Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dinner in Another Dimension

Having promised Aunt Beth dinner out all summer, we impulsively scheduled a last minute date for last night and suggested the Dam Site Inn, a place that to me has always been like visiting the dining room of a very nice retirement home. But I have been craving fried chicken all summer and they do do it right - that, and they seem amazingly successful at identifying their niche, which would be catering to the over 60...maybe 70...maybe over 80 crowd. Aunt Beth is about to be 88 next week so she was enthused. Really, I'm sentimental about the place as it was where my Hubbie announced to about 10 members of his family that at 62, he was finally engaged. I remember the cloud of total silence that enveloped our table as we waited for congratulations or at least some ribbing. After a minute or two passed without any sort of reaction from anybody, Uncle Ernie - at the time probably about 80 himself - leaned towards a nearby waitress and said "Could I have another cup of coffee?" and dinner went forward as though nothing at all had been said. How could I not be fond of the place?

It's about a 20 minute drive over the back roads to semi-rural Michigan to get there. The autumn color was nice, the air crisp and the fancy carved pumpkin display in the foyer was cute. The table clothes are linen, and the view of the pond and adjacent farm fields is serene. It's really a kinda comforting destination and what's not to like about a place that makes you feel young? After a slow promenade across the main dining room (they were very good about accomodating Beth who travels with a cane), winding our way between full tables of families with their elders and oddly out of time and place, two young women in prom dresses, we were seated at the windows on the pink porch.

Beth and I ordered the (what else?) family dinner with fried chicken and Bob had to have his annual portion of fried frog legs - which I think he has more on principle than affinity. Nothing has changed on this menu since I first went there and I was especially relived to see the retro relish tray. It makes me think of the kind of thing my Mom would put out on Christmas Eve to keep up happy nibbling while dinner cooked: green onions sticking out of the stainless steel revolving serving tray, a circle of little containers with little forks for pickled beets, cranberry relish, olives, corn relish (ala Neiman Marcus'), ++. And when dinner came it was tough to be hungry enough to do justice to the perfect fried chicken, the very chunky egg noodles in chicken gravy, the mint peas, the mashed potatoes...biscuits and honey and did I say gravy? The chicken is actually quite good, a light crust, not greasy. Ugggghhh, sorry to say we ate nearly all of it and Beth took home the only two leftover pieces of chicken.

That should hold me for a while. I'm going on a fast.

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