Springfield, Missouri in 2016
Today, I'm thinking back to a cozy rainy day, about 6 years ago. Don and I stopped at a corner fountain drugstore, for a little breakfast.
It was a chilly fall day and that made the place look all the more inviting.
I have fond memories of eating at drug stores, when I was a kid. It probably seems odd to kids today, to think that people would grab a sandwich or have a malt at drug store. Do kids even know the term drug store?
Gailey's doesn't have the drugs anymore, but they did when John and Beulah Gailey opened in in downtown Springfield, in 1942. John was a pharmacist and Beulah cooked up burgers and served malts.
Dining at the Counter
When we stepped inside, I saw the stools at the counter and was reminded of Cunningham Drugs in Grinnell, Iowa. I remember being a kid and heading over to Cunningham's after visiting Dr. Grimmer, for my annual check up. I would carry the prescription that Dr. Grimmer had written out on his pad.
I'd step inside the drugstore along with Mom and a sibling or two. Then instead of going to the pharmacy, we'd go straight to the lunch counter. I loved climbing up on the stool and holding out my prescription... my prescription for "One Ice Cream Cone". Much better than drugs!
Table or Counter?
Don and I were glad we actually had options for seating when we entered Gailey's.
The kid side of me wanted to sit at the counter. But Don was in the mood for a chair. We found a good table with a view of the whole place.
It was 9 am and it was a chilly, damp morning.
As much as I wanted to revisit my childhood memories with an ice cream cone, I needed coffee and breakfast.
Savory or Sweet?
Don's scrambled eggs with tomato, mushrooms and feta was perfectly savory. The waiter handled a little hash brown error, by scraping the sweet potatoes from Don's plate. Eventually his regular hash browns arrived, but they were a bit cold.
French Toast and sausage was my choice! The sweet syrup was just what the doctor ordered on a drizzly morning!
Coffee and Eavesdropping
Actually the coffee was just what the doctor ordered. I wish my doctor today gave me free prescriptions for coffee!
As I sipped away, I listened to all the upbeat jabber at the counter. As I woke up with my coffee, I realized the counter was where all the action was.
A Visit to the Counter
After stuffing myself with sweet break and syrup, I decided to head over to the counter for a little entertainment. I could watch the foods sizzling on the grill and see what others were ordering.
Sadly I realized that I'd missed out on a very curious breakfast option. Pancakes & Peanut Butter Sauce! It was fun watching this very pleasant server, scoop up big spoonfuls of peanut butter and swirl the mix over the tops of 2 huge steaming pancakes! How did I miss this specialty on the menu? Next time!
Before departing, I took a quick look around. I tried to imagine the original Gailey's a half century ago. Was this rounded wall always there?
A quick trip to the restroom, gave me a peek at the original brick. It was nice that they preserved some of the brick, when they remodeled with the earthy-modern sink.
I stopped to peek at some framed news clippings before we headed out the door. I love it when an iconic restaurant or cafe, spotlights their history. I paused and read a little about the Gaileys and their business.
Today I look at the photo and my eyes were drawn to the title, "Gaileys still like to treat the little guy like king." I wish I could read the smaller, blurry words. I've forgotten the story. But I'm happily reminded of when I felt like QUEEN, eating my ice cream at Cunningham's!
I love adventures at old drugstore cafes! I'm glad this one is still around!
Don and I haven't dined out a whole lot, during the pandemic.
But in November 2021, we had a dining adventure or two, in New Orleans. On the day before Thanksgiving, we joined my brother and sister-in-law for a fun mini-adventure at Stein's Market and Deli.
We walked from our hotel to the deli, located on Magazine Street. There were lots of signs on the weathered door. The sign in the center got my attention. "No Mask No Service".
Nola doesn't seem like the safest city to visit, during a pandemic. I don't think it attracts the kind of people who like to follow rules. But we heard that restaurants and bars in the French Quarter were requiring vaccination cards. Suddenly dining out sounded safer and more appealing.
Masks and Card Requirement?
Actually no one "carded" us at the deli. Maybe they have different rules in the Lower Garden District.
But, Don, Chris, Karen and I were vaccinated and we were hungry. We headed in.
