she smiled at me, I could tell she wasn’t very happy. While it’s true you can’t please all of the people all of the time (Captain Penny’s good, ‘ol saying for those of you baby boomers who can remember him from T.V.), I believe you could please MOST of the people MOST of the time with a menu that truly offered home cooking…like apple pie actually MADE on-site and served warm with some hand-churned vanilla ice cream … biscuits and/or homemade bread in little baskets that begged you to eat more … and yes, definitely homemade sausage gravy!
Some would say this little diner would be too small for such grandiose thinking; too many butts begging for seats wouldn’t be cool. I say “think Waffle House, folks”! Their interior space is quite small – all of them are about the same sq. footage in size – and on Saturday and Sunday mornings you’ll wait in line to be seated. WHY????? Because the food is hot, fresh, extremely tasty and prepared right in front of you when ordered (a real plus for those who fear testy cooks and/or grumpy waitresses spitting in their food). Now I can’t prove it, but I’m willing to guess by the chewy, dried out taste that my French toast was waiting for me before I ever sauntered in the door.
Do I go to a Waffle House and get homemade sausage gravy? No; their specialty is waffles – DUH. But their other menu offerings are fabulous, as well: pork chops, steaks, Burt’s chili, and of course those hashbrowns scattered, double smothered, chunked, topped and on and on you go. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.
Look alive, Mansfield, Ohio! Try a little creative ingenuity, imagination and old-fashioned home-cooked goodness, why don’t ya? I’m certain there are more tastebuds than mine in town that aren’t so dead that they’d prefer REAL sausage gravy to the canned, cat food style.
**By the way…the closest Waffle House to Mansfield, Ohio is one down I 71 south towards Columbus or off I 77 N. on Whipple Ave. in North Canton..**
And yes…I’m still waiting for sausage gravy that’s NOT Bob Evan’s . Surely we can do better in Mansfield than this, can’t we???
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