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Photo TR: Jason's Roadfood Adventures


printersdevil78
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OK, I know I promised this report would be about a fried chicken joint, but I forgot that the next restaurant I visited in this year's chronology actually was Bullock's Family Restaurant (nee Beef House) in Westminster, MD.

 

My father has spoken about dining here when he worked with state road crews in the '70s. I stopped here once in college for a relative's birthday. However, I had more or less forgotten the place existed until I was trying to think of a fun place for Kelly and I to stop and eat on the way home from visiting my grandmother in Carrroll County following Six Flags America Preview Day. I'm glad I remembered it was there! The food was good and plentiful, even if the prices weren't as low as I remember from more than a decade ago.

 

Please forgive the black-and-white photography sprinkled throughout the report. The lighting was low in some areas, and the pictures would have been dark and orange had I not converted them. Enjoy!

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At some point, "Beef House" was changed to "Family Restaurant" on everything except the building itself. I suspect the Communists had something to do with it.

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The place started out as a butcher shop. You know, in case you were wondering why there's a bull on the roof.

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After standing in a long, but fast-moving line, you place your order, enjoy the complementary salad bar, then wait for them to call your name. From there, it's as simple as picking up your food from the counter.

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This restaurant is Dan Quayle approved!

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Bullock's has two dining rooms, both with model trains circling overhead.

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The salad bar is shaped like a chuck wagon!

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As one would expect at a restaurant with "Beef House" in its name, there isn't much real "salad" on the salad bar. My favorite item was the Giant Hunk O' Cheese. Basically, there's a steak knife on the cutting board, and you just lop off as little or as much as you want. Biting directly off the hunk is frowned upon.

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First item from the salad bar: chicken noodle soup. Chicken and noodles, of course, both being vegetables.

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Here's my "salad!" And yes, that is a piece of barbecued chicken. You know, from the salad bar.

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Unfortunately, we made the mistake of filling up on "salad," so by the time the real food was ready, we really weren't all that hungry anymore. I couldn't bring myself to go to a Beef House and not order a steak. It had a good flavor, but it was kind of tough. The western fries, on the other hand, were out of this world!

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At the suggestion of my uncle, who looked up the address for us when we couldn't get it to come up by name in our GPS, Kelly got the fried chicken. She said it was good, but because we were so stuffed, she ended up taking most of it home.

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Bullock's has lots of options for dessert. We chose the rice pudding and iced raisin bread that came with our meal... from the salad bar! Both were very good.

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For those with bigger appetites, cakes and pies of all kinds are sold whole and by the slice in the restaurant and at the adjoining butcher shop/bakery.

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And if that still doesn't cut it, they also have an in-house ice cream parlor!

 

Next up: Eastern Shore Virginia's best fried chicken (and this time I mean it)!

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  • 1 month later...

Has the "best fried chicken in Virginia" tease been up long enough? With a free afternoon today, I thought I'd finally make good on that promise, as well as feature a few more places I've dined in the past few weeks. Enjoy!

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This portion of the TR is dedicated to Esvadj, who correctly ascertained that the best fried chicken in all of Virginia can be found at Tammy and Johnny's in Melfa, VA.

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What, you didn't believe me? It's said that at one point there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Popeye's within a couple miles of T&J's, and this place put them both out of business. Apparently not having learned from this history, Bojangles has opened a restaurant RIGHT NEXT DOOR! Fair warning, Bojangles.

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And now, without further ado... this is what the best fried chicken in Virginia looks like! They've been serving it up hot and fresh since 1967.

 

And remember, every General's Nappy Meal comes with a free 40-ounce malt liquor! reference>

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The next day, I took a ride out on Maryland 404 to check out one of those restaurants I always seem to pass when it's closed: Hot Off the Coals Bar-B-Q in Queen Anne, MD. Check out the giant mutant chicken dancing with the pig and cow!

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This is where the Bar-B-Q magic happens!