Where are we?
Once we were inside the hip little joint, I suddenly felt like I was somewhere far from New Orleans.
I didn't spot any Mardi Gras beads, so it didn't feel like Louisiana. It seemed a little friendlier than NYC. I spotted some medical scrubs and a few hipster hats... some possible students and professors... I'd say it most felt like we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
We stood in line and read the menu. There were no Shrimp Po-Boys on the menu. No Cajin this and Creole that. That's okay, we've sampled all that on past trips.
Stein's is a Jewish-Italian deli, so we had other options. We could order Bagels or a Meatball Sub. Or maybe Chopped Liver and Matzah Ball Soup!
After ordering we were able to grab a few stools, at the end of a long table, across from a case of meat and cheese. I heard they have 50 different kinds of cheese, from all over the world.
I studied the staff behind the counter as we waited for our order. I don't think I spotted anyone who could have been the owner, Dan Stein. He evidently moved from Philadelphia to Nola and opened this place in 2007.
Chris and Karen got their food first. They wisely split a Ruben sandwich. I was pretty sure I made the wrong choice when I saw their yummy feast on swirly bread.
I watched the masked staff bustle behind the counter, while I waited for my sandwich. Each time an order came up, there was a muffled announcement that totally confused me. Twice, I eagerly rushed up, only to be turned away. "Oops! Sorry, I thought you said..."
Finally our order was ready. Don ordered the Stein's version of a Muffuletta sandwich.
It was made with Mortadella, Molinari Sopressata, Tuscan ham, Aged Provolone, House-Made Olive Salad, on Ciabatta.
My Egg Salad was just a little lacking in flavor, but it still sort of hit the spot.
Don and I each had a half of a sandwich left. We packaged up the leftovers and meandered back to the hotel.
We took our time, studying all the beautiful homes. By the time we reached our hotel on St.Charles Street, I'd worked up an appetite!
Glad to have those leftovers! Perfect!
Pot of Gold or Port of Gold?
While traveling in Oregon last summer, I searched the internet for a good lunch stop. I spotted a cafe, at POT of Gold Beach! Hey, fun! Let's go!
Oops! I read too fast. It was PORT of Gold Beach. But that sounded fun, too. I liked the name of the cafe as well. The Port Hole Cafe (Not Pot Hole Cafe) sounded like a fun seafood place!
The Cannery and Fish Market
We followed GPS to the small town of Gold Beach. The port was just south of the Rogue River Bridge. We parked and headed over to the Cannery complex.
I had hoped to find an old wooden structure, with lots of fishermen stopping in for lunch. What we found was a a little more spiffed up. The original cannery from the 1960's had been replaced.
Fish Market, Processing Plant..
We still got to see a little activity as we walked down to the cafe. We passed the Fish Market and I got to peek in and watch a guy in a slick yellow apron, go to work on a big fish!
I'm sure things were very different in the 1960's, when ocean troll salmon fishing was at its peak. Economic and environmental issues forced change.
Port Hole Cafe
We found the cafe entrance near a serious little fisherman statue. I wish there had been a real fisherman around, so I could hear some stories.
This space opened in 1998, as a retail facility with restaurant and commercial fish processing facilities. I was hoping for an authentic seafood joint, where fishermen dined, decades ago. But we could tell the place was popular as we followed others in. That was a good sign.
At noon and cafe was hopping. We had to wait for a table, so I had some time to look around and absorb the atmosphere.
Seafood joint with knotty pine and fishing decor. Dining guests with overalls and camo hats. It all fit. And how about that Tsunami Hazard Zone sign, above the door. Decoration or real?
I wondered about our fellow diners. I didn't spot any obvious travelers like us.
Mostly the folks appeared to be locals. The Gold Beach community is only a couple thousand people, so it's not surprising that many seemed to know each other.
Where to Sit?
I wasn't in the mood to beg for a great table. But I hoped for one with a view of the harbor.
How about a table overlooking the Mighty Rogue River? I was impressed to realize this view was so very close to where the Rogue River meets the Pacific.
I was very curious about a few booths, with wooden divider walls. I've never seem that.
I watched a large family getting seated at two booths. The divider was lifted so they could dine together. Clever!
