Brigham City, Utah
Don and I had to go a little off our road trip route, to find this restaurant. I spotted the large, twirling sign first. Then I saw their other sign, with a little bowtie-wearing dude, running with a tray of root beer mugs!
Maddox Ranch House
It was our silly cookbook that guided us towards the Maddox Ranch House... as it was called in our 1962 book. I was sad that the restaurant no longer had an exposed chimney or logg-y exterior.
A Dining Oasis
The rambling structure didn't look much like the image in our vintage Ford Motor Cookbook. But it still looked like a welcoming dining spot, along the highway, with the mountains beyond.
Now and Then
As I headed towards the front entrance, I saw there was a fake little hint of the old log look, above the door. The words mentioned the Famous Fried Chicken, just like the illustration. When I got inside, I saw a displayed photo from the 1950's, that looked very much like the cookbook image.
Yay for Knotty Pine!
It was 11 am and the restaurant had just opened when we arrived. I was so glad I could take a moment to peek around before guests filled the place up.
I was so delighted to see some retro pine as I headed towards one of the many dining rooms. Better yet, there was a hostess who was more than willing to chat about Maddox's history.
The hostess was seasoned enough to be pretty amused when I shared the old cookbook with her. She seemed thrilled that I was so interested in the history of the restaurant that began as a drive in, in 1949.
She pointed out the log walls and explained how they had once been the exterior. She pointed to the stairway. "There's a dining room up those stairs now, but the Maddox family used to live up there." I loved knowing the restaurant was still owned and operated by the Maddox family.
Through the Years
I loved studying the old photos on the walls. I'm guessing back in 1949, that Irv and Wilma probably had not clue how popular their tiny cabin restaurant would become.
Yay for Drive Ins!
Luckily, Maddox's still keeps the drive-in running. Don and I had eaten a huge breakfast and we couldn't even imagine having a big meal before noon. So we parked under the carport and hoped to get a little something for later.
Park and Order
We joined the line up of cars. The place was pretty hopping at 11:15.
We studied the hanging menus and signs. I read the words, "Keep off the Tramway" and did as I was told. Hmmm? That's an odd word for the platform, where the young girls rushed back and forth.
Our server, Tiffany greeted us through the window. I knew she was far too young to be thrilled by an old cookbook, but I had to share. I reached across Don and asked if they still served the Potato Soup that was shown on the page.
"Only on Wednesday." Tiffany answered. She started to hand the book to Don, then pulled it back to have another look. "How old is this!" She laughed and I was delighted that she'd passed the cookbook test with a good reaction. She was nice enough to pose with the book for a photo.
We ordered a 4-piece chicken basket, along with some root beer and had a lovely truck stop picnic, a couple hours later. The chicken would have been much better on a china plate with mashed potatoes... seated beside a logg-y wall. But our picnic was a yummy way to complete our funny little dining/drive-in adventure!
Don and I found ourselves in Midway, Utah in August. We didn't have time to stop for a meal at the old Homestead Resort. But, we did make time to grab our traveling cookbook and head inside for a peek.
This is the crazy book, (put out by Ford Motor Company) that has led us to some curious places and some fun people encounters.
As we walked across the lawn, I studied the illustration in the 1963 cookbook. The columns were still there. The circle of grass was there, with a fountain in the middle... and the mountains were back there... somewhere.
Exploring The Homestead
Don and I walked towards the main house and stepped inside. There was little vintage charm to the remodeled lobby, so we headed down a knotty pine hallway and found an interesting display of historic photos.
It was about 5, when we headed for the restaurant. We weren't interested in eating, but we were a little curious to see if they still served this fine recipe for Chicken Livers with Bordelaise Sauce. Don and I both liked everything about the recipe, except the liver.
Dining Room & Bar
The dining room was quiet and the hostess was not all too welcoming. When we asked if the bar was open, she handed us menus. "Well, we're only licensed as a restaurant, so you'll have to eat something." She could tell we weren't from Utah.
Quiet at the Bar
There was no bartender on duty and the lovebirds seated at the end, pretended we weren't there. I could tell we were not going to have any fun with the cookbook.
When the hostess came to take our food and drink order, I told her I didn't see any chicken livers on the menu. I had already guessed that our hostess would not be a bit amused by the vintage book and recipe. I was right. I pointed to the cookbook page and grinned. "You used to!" Awkward pause. Then I asked if we could split a cup of soup.
