Lunch in October 2019
On this muggy July day in Texas, I'm remembering a chilly outing in Oregon.
Don and I enjoyed a cozy lunch with our daughter, in this fabulous stone building, last fall.
What a treat to have Heidi drive us out from Portland, to see Multnomah Falls.
It was early enough when we started our hike, that the bridge wasn't jammed with tourists. We hiked long and high enough to work up a good appetite and enough warmth, to shed our coats.
Completed in 1925
The 95 year old lodge looked picture perfect, sitting at the base of the falls.
The lodge no longer houses overnight guests, but they had a restaurant and there was smoke coming from the chimney, just like the old photo.
The gift shop on the first level was swarming, but when we headed up to the restaurant, we found the dining rooms calm and inviting.
I wondered about the stairs behind the host's desk. I was told there was just storage upstairs now, but the staff was once housed there. I really wanted to steal the lodge model that was on display. Very cute!
The main dining rooms were to the left, but I peeked at few extra rooms off to the right.
The old lodge furniture made it easy to picture guests staying here, back in twenties and thirties. There were only 5 guest rooms, originally. They became offices in the 1950's.
There were a couple options for tables. The great room was original, with stone walls and soaring ceiling.
Evidently most people request the newer atrium, with views of the falls and lush green growth.
Near the Fire!
I always opt for dining in the original part, when there's a choice.
Our table wasn't far from the fireplace, with a real cracking fire! There were dramatic light fixtures, reminding me of a haunted castle. And the vintage artwork, showed scenes of the falls and mountains.
Vintage Place Setting
I was delighted with the retro placemat and china.
I was quite entertained with the trivia on my mat. Multnomah Falls is the second highest year-round waterfall in the U.S.!
Heidi looked the part in her sweater and knit cap, as she dug into her poached eggs and hash browns.
Don also was tempted by the breakfast options. He had a salmon-scramble, also with hash browns.
I couldn't resist having potato bacon soup, on a chilly day. Don shared some of his toast and that made it perfect. All was yummy and the atmosphere was casual-comfy!
As I write this up, our hot weather has turned to steamy storms. I'm looking at these photos longingly. Plaid shirts and jackets AND a cozy meal served in a lodge in Oregon! It's Pandemic July 2020 and I haven't eaten in a restaurant since early March.
Dreaming of the future!
Small Town Texas
Today, I'm remembering a little feast from four years ago.
We were passing through the small Hill Country town of Chappell Hill and spotted the Lazy Mule. I liked the Mule X-ing sign.
Don and I were traveling with our son. Scott and I stepped inside to see if the saloon served food. We met Larry. At least I think his name was Larry. He was actually sweeping the floor when we first entered.
Larry told us he could heat up some pizza for us, but mostly the place was for drinking. It was a saloon, after all. We passed on the pizza and had a good time chatting.
Scott and I noticed a curious sign on the wall. We had just passed a dog on the porch.
That poor little pup only had 3 legs, I believe. Nice to know he was welcome inside.
Randy told us to feel free to look around. I admired the raccoon with his Mardi Gras beads and his jar of peanut butter.
I also noticed a list on the wall, with names of all the businesses that had been inside this funny little building. The first on the list was Zientek Grocery. Pretty funny, since some of my husbands relatives spelled his family name that way!
I wish I could remember better, the story that Randy told us about the building being moved. "There were people inside drinking. They just rolled it on down the road." I'm not sure if that was a tall tale.
Moving Ourselves to a New Location
With hopes of something besides frozen pizza, we headed off down the road.
There's not a whole lot in the rural unincorporatated community of Chappell Hill. But we did find a cafe/meat market.
And the business had been around since 1939! I love a cafe with history.
I'm always game for sitting at a counter, but that's harder with 3.
We passed up the cute red stools and headed for a table with a red & white checkered, vinyl cloth.
During blue bonnet season, I believe this place gets some tourist traffic. But it was just us and a few locals on this afternoon.