At the Bar?
We were invited to sit at the bar if we wanted to be seated faster.
We could have kept an eye on the kitchen if we'd taken at seat there.
Instead we went for a tall round table, with 2 stools. It wasn't perfect, but we were hungry.
I had been hoping to spot a port hole or two in our restaurant. We had a couple right next to our table. We could spy on our neighbors!
As we sat waiting for our menus, I took in the important messages on signs and shirts. Beside our table, I read a sign with a big red crab, "We serve CRABS... actually we'll serve anybody." Important to know.
That was some corny humor with the crab sign. Our server was pretty rushed and had no sense of humor. When I asked how old the cafe was, she didn't answer. She just spun around so I could see the back of her shirt that told me the date was 1984. That wasn't funny, but I noticed another server's shirt. "A quaint little Drinking Town with a Fishing Problem". Now that's sort of funny.
Views and Treasures
We didn't get one of the tables with a view of boats or seagulls or bridge. But we could look straight down at our table and see treasures!
We could study the sand dollar and pennies, sea glass and rope. I'm all for an interesting table top.
Our food actually came quickly and it hit the spot.
Don went for an Albacore grilled tuna melt, with coleslaw and pickle. Simple but delicious.
I couldn't resist coconut shrimp and French fries. They looked unimpressive with their skinny shape, but they were hot and crisp and tasty, with a spicy-sweet sauce.
Our quick little lunch at The Port, was hardly an adventure. But sometimes there's just a little something that makes it more memorable. I had a quick chat on the way out, with the owner. He said his mother originally owned the Port Hole Cafe, when it was located in an old house, 25 years ago.
As we talked, I noticed a photo in a crafty frame behind him. "Is that Ernest Borgnine?" Yep, that was his mom with Ernest. He used to come to Port Hole, on visits to the area. I read on the internet that he died at age 92 in 2012. He used to drive his motorhome up to the Rogue River to watch the salmon. I don't know why it pleased me to picture this old actor enjoying some shrimp or salmon at the Port Hole.
Before climbing back in the car, I had Don do a quick pose with this fine fisherman. Don was nice to go along with my photo request.
A dining adventure is always more memorable if there's a photo op with a statue. Good way to end!
November in Nola - 2021
In November Don and I met up with family, for our 5th Nola Thanksgiving.
The gathering involved my 3 siblings and their spouses. 6 of us traveled from 3 different states to have the big turkey feast at my brother and sis-in-law's home. But we made sure to squeeze in one dinner, in the French Quarter.
The outing to Antoine's felt sinful for many reasons. It seemed crazy to indulge in a big dining adventure, before Thanksgiving! (but we always do)
I also felt some nagging guilt, about leaving my poor hubby behind. We love to share adventures, at iconic restaurants. But we planned this gathering (with my sibs and spouses) a year before. We had no clue that Don would have bypass surgery in October and a fractured back in November. Actually, Don was sort of happy to relax at the hotel, after our 6 hour drive from Texas.
After nearly 2 months of hunkering at home during Don's recovery, it felt odd to walk into a restaurant. It also felt strange to enter a New Orleans building, where we actually felt comfortable removing our masks. We've all been so cautious.
A year ago, we never guessed we'd be dealing with our second Pandemic Thanksgiving. But our group felt at ease, knowing that Nola restaurants required vaccination cards. (This was before omicron worries invaded the 2021 holidays!)
Mirrors and Windows
After we each showed our proof of vaccine to the host, we were escorted to a corner table in the front of the room. The floor to ceiling windows were perfect for peeking out at St. Louis street. The mirrored walls made it easy to spy on other guests.
Our table felt like an oasis. We were suddenly being pampered. They even rushed a coatrack over, for my brother's hat. Love that.
After nearly 2 years of zooming with my sibs/spouses, we were suddenly together in person... toasting across a round table. Ah, so many memories and photos of this family sitting around the round the Meyer Table, that moved with family from state to state! (blog tangent!)
Honestly the feeling was a bit surreal. There have been so many ups and downs and so many cancelled trips for all of us, during the pandemic. We weren't sure until this very day, that we'd really pull this reunion off.