Don and I shared a cup of broccoli soup and it was actually delicious. We sipped our wine and beer and I laughed at my failed attempt with the cookbook.
The Chef Gets It!
"No, we don't make this." He said with another chuckle. "But we could!" He stood a while and mentioned a few ingredients that would make the recipe better. "Would you eat it if I made it?" I paused and admitted, "No." He grinned and took one last look at the book cover, before handing it back. "By the way," I said, pointing to the empty cup. "That soup is amazing!"
Maybe that wasn't top on our list of cookbook adventures. But our brief little soup dining adventure ended well. The chef's yummy soup and his genuine delight with the book, made us put The Homestead on the list, for next time!
Roadside Dining in Price, Utah
How can anyone resist a sign like this, when it's lunchtime?
On the Main Drag
We pulled into the lot and had to make a decision. Sit in our car and be served, like the 1960's? Or sit at one of the tables?
That was an easy decision. It was about 95 degrees, there were umbrellas and we had a breeze. Plus we'd been driving from Colorado and we were ready to be out of the car. Trinity came to our table and told us a little about the place.
I peeked in one of the many windows and there was quite a staff, bustling around the kitchen.
On the Wall
This is what roadside dining is all about. I never would have a corndog and tots anywhere else. All food rules go out the window, when I know I'm on the road and it's my only chance to ever eat at Sherald's! Don's burger was quite tasty. My corndog... was a corndog!
Ice Cream Plus a Monkey!
I'm not sure I have ever in my life had an ice cream cone with a plastic monkey on top! The monkey pretty much made my day. And so did Trinity. She was very sweet.
Can't Miss It!
Cute Little House Motel
What a fun looking motel sitting in the shade of the trees, with an almost fake-looking mountain range just beyond. It looked inviting enough with the porch and rocking chairs, but what really had me excited was that we had spotted this place in our old retro cookbook. Here was a chance for yet another dining/cookbook adventure!
A Late Lunch
We entered the cozy lobby and were pleased to know lunch was still being served. We spoke with a young man at the old desk who said his grandmother had managed the hotel & restaurant for years.
He pointed to the framed photos on the wall and told us his grandmother had some great stories about some of those movie stars. Kanab had evidently been nicknamed Little Hollywood long ago. Over 100 movies and TV episodes had been filmed in the area.
In 1924, local brothers got some temporary work when a Hollywood movie was shot for the first time in Southern Utah. The brothers helped with transporting some of the crew who came to film a "picture" starring Tom Mix. Within a few years, the area was swarming with Hollywood folks. The Parry Brothers built their motel in 1931 to accommodate the stars and crew members. At one time, the lodge itself became part of a movie set for the film, "The Girl in the Black Stockings".
Built Around an Old Farmhouse
The Parry brothers built their motel/lodge around what was then a farm house. They provided lodging, food and transportation for Western film stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, as well as more serious actors like Gregory Peck and Sidney Poitier. I imagine some of those big trees were there when the lodge was built. Too bad they lost their sprawling lawn in front, when the highway cut through. But that was the highway that helped us discover the place.
We were invited into the sunny dining room with flowery wallpaper, ruffled curtains and more Hollywood photos. I was sorry that the hostess was fairly new and didn't have much more input for us.
It's always fun to see what kind of reaction we get when we share one of these old Ford Cookbooks with a server or cook. Often the recipes are outdated and no longer used. Often the illustration gets a good laugh or gasp.
But I held the book back a while and studied the menu. No pot roast offerings, so I went for the salad bar.
I took my time piling my plate with greens and crispy bacon and chopped egg. I scooped up some chili that turned out to be pretty tasty. And I chatted with a nearby couple at the only other occupied table.
Don ordered the Special of the Day for $7. 95. Beef patty with onions, mashed potatoes & gravy...and of course some good old peas, corn and carrots.
It kind of looked like a meal they might have served in the 1940's or '50's.
Cary and the Cookbook
While finishing our meal, this fellow came out from the kitchen and asked playfully, "How was your food today... because I cooked it!" I ended up showing him the book and he was thrilled. He said he'd been experimenting with old lodge recipes, like one for dinner rolls and another for Chicken and Dumplings. He chuckled that customers had complained about too much salt in that one.