I can only make a guess about what we ate, by looking at these photos from my computer.
I do remember thinking the hamburger, wrapped in red and white paper, was pretty classic.
I went for the baked potato and Scott had good old chicken fingers, fries and gravy. He must have shared a chicken finger with me. Surely my potato didn't come with that. ? As I recall, the food was tasty and the atmosphere was very small town comfy.
When we finished, we paid up and took a visit to the adjoining market.
I'm pretty sure that Dziekuje was the name of the family that owned the biz... or once did. I wonder if the "Sweet Treat" rack was from 1939. There were some mighty fine sweet Honey Buns and Donuts for sale, but we didn't buy.
We didn't buy any potatoes or onions, either. I would have bought that wonderful wooden holder, if I could have.
I loved the old photo of the original shop. I'll be they still get lots of cowboy hats at the cafe. And I wonder if they had Dr. Pepper on the menu?
This is a super lame write-up, but it is July 19, 2020 and I am not going on dining adventures during the pandemic. My biggest adventure today involved finding these old photos on my computer!
Original Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant
Last October, Don and I walked from our hotel on Nob Hill, to Fisherman's Wharf.
We spotted Sabella & La Torre's, and numerous classic seafood eateries.
It was such a beautiful day. All we had planned to do was wander and absorb scenery.
We studied the fishing boats and looked out at Alcatraz. For a while we watched a gathering, that included the mayor of San Francisco!
It was still early, but restaurants began opening and we started getting hungry.
Every single place looked inviting. We figured we'd just grab some outdoor stools and order a lobster roll.
If It Swims We Have It!
We decided on Sabella and La Torre's. But it turns out, they only served their lobster rolls, inside.
So we took a peek inside the cozy place
One look at the retro bar and we were excited.
Luckily we were early enough to grab a couple retro stools at the bar.
Gina greeted us at the bar and handed us some menus. I opened mine up and laughed.
Gina said everyone loves that menu feature. It's a small cut in the fold, that makes the fish look like he's opening his mouth. She said (with a laugh) that it actually costs about an extra dollar per menu, to have those cuts put in.
Sharing a Lobster Roll
We told Gina we wanted to split a lobster roll. She said no problem.
Our split meal came out on two plates, with no extra charge.
It was mouthwatering. We should have gotten two! Oh how I love those little cocktail napkins.
The restaurant began to fill as we started in on our food. I saw Gina greet a few regulars from the behind the bar. There seemed to be more locals than tourists.
The dining room looked like it probably hadn't changed much, over the years.
I loved the wall mural, with all the familiar sights... Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower.
Gina's Great Grandfather
We were lucky that we got to talk quite a bit with Gina. She said she was 3rd generation. Gina pointed to this photo of her great grandfather, Luciano Sabella. He came from Sicily as a crab fisherman.
Luciano and his sons opened the business in 1927, selling crabs and other seafood, to drive up customers. After WWII, the business was turned over to more family and eventually the seafood stand became a full, dine in restaurant.
We hadn't planned on lunch at the wharf, but we ended up with a perfect little food and history adventure!
Don and I celebrated our 40th anniversary at Sears Fine Food.
That had not exactly been our plan, for our one night in San Francisco.
Don and I were in San Fran, last October. We spent one night at the lovely Fairmont Hotel. It was our big 40th, so we dressed in tiki attire and headed down to the hotel's Tonga Room. Our plans changed when we learned that the tropical paradise bar/restaurant, had been booked for a closed event.
So we did what we do best on all our travels... we adapted and found fun elsewhere. We headed a few blocks away to the Powell Street, with its colorful neon signs. We had drinks at the Sir Francis Drake hotel, then crossed over to Sears.
This is how the dining room looked at about 8:30 pm. We were pretty thrilled the place was still in business. We remembered coming here about 20 years ago.
The long dining room looked different to me. It was filled with old photographs and memorabilia, but I remembered more of a vintage, white tablecloth place. Pink walls? I can't really remember.
