Friday Frivolity: Dining Out

One of our joys during travel is dining at ‘local’ restaurants.  We can eat at most large, national, chains without leaving Lansing.  Well, all except maybe Waffle House.  That chain has not invaded the Michigan border yet.

We did eat at a Waffle House once.  It validated the difficulty of identifying the quality of the dining experience before entering the establishment. There may be ratings available on the net, but not along the road.  Once we stopped at what was billboard proclaimed as “World’s Largest Selection of Pies”.

I must admit,  I was concerned for the credibility of such a claim in that particular location. We didn’t pass anything but a small burg within 10 miles.  A highly populace area would seem to be more capable of supporting enough sales to a warrant world class, enormous selection.  Lack of dining pressure would seem to generate the “world’s largest” choice of stale pies rather than delectable, fresh baked, pastries would.

This place was out along the essentially uninhabited, rocky shore of western Lake Superior.  There wasn’t a lot of classy places out there to choose from, so we opted to stop.  Despite being a bit leery, but my stomach was groaning louder than my logic. My trepidation increased significantly as we entered.  A sign on the door advised us the restroom facilities were NOT inside the restaurant.

Now, I gotta tell ya, my mind could not comprehend a high degree of quality from a dining establishment that had outhouses. In the end, though, the food was excellent and the pies scrumptious.  Note the plural of pie.

So, I’d say location and outhouses do not always give a clue as to the excellence of dinner.  Restaurant names are not much of a clue either.  A particularly noteworthy case: Granny Gruder’s (observable as a gravel parking lot truck stop) was a much nicer experience than the Royal Buffet (observable as grandiose, regal dining room).  Turned out that Granny cooked better than an imperial chef.

Signs in windows, despite alluring verbiage, can be misleading.   I distinctly recall by-passing “Largest Menu in the Area”. It was posted on a rather dilapidated building.  No doubt sign was accurate. The nearest restaurant was some 50 miles away.  Conversely, once we had a great lunch in a antiquated building which had a hand painted, broken in half, misspelled sign.

Sometimes we just cannot avoid eating at chains.  There are locales which don’t support locally owned, eating establishments.  Even then, we seek out chains that we don’t have at home.

Unfortunately, we are not always familiar regional chains.  When my hunger panged incessantly for satisfaction as we passed multiple, golden arch type, gut bomb factories, than could not help but notice a glitzy, neon flashing, “Krystal” looming on the horizon.

Now, many of you may be familiar with that name, but we had never experience it before.  I thought about all the good Yooper* diners that substitute K for C and figured it was worth a try.  However, upon entering this obviously “fast food” restaurant, the headliner of the menu  …5 for 6 bucks …with fries… it became Krystal Klear, we were in for a memorable dining experience.  Memorable is not always synonymous with good.

*for strangers to Michigan, that is a kind reference to the Upper Peninsula.  Oh, and K’s for C’s is not intended as disparaging of their phonetic choices.