Main Dining Room
Antoine's has over a dozen dining rooms and I was so pleased to be seated in the main one. This is the space that all guests have entered, for 154 years.
It was fun to settle in, on a chilly November night. The large Christmas tree was cleverly reflected, in all the mirrors! The room felt festive and warm. Cheers for warmth! Even as recently as the 1950's, the gas chandeliers were the only source of heat.
The menu was a quick reminder that Antoine's goes back 182 years! Antoine Alciatore started the French Creole business a block or two away, in 1840.
I was starved after a day of driving from Houston. I dug into the bread as I studied the menu.
Our waiter Austin took good care of us.
Luckily he was willing to humor me when I pulled out the old cookbook.
First, I asked Austin if they served French Pancakes A La Gelee. He said no, so I had to pull out the 1954 book to remind him, that they once did. He was a good sport and chuckled and posed for a photo. But it was a busy night and I hardly expected him to pull up a chair and flip through the pages... like some waiters have, with past cookbook encounters.
No pancakes for me, so I went for the dish that Antoine's is known for. Austin wisely reminded me that there was no spinach. Most people expect that, when they order this famous oyster treat. But Antoine's created the dish in 1889, with green sauce and a mix of herbs and vegetables. No spinach.
There's a story about how this creation came about. There was evidently once a shortage of escargot and this was a creative replacement. My Oysters Rockefeller was tasty, but I'll admit I missed the spinach. I also missed my special fork. The little utensil was hidden by my plate and showed itself, when my plate was cleared. Oops.
For my main dish, I chose the herb-roasted chicken with smoked ham, onion rice and 2 sauces.
Double sauce! Rochambeau and bernaise, pineapple confit! And how about the classic dish it was served in!
There was another classic dish that I was dying to try.
Luckily my Sis-in-law shared some of her Soufflé Potatoes! Thanks, Kate! Fried little airy puffs of yummy potato!
My other Sis-in-law was sad that we hadn't been warned to order the Baked Alaska earlier. But Austin was able to set us up, with a mini version.
Karen deserved this treat, since she had been a good sport, putting up with a nose scrape. She was also a good sport sharing this goodie, which meant she didn't get a whole lot for herself!
Our server Austin couldn't have been more delightful. When he brought out the check, it was on a very special little plate.
It's hard to read in the photo, but the words say: "Antoine's Restaurant Since 1840 (and) Austin Murray Serving Since 1978" That is impressive! Austin told us some quick stories about rescuing dogs during Katrina. But I wish I could have heard more stories from his 4+ decades, working at Antoine's.
Off to the Ladies Room
After finishing up, I took a trip to the Toilette Des Dames! I took a photo of the sitting area. I was curious about the art covered screen that covered the back door.
Only later with some reading, did I learn about a special door in the back of the Ladies' Room. The door was known to some special regular guests, during prohibition.
After dinner, we did a little wandering. We meandered through most of the endless rooms, on the first floor. The Mystery Room was one of them.
The Mystery Room was once a full bar, hidden in the carriage house. During prohibition, regular guests were given a cup with a key. The key opened that little door in the Ladies' washroom. Guests could get something a little stronger than coffee, for their cups. If anyone later inquired about their beverage, they were to answer, "It's a mystery to me."
Oh I love stories like this!
The 1840 Room
It was about 10 pm, so we did a fairly quick sweep through the halls and rooms. I could have spent an hour in each.
The 1840 Room was built in honor of the restaurant's centennial celebration, in 1940.
The Rex Room
A number of rooms are named for Mardi Gras krewes.
This bright green & gold room, was decorated in honor of one of New Orlean's oldest. The Krewe of Rex.
The Proteus Room
The seaside colors in the Proteus room, were a little more calming!
This was another private dining room, named for a carnival krewe.
I was glad to be touring around at 10 pm, on a weeknight so close to Thanksgiving. If it had been a Saturday a few weeks later, these doors might have been shut for private parties.
Escargot Society Room
I loved the snail on this wall!
This room was established for the Escargot Society, (of distinguished culinary enthusiasts) so I read. I Googled the club and didn't exactly find any scoop, so I guess I won't try to join.
I headed past a lovely old fireplace to find a totally empty bar.