I was a little disappointed when our server arrived at the table. He was quite young and had only been on the job for 2 weeks. I had hoped for some old character, who would remember all the restaurant history. Open since 1938!
But then I met Eddie in the front of the restaurant. He wasn't really all that old, but he was chatty and wore a vest, covered in teddy bears. That's a conversation starter.
A Closer Look
Eddie was going on 17 years, working at Sears. I told him that Don and I had fond memories of eating pancakes with our kids at Sears, in 2000. That was pre-Eddie. He let me know they'd had a change in ownership since then.
He pointed out some old photos and news clips on the wall.
This pic looked like it could have been from 20 years ago. It doesn't look as retro as I remembered.
I loved this write up about a former maitre d' who used to greet guests at Sears. He didn't start working as a host, until he was 105!
I'm afraid he had already passed, when we dined 2 decades ago. What a treat it would have been, to have been shown to our table by Sidney Amber!
Don and I finally got down to studying the menu. It was pretty fun to read some of the history starting in 1938, when Ben and Hilbur Sears opened.
Ben used to park 2 pink Cadillacs in front of the biz, with heaters and radios on. What a hoot to sit in a glamorous pink caddy, waiting for your table!
The restaurant is no longer owned by the Sears family, but at least the new ownership added evening dining. Back when visited years ago, we couldn't have ordered Lobster Ravioli. That was my choice. It came stuffed with eastern lobster and ricotta cheese. It was served with a healthy blob of sauteed spinach and lobster saffron cream. Yummy rich!
Don went for the Chef's special of Teriyaki Tuna Steak with sesame seeds. It was served with mashed potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki sauce. All good!
We were stuffed, but it seemed a shame not to order the thing that Sears is known for. We asked for a half order of Swedish Pancakes, made using the same recipe that belonged to Ben Sears' Swedish wife.
Our server brought us a full order anyway. Oh how I could use some of those pancakes right now. We weren't able to finish even a quarter, but took them with us.
By the time we finished up, the restaurant had emptied out. I was able to make a quick look around, while Don paid up.
There were lots of antiques in front.
Lots of old-timey photos on the wall.
And of course and old mixer and sewing machine.
This is the room that I loved the best. The dining counter/bar was set up with all the stools set properly for the morning... napkins and forks, at the ready.
About 3 minutes after I snapped this photo, the room filled with staff. A cake was placed on the counter and the kitchen and restaurant staff burst into Happy Birthday! Our waiter had sort of an embarrassed grin, like we'd caught them all goofing off on the job. But I loved it. What a happy looking crew! We added a big "Happy Birthday!" on our way out.
Sears in 2020
I'm glad we had our odd little anniversary dinner at Sears. I'm glad it's managed to stay open, all these years.
I'm writing this almost 8 months later, with all my stay-at-home-pandemic time. I just looked Sears up on the internet and I'm glad to see they are at least serving carryout food, now. I so hope they will be able to open before too long and get back to normal.
I have such memories of this old train station, from when I lived in Ann Arbor.
I took this photo for my high school photography class, in 1974. I loved the castle-like stonework. I remember eating inside with my family. The Gandy Dancer Restaurant had only been open a few years.
The grand building didn't look much different last July, when Don and I visited Ann Arbor.
The Michigan Central Railroad station was completed in 1886. Historic figures from Winston Churchill to John F. Kennedy, stepped off trains at this station. The building was converted to a restaurant, in 1970.
July 4, 2019
Last summer, Don and I spent a couple of nights in Ann Arbor and dropped by for lunch.
We crossed over the bricks of old Depot Street and killed a few minutes admiring flowers and flags along the brick sidewalk. At 11:30 the doors opened!
The rounded entrance was just how I remembered it. The inside entry seemed much more dramatic, with soaring ceiling and stained glass.
I was glad we'd arrived before other diners, so I could snap some photos. In the past, I never had a chance to study the red oak ceilings or the glowing lamps.