Darla and the Book
Someone got word to Darla, the manager that there was a vintage cookbook in the dining room. She came in and joined us and shared some old postcard images of the lodge.
She was eager to copy the Pot Roast recipe for their records and then she showed me around outside. She studied the book's illustration and we imagined how nice the porch sitting would have been with no highway and parking lot. She pointed to some rose bushes and told me they'd been there since the place opened.
A Peek at the Pool
Darla pointed towards the pool and said Frank Sinatra had some influence in getting that put in, when he and the Rat Pack stayed. Sinatra must have had his wife with him at least some of the time, since he made a special request to the Parry Brothers.
Darla said he talked the brothers into building a suite for his mother-in-law... at the opposite end of the complex!
Our dining adventure was more about the Hollywood history than the food. I hope next time we come, we can stay over, for a Notable Night experience. Then we'll have a little more time to enjoy dining and lingering in the Coffee Shop.
Recently Don and I had a pleasant surprise, while exploring the town of Midway in an area called Heber Valley. The shops in town and many of the homes appeared to reflect a Swiss history. We saw Alpine style chalets and hand painted stucco exteriors. Evidently in the 1800's about 50 Swiss immigrants arrived to open dairy farms and the area continues to enjoy an Alpine flavor. We were enjoying our drive when we cam upon the Blue Boar Inn sitting on a hill at the entrance to a neighborhood. First I noticed the boar looking at us... a copy of the famous bronze statue in Florence, which I'm very fond of. Then my eyes took in the building, which seemed right out of a fairytale. There was painted stucco and a stone tower, plus a veranda with international flags waving in the chilly breeze.
Had to Stop
We had eaten a late breakfast and weren't in search of a meal, but I insisted we pull over so I could run in and have a peek inside. I climbed the stairs to a heavy rounded door, that matched the shape above the fireplace inside. Another boar greeted me, this one with an almost playful wig of greenery!
I couldn't hold back my grin when I took in the grand display in the entryway and dining room. It was lunchtime, but there were no diners. A lovely young server named Brittany, (who managed to pull off a uniform that included knickers laced at the calf) greeted me warmly. I wasn't really hungry and I don't usually feel comfortable eating in my road trip attire at quiet tables with white cloths. But Brittany was so enthused showing me around, that I just went out to the car and dragged Don inside for lunch.
A Perfect Lunch
We were seated at a cozy corner table where we could check out the display of medieval crossbows and a swooping alpenhorn mounted on the wall. As we settled in, snow flurries swirled just enough to excite, but not worry these Texan tourists. Brittany's eagerness to serve us almost made me feel like we were surprise guests at a snowed in cabin... but she chatted and lingered just enough, never making us feel awkward for being the only diners.
We studied the wooden menus carefully and chose just enough food for our small appetites. I had the Onion Gratinee, which tasted as decadent as this photo. I was in heaven with my favorite soup filled with dark broth, thick with onions and a thick layer of cheese covering chewy bread. Eating my soup was a little comical as I splattered and slurped. Don's pork sandwich was mouthwatering moist, with crispy pomme fries that he generously shared.
Our bill came in horn shaped pewter mug, with some chocolate treats! I pondered how a place like this could have classy touches, reasonable prices, a prize winning chef who serves everything from escargot to wild boar chops and have so few customers! But Brittany explained John Warnock, the founder of Adobe Systems opened this inn with his wife as a sort of dream 13 years ago. Brittany invited us to tour some of the luxurious guest rooms named for writers such as Shakespeare and Frost. I pictured Mr. Warnock and his wife having quite a good time decorating and designing every nook and cranny of this amazing place. Not too many businesses could survive such an out of the way spot, during the off season!
On a cold day, my favorite room was the pub with it's whimsical and yummy name. The cozy walnut-paneled room had numerous antiques, including a 16th century bar imported from France. I of course loved the carved boars, the stone fireplace and the deep arched windows looking out to the garden patio. The chairs didn't look too comfy, but each table had a tiny flag and a bowl of pistachios. Now that's a unique touch!
Till Next Time
After our unexpected feast and our tour of some of the 12 guestrooms, we headed off. Hopefully we can return to stay a night or two and enjoy some of the heartier meals at dinner or Sunday brunch! I'll take a room with an iron balcony please!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.