My faithful readers will recall that while I don’t necessarily have an aversion to eating at chain restaurants, I do prefer to frequent the independent restaurateurs. This is especially true when we are traveling.
This does, however, create its own set of problems. Will the quaint diner in the small town on route to our destination deliver an inspired meal or will we be ordering a side of gastric indigestion? Are we walking into a cheerful restaurant filled with delightful and friendly characters or a grease pit populated with angry naked mimes ? In short, just choosing a diner at random is a form of culinary roulette. Sadly, this dilemma is exactly why the ubiquitous fast food chains are so very successful. Like it or not, they promise consistency in the food, even if that means that the food is not going to be all that good or memorable. An interesting tidbit of information is that Duncan Hines of cake mix fame first made a name for himself by writing a book that recommended good places to eat for the wary traveler. Duncan Hines was a salesman who was apparently tired of stumbling into greasy spoon diners and began to take notes of the good places on the road to eat. Some time later he got the idea that others would appreciate his list and published the book Adventures in Good Eating.*
*The Foodie daughter requested that I expand upon the section about Duncan Hines.
Today we have the Internet and can research places to eat along the way and once we reach our destination. Restaurant reviews can help to guide the traveler to the best places to eat in a given location. Yes, this is a bit of work, but the results can be outstanding.
Case in point: my husband and I were traveling to Lexington, Kentucky for the annual Indiana Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation. While we could have made the three hour trip without stopping, I knew that this was finally the chance to try out a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky that I had first heard about on the Food Network show Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Bobby Flay had shown up to challenge Lynn’s Paradise Café owner Lynn Winter to a breakfast throwdown. Happily, Lynn rose to the challenge and won handily.
Owner Lynn misses no opportunity to interject fun and color in and on the building.
Even the parking lot is decorated.
The entire front section of the building was dedicated to selling merchandise, most of it as quirky and eclectic as the restaurant looked to be. Everything from wacky hats to toys to gag gifts filled the area.
On second thought, we really should have only ordered one dish for the both of us. Each serving could have fed a small village. Oh my, no wonder this dish sent Bobby Flay packing back to New York City. This is heaven on a plate.
After eating all that we could, and believe me, we both tried, we paid our bill and left. We later realized that we had left a bit of ourselves behind as my husband left his IU ball cap at the restaurant.
Sadly, though I looked, I didn’t catch sight of the elusive owner while we were there. I was really hoping to meet this interesting woman. Perhaps we will return one day and try the other dish that beat an Iron Chef’s best dish.