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While this is likely to be the best pulled pork you'll have at a restaurant attached to a Shell station, I found it to be just OK, especially for the price. This on-the-small-side sandwich and Dixie cup of potato salad set me back nearly $10--and that was without a drink.

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So, you're probably asking yourself what a firehouse has to do with roadfood. Well...

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...it's across the street from the town's old firehouse, which has been transformed into a fire-themed restaurant, Station 7, in Pittsville, MD. I'd been there a few times, and the food was hit-and-miss. However, last year I met some friends for a quick lunch there and discovered the brisket sandwich--hands down the best brisket I've ever eaten! Kelly, Lauryn and I decided to stop here in early April on the way back from participating in a local Easter parade so I could relive the experience.

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The interior is chocked full of firefighting memorabilia, including lamps made from fire helmets representing regional fire companies, old brass fire extinguishers, retired fire hydrants, boots, jackets and key tags.

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The walls are adorned with fire department patches from around the country. The ones on this board are from Delaware.

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These axes represent those who have completed a certain feat at the bar--though I'm not entirely sure what that feat is. It has to do either with a certain drink or a certain quantity of drinks.

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And since this is a theme park website, I suppose this portion of the decor is at least somewhat on topic.

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Most of the menu items are named after firefighting terms or local firehouses. The Station 2 entree is named after the fire company in my hometown.

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Kelly opted for the bacon bleu cheese burger, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

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And there it is--the chopped brisket sandwich! Brisket is the most difficult barbecue meat to cook, and somehow Station 7 has managed to perfect it. The vinegar-based barbecue sauce in the little cup at the bottom is superfluous; the sandwich doesn't need it at all. I used it for dipping fries.

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The flames represent what your butt feels like after an order of Station 7's 5-Alarm Wings!

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Some time ago, I had read that Jake's Wayback Burger had been voted as having Delaware's best hamburgers. This was before Nage, of course... but I was still curious as to what a Jake's burger was like. I had no clue it was a regional chain... so imagine my surprise when a Jake's franchise opened up less than a mile from my apartment!

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This slightly blurry entry is the only souvenir that remains from that tasty, juicy burger, topped with pickles, fried onions and cheese. It reminded me a lot of a Five Guys burger.

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Kelly eschewed the classic burger for the special of the day, a Reuben burger. Yep, it's exactly what it sounds like, complete with a couple slices of corned beef for good measure.

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The next weekend brought an event I dream about all year long: Pork in the Park! As I've already covered the event's background in this thread, I won't rehash it here. This year brought two major corporate sponsors: Johnsonville Brats and Kingsford Charcoal. Johnsonville brought what is allegedly the world's largest grill, though to me it just looked like a big trailer carrying a lot of normal-sized grills.

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Note to Brandy: This is what a REAL barbecue competition looks like! This was the judges tent, which I had access to as a certified barbecue judge. If it looks huge... that's because it is! With some 140 entries, this is the world's second-largest Kansas City Barbeque Society cook-off.

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This is John, one of the KCBS reps who helped this contest get off the ground way back in 2004. He also ran the barbecue judging certification course I took in '07.

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There was plenty of barbecue for sale throughout the grounds--but none of it is ever as good as the stuff made for competiton.

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There are also plenty of vendors selling other types of food. This was one of my favorites from this year, though I think I was in the minority in liking it. Maybe I was just glad to finally have the chance to try some after I missed my opportunity at SCBB during the TPR West Coast Tour.

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Notice how the chocolate is salted after it's applied to the bacon. Because, you know, chocolate-covered bacon isn't unhealthy enough on its own.

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This was my other favorite vendor item this year. I apologize for the rain droplets on the lens. Unfortunately, this year's Pork in the Park was cold and rainy. It really took a bite out of our fundraising efforts.

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Mmmm... sugar-coated balls!

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One of our volunteers bought this to take home shortly before we had to shut down due to lightning. I have no idea how it tasted, but I thought our resident cupcake fans would appreciate the decor.