This bar with windows onto St. Louis Street, would probably look very different on a Saturday in the summer. I was surprised to learn it was added in recent years.
The biggest dining area was in the center of the building.
It was busy when I first walked through to the Ladies' Room. I noticed that fewer men were wearing jackets. The jacket rule ended with Hurricane Katrina.
The large red room was empty when we headed back to the main room after our exploring. I was able to peek at some of the famous folks on the wall, without bothering diners.
There are way too many to name. Whoopi and Groucho looked down at one table, Katharine Hepburn at another. Almost every president since Hoover has dined here. And Brad Pitt has been known to ride his bike here.
Last to Leave
As we headed into the main dining room, it looked like we were about the last to leave.
We wished the fabulous staff a Happy Thanksgiving!
Before we took off, we got a photo of our family. (Missing Don and my sis-in-law on this night) It looks like the Meyer gang wasn't the only family in our photograph. Are those members of Antoine's family on the wall behind us?
What an amazing history. Antoine would be pretty happy to know that the restaurant he worked so hard to create was still making diners happy! His great-great grandson, Rick Blount is the CEO today. 5th generation! I love a good family and I love mine!
I love a place with a little history. The McNear Building in Petaluma has a lot of that.
The Mystic Theater is on the left. McNear's Saloon & Dining House is on the right. There was even some outside seating. A perk during pandemic travel times.
Don and I visited McNear's during our stay in Petaluma last July. We were able to walk from our hotel.
The two buildings looked inviting, with the glowing movie marquee and the lights above the patio.
1886 & 1911
The McNear Building looked only slightly different, 100+ years ago. This old image shows a horse and buggy, instead of a red pick up. There was no theatre either. Candies and electricity!
The saloon on the right was built by John A. McNear in 1886. The building on the left was added in 1911. The McNear Family owned these buildings until 1976, when the current owners purchased.
We stepped inside the saloon and I took a good look at the floor.
I assume the tile is original. I was hoping we'd see more hints of history.
It was busy when we stepped inside, so no one greeted us right away. Except for this guy in his taped up skirt.
I'm not sure what the story is with this character, but he looked a little out of place.
There were some furry characters inviting us in, as well.
There were a few seats open at the bar, if we wanted to meet up with some local characters. We used to happily do that, on our pre-covid travels.
We were vaccinated during our travels in July. The world was feeling safer. But mingling at a bar has lost its appeal lately. We chose a table in an airy room beside the patio.
It was July, but as the sun lowered the open windows brought in chilly air. I was glad to be inside.
I didn't set expectations high for food. We'd chosen the place because of it's old charm, not good food reviews. Bar food often tastes like bar food.
But Don's Rueben, was actually pretty fabulous. It was served on a fresh roll and the fries were hot and crispy!
I love soup on a doily... in a saloon! That made me grin.
But the hot and spicy soup made me even happier. It was packed with chicken and cheese and fresh veggies. I love cilantro, so I was happy. I guess those "No Cilantro People" know the ask ahead. Perfect soup for me!
After we ate, it was time to wander.
We headed up a set of stairs in the center of the saloon and took in a good view of diners/drinkers below. I wonder how many were Petaluma locals?
Red Bull Room
I'm pretty sure the upstairs room was called the Red Bull Room. It looked like the space was used for private gatherings.
There were no people upstairs, but lots of people in black and white photos on the brick wall. The famous (and less famous) faces, showed the talents who have performed at the Mystic Theatre. In the 1990's the old theatre next door, became a venue for live performance.
This old poster from 1929 showed the January calendar of entertainment. I spotted Tom Mix, in the Lone Ranger and Rin Tin Tin!
I liked the reminder on the top line. "The Theatre Needs You" & "You Need the Theatre" Fitting words for 1929 and 2021.
Red Bull & Martini
I wish we could have taken in some live music in the theatre. Or seen an silent movie in the old Vaudeville theatre. I wish we could have had martinis, under the Red Bull.
I wish we could have talked to some locals about what this place was like before it was rescued by the current owners, in 1976. But we enjoyed our own observations and wandering. Hopefully our travels and explorations will involved more people encounters, in the future!
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.