(click image to enlarge)
My memories all involve family celebrations. There are no photos of my family dining, when I was in high school. I wish I had pics from 1990, when we celebrated my brother's law school graduation. The waiters were patient and delightful, with my squirmy 1 and 3 year olds. Both fell asleep and the adults happily relaxed finished up our wine.
In 2005, Don and I ate Easter brunch at Gandy Dancer, with our kids. Heidi and Scott didn't fidget and toss food, this time.
We were visiting the U of M campus that weekend. It was the spring before Heidi started college there. It was fun to watch the kids enjoying a little Gandy Dancer experience. I had been between their ages, when I first stepped inside that building.
Our Table, 2019
I was a little disappointed that we weren't seated in the space that had once been a grand waiting room.
The area in the old waiting room, seemed cozy and historic. Some of the seating looked like original station benches. But we were taken into the glassed in dining room, where we dined with the kids, 15 years ago.
Our table looked to be pretty close to the same spot, where we sat for brunch! It turned out to be the best table for train viewing. When Amtrak went by, the staff and diners clapped.
Power Lunch Special!
Don and I were pretty delighted to order off the "Fast & Fresh" lunch menu, for $16.50. As we chowed down on our 4th of July feast, I looked out over the tracks. I remember taking Amtrak, back when Amtrak was a new thing. I remember heading off on those very tracks, to Detroit and St. Louis.
Our meal started with toasty breads and salads. My Caesar was the real thing, with fat anchovies! Don's Martha's Vineyard Salad, was actually the best. Bibb lettuce, pine nuts, blue cheese and maple raspberry vinaigrette!
My shrimp and artichoke linguine, was heavenly. Provencale tomato sauce! Don's IPA battered fish came with coleslaw and fries. All mighty tasty. Hard to believe these were lunch sizes!
After we finished up, we had a wonderful chat with the general manager, Charlene. She had seen me snapping a photo of the first floor bar and invited me to look upstairs where the origanl had been.
I looked up and I could see the balcony connected to the room above. And a wonderful train model! Love that!
Charlene pointed me towards the stairs and I wandered up for a look. I could see across the dining room, to the rounded terra cotta fireplace.
Charlene pointed out the sign hanging above the curious fireplace. Funny, I didn't know Detroit was only 38 miles from Ann Arbor.
Charlene said the sign was originally on the outside of the building. It had been damaged in a train accident.
Charlene pointed out a photograph, on the wall. She said she had found the old black and white print, in the attic and had it framed. "This is why we clap when trains go by!" That's pretty funny. I love traditions like that. Show gratitude for the train not crashing!
The image looks even older, but I believe the accident happened in the 1960's. Some kids had caused the derailment, when they vandalized the tracks, by pulling up nails. Charlene showed me where the train hit the building (and sign). Luckily no one was killed.
The Baggage Room
Charlene also gave us a peek into what had been the old baggage room, which wasn't always connected as it is today. It was amazing to picture horses coming into this space, with luggage and cargo.
Charlene pointed out the scale that was used. She also reminded me that the name Gandy Dancer, refers to the "section hands" who once laid and maintained the railroad tracks.
Before we took off, I had a quick look at a few dining spots that I would love to enjoy in the future.
I'm so glad we were able to squeeze in a lunch on a holiday, but I would really love to come back for a drawn out dinner at night. There are so many cozy spots.
I looked through some windows and found two romantic tables. I believe these tables might have been part of the old ticket booth. I wish I could click a button and see the interior space, just as it was in the late 1800's.
Gandy Dancer in 2020
I'm so glad that we had a chance to dine at the Depot, last summer. It's been almost a year now and the restaurant is struggling like all restaurants across the country.
The article was from a while back, so I'm hoping they might be at least partially opened by now. I hope they can survive this difficult time. I also hope to someday get back and eat dinner in one of those extra cozy tables!
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.