 

That's it for now. Stay tuned for seafood, bread pudding and some of the best pizza in the D.C. suburbs.

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Glad everyone is still enjoying my descent into fat(ter)ness. Here's more!

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For the first time ever, I skipped the final day of Pork in the Park this year and ventured out to Six Flags America for opening weekend. On the way back, we were planning to stop by Carraba's for dinner... but when we got there, not only was the parking lot full, but people were parked on the shoulder of the three-lane highway beside the restaurant, hopping the guard rail and standing in a line that literally wrapped halfway around the building. Carraba's is good... but no restaurant is THAT good! So instead we turned around, drove back about a half mile and pulled up to Rip's Country Inn in Bowie, MD, a restaurant Kelly's grandparents used to take her to when she was little.

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This place has some serious staying power for a restaurant. This is what it looked like when it opened.

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Noted!

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The interior decor is sparse and country.

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However, it's not what's on the walls that counts, but what's on the plate. Kelly and I both got the Chesapeake burger--that's a hamburger smothered with crab imperial--and it was amazing!

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Lauryn enjoyed her pizza, as well. She was impressed that the Parmesan cheese came out in a little cup instead of a shaker, so she could put it on with her fingers. Also, note the rolls off to the side. They and the muffins that accompanied them in the bread basket were great, too.

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I was too stuffed to order dessert, but Kelly wanted to try the bread pudding, which meant I ended up with about half of it anyway. It was good--the syrup reminded me of the sugar syrup used in Indian gulab jamun.

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Lauryn never met an ice cream she didn't like!

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If you eat too much, Rip's has its own hotel, too (as well as an in-house liquor store)!

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The next weekend, I ended up in Ocean City, MD, for a sports memorabilia show. Kelly wasn't interested in joining me, and Lauryn was at her father's house for spring break, so I traveled solo. On my way back, I decided to stop by Em-Ing's Broiled Foods in Bishopville, MD.

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Em-Ing's used to have an outlet in Salisbury, MD, and I ate there a couple times when I was in high school, so I kind of knew what to expect, but I had never been to Em-Ing's proper. This is where they cook the pig parts!

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I had to wait a little longer than I expected because it seemed like everyone in the region was there to pick up pies (Em-Ing's' second signature item after barbecue) for Easter. While I was tempted for a microsecond to try the chitterlings, as I had never seen them on any restaurant menu ever, common sense prevailed, and I got the pulled pork platter with "red" sauce (as opposed to vinegar-based), chips, a pickle and a slice of hearty bread pudding. It was the first relatively warm day of the season, which made sitting outside at Em-Ing's picnic benches especially appealing. Of course, it wouldn't have mattered either way--there are only two tables inside, and both were filled to capacity.

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The next weekend was the annual Salisbury Festival in Salisbury, MD, and I was once again out pouring beer with the Jaycees. This is traditionally the third-largest of our three annual fundraisers, though with the bad weather at Pork in the Park, it may get bumped up to second this year.

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While there, I sampled some of the fair fare, including this tasty (but way overpriced) soft crab sandwich.

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Kelly and I split an order of fried pickles. Too bad they didn't have anything to dip them in. I don't think ketchup would have tasted very good on them.

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Kelly got a "Chesapeake chicken" platter, which was basically two Sysco-brand chicken tenders and two marble-sized crab balls. She liked it, but I was kind of outraged that this $3 worth of food cost $10.

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After the festival, we headed toward Ocean City, MD, to stop in for part of a friend's birthday bar crawl. On the way, we stopped by The Globe in Berlin, MD, the restaurant where we had our first date.

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The Globe began its life as a live theatre venue before being converted into a movie theater that served the town for many years. Today, following another conversion, it's an upscale restaurant/art gallery. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether it's under new ownership or if the same owners just made the mistake of completely revamping the menu and raising the price of everything by about $5 because all of our favorite menu items were gone, gone, gone. I started with a cup of the soup of the day, ham and gouda, which was just OK.

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Kelly and I both got the Godfather burger, which sounded great on paper--a half-pound hamburger with garlic, pesto and jack cheese. Unfortunately, mine came on a bun that was slightly stale, and the whole thing kind of tasted like Styrofoam. The oven-baked tortilla chips (which come standard with most sandwiches at The Globe) were still good--but the Ranch dipping sauce I paid extra for was very clearly watered down from a multi-gallon industrial container and not the homemade-tasting ranch I used to get there.

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I'm not sure we'll be going back to The Globe again for awhile, but if there was one saving grace, it was this: M&M's-Snickers bread pudding! It was delightful, but so rich that we couldn't finish it all. In all, including tip and taxes, the bill came to $50--not great for two burgers, a cup of soup and a split dessert.

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By the time we caught up with the birthday girl, Jeanette, she and her entourage were at M.R. Ducks in Ocean City. We were beat from having participated in Salisbury Festival activities all day and stayed only a half hour, but it was good to see her. Not sure anything here counts as "roadfood," but for those who are curious, this is what M.R. Ducks looks like. Those decoys hanging above the bar are the serving vessles for some special drink. I don't remember what's in it, but I know the people who ordered it looked pretty ridiculous walking around sucking on a duck's beak... which I guess is the point?

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The next day, we picked Lauryn up from the airport at the end of her visitation with her father and drove straight to a restaurant Kelly has been telling me about for some time--the Italian Inn in Hyattsville, MD. This was another place her family used to dine when she was a kid.

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You know a pizza place is going to be good when the "A-OK" Italian chef from the pizza box gets his own spot on the roof!

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Scott, the New York pizza tour guy? Yeah, he would LOVE it here! This is literally some of the best Sicilian-style pizza I have ever eaten! They don't even bother with spatulas; that thing underneath the pizza is a serving spoon. The price is unbelievable--we got this medium pizza, a personal pizza for Lauryn, fries and drinks, and I don't think we broke $15. Yes, I did say that this is a medium--Kelly told me I didn't even want to know what the large looked like--and we ended up taking half of it home.

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The restaurant is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend checking it out!

 

Up next: Who knows? I'm all caught up for once! But there will be more food to come, I promise.

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Hey, my mom used to eat at Rips all the time as a teenager. It's good to know it is still holding up. One thing I love about this is that it reminds me of going to Myrtle Beach(well, technically it is Garden City Beach, but close enough) for some odd reason I can't put my finger on. Maybe it is because on the 7+ hour drive we pass alot of restaurants along the way. I don't know, I love this thread.

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Thanks for the positive feedback!

 

^Guy's personality doesn't grate on me the way it tends to for a lot of others, but I like him a lot better on "Minute to Win It" than on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." Part of the problem with that show is, you can only say so much about a cheeseburger, and you can only say it so many times before no one cares anymore.

 

That said, during a mini-road trip to Pennsylvania yesterday, we stopped by The Charcoal Pit in Wilmington, DE, which is a cheeseburger joint a lot of people tend to care about, so much so that we had to wait in line to get a seat. Enjoy!

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Founded in 1956, The Charcoal Pit now has three locations in the area. This is the original, on Concord Pike.

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Om nom nom!

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The decor inside is very "original '50s," not "fake '50s" like Johnny Rocket's, et. al. Plain and understated, yet with a vintage vibe. Each booth came equipped with a wall-mounted juke box updated with 21st century selections.

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It may sound odd, but I find something very appealing about non-chain restaurants that have paper cups printed with their logos. It's so much easier and cheaper just to use the ones with pre-printed designs from Coke, Pepsi or Dixie. It's almost a visual symbol that places like this go the extra mile.

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All three of us got cheeseburgers. Kelly got hers "deluxe," with lettuce, tomato and pickles. I stole a couple of her pickles; for whatever reason, it's all or nothing as far as toppings at The Charcoal Pit--and the "all" costs 20 cents extra. Ketchup and mustard were on the table to add as much or as little as you wanted. The mustard was spicy brown, which was nice, and the ketchup was in a glass bottle, not plastic like at so many restaurants today, which was kind of fun. The Cheez Whiz fries were good and the onion rings, which had a solid texture and a sweet taste, were great!

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The buns had a nice texture. The burgers themselves were not great, but good. I'd stop by again if I was in the neighborhood.

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Kelly and I debated ice cream--all the sundaes are named after local high school teams, and several of them sounded especially appealing--but we ultimately decided just to split an Almond Joy bought at the cashier's station. For Lauryn, however, we splurged an extra dollar on her kid's meal and added the clown sundae. I wish we all could have gotten one!

 

Up next: Yocco's Hot Dogs in beautiful downtown Fogelsville, PA!

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Those pictures of Rips brought back memories. They used to have a Rips where I grew up in Waldorf, MD, but I believe it closed a few years ago. I haven't eaten there for at least 10 years. Not that I actually remember how good the food was, but it brings back some good memories. The one in Waldorf had a sit-down restaurant and a fresh seafood market.

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^ I ate at the Rips in Waldorf when I lived there, but we always had horrible service and after finding a live centipede in one of our dishes, my family and I never went back.

 

This thread is definitely enjoyable. Seeing all the barbeque and pizza places makes me want to drool. I'm from a family that loves to sit around and watch the Food Network, so it's very entertaining to see lots of food.

 

If you're ever in the Philadelphia area, check out Charlie's Pizza on the Roosevelt Boulevard. It's a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but the pizza there is incredible (especially the spinach and fresh garlic).

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I have fallen a little behind on my "road food adventure" reading, and for that I apologize. Tammy's and Johnny's does have some great chicken. VA's Eastern Shore used to be scattered with these little drive in places - as the major franchises moved in, only Tammy's and Johnny's remained.

 

I went to Station 7 a couple of weeks ago for my first time. We were going to a Shorebirds game and someone had told us how good this place was. I had the prime rib and it was excellent. I got bad directions and it took me forever to get there, but it was worth it. I will be going back next time I'm up that way.

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  • 1 month later...

When last we left off with this thread, I had promised some photos from Yocco's in Foglesville, PA. Unfortunately, I realized I didn't actually take photos at Yocco's this time around, so you'll have to settle for some "retreads" from my visit there in 2009. I thought I had posted them somewhere on here in a trip report from that era, but I can't seem to find them, so maybe I didn't.

 

So if you've already seen these, I apologize. If not, enjoy! Oh, and it doesn't stop there. I'm including all my May-through-mid-June restaurants in this post in anticipation of a giant, mega, OMFG honeymoon Roadfood post to follow... when I get the chance to go through the photos.

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This funny-sounding restaurant got its name in a funny-sounding way. Apparently the owner of the original Yocco's was somehow related to Lee Iacocca. He wanted to cash in on Lee's fame, so he did it in a way that made the most sense locally. Apparently a lot of the area Pennsylvania Dutch had a hard time pronouncing "Iacocca," so they just called him "Yocco." Hence "Yocco's."

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Any restaurant with a giant hot dog wearing a football helmet behind its counter has to be good... right?

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Can't make it to Yocco's? They'll ship worldwide!

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I've been a big fan of this place since I accidentally stumbled upon it during a roadtrip about 10 years ago. My order never changes: two chili dogs, pierogis and a birch beer.

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I eat at the Back Street Grill in Salisbury, MD, at least once a month--it's the "official" unofficial post-meeting spot of the Jaycees, on whose board of directors I sit.

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This is my standing order: The Boss. It's basically a skirt steak sandwich with horseradish sauce, served with chips and a pickle. I usually end up sharing a giant order of hand-cut fries, as well.

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We went to Ocean City, MD, as part of Lauryn's birthday this year and ended up at the Mug and Mallet, where Kelly's best friend's sister works (and got us a discount).

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Everyone here starts out with a bucket of complimentary Old Bay popcorn... not bad!

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This was a new one on me! This is a claw machine with a lobster tank where the stuffed animals usually would go. You insert $5, and if you catch a lobster with the claw, the restaurant will boil it for you. It's like the Santa Claw for the seafood lover in you!

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Instead of taking that gamble, Kelly and I both went with the Chesapeake burger. Unlike most simliarly named burgers, which feature a dollop of crab imperial on top, this one was a hamburger topped with a fried crab cake. It was pretty good.

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Hooray for the Mug and Mallet!

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The next day, I drove my mom up to Hampstead, MD, to visit with my grandmother, who recently was diagnosed with dementia. It was a bittersweet visit, capped with a trip down the street to Genova's Restaurant.

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We were between traditional meal times, so the place was virtually deserted. It had a nice atmosphere.

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These complimentary garlic knots were pretty good!

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My mom and I weren't quite hungry yet, so we didn't order much. My French onion soup was really good, though.

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In the end, we decided to split a chocolate chip cannoli. It was decadent!

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I've posted about the Delmarva Chicken Festival on here before. It's basically a celebration of all things chicken, held in a different town on the Delmarva Peninsula each year. This year it was in Georgetown, DE, just a few miles away from our apartment, so we couldn't not go. They boast the world's largest frying pan, seen here.

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Here's the result of that pan. This was Lauryn's last weekend in town before going on her annual two-month summer visitation with her father, so we made a day out of the festival and other activities. If I have time, I'll post some photos of the ghetto carnival we bought tickets for that day. It was magnificently horrible!

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We ended our adventure that evening with a stop at the Rehoboth Diner in Rehoboth, DE, which one of Kelly's co-workers highly recommended.

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I thought it was hillarious that the "Big Bird" was beef instead of poultry. And do kids today even know who Flipper is? Or Wimpy, for that matter?

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My dinner came with a choice of soup or salad. I got the chicken noodle soup, which wasn't bad.

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The prime rib was excellent!

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Kelly gave her chicken Parmigiana high marks.

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And I think this just about says all there is to say about the "Snoopy"!

 

Up next: Honeymoon-a-rama!

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When Kelly and I first started talking about honeymoon plans way back in winter 2010, we zeroed in on a two-week Mediterranean cruise that stopped at a number of places we both have long been interested in visiting, including most of the major tourist spots in Italy. Unfortunately, she lost her job a few months later when her company downsized, and she wasn't able to build up vacation time at her new job quickly enough for us to make that a reality.

 

We weighed a number of other options, including an Alaskan cruise (which she also didn't have enough time for), a Hawaiian vacation (too expensive), Walt Disney World (too hot in the summer, and we're thinking about taking her daughter back there again next year anyway), the California coast (I was just there with TPR two years ago) and Las Vegas (another area I've been within the past few years). Finally, in trying to come up with a place I hadn't already been and she wanted to go (a short list, to be sure), we started thinking about New England. I spent some time there a number of years ago, and we even did our own mini-trip to Connecticut and Massachusetts a couple years ago, but neither of us had been to New Hampshire or Maine.

 

So it was settled. Next, it was up to me to go on my favorite websites and come up with an itenerary for us. I'll get to the amusement parks and other attractions in other posts. As for the food... it was magnificent, and you're invited to come along on the photo journey. Enjoy!

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Our dining adventures actually began the first night with cheesesteaks at Pat's and Geno's in Philadelphia. But since I've covered them before on TPR, I'm jumping right in to Day Two, which began on Wooster Street in New Haven, CT. That can only mean...

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Pizza! We parked in front of Sally's, but opted to take a quick walk down the street to their main competitor...

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Frank Pepe Pizzeria!

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I've come to the conclusion that all you need to do to succeed in business is to have your business featured on a reality show. Frank Pepe's has been lauded on the Travel Channel and Food Network, so it must be good, right? To be honest, we considered turning around and walking back to Sally's, as we were pushing to stay on schedule. Fortunately, the line moved quickly.

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For those who kept track on the Scott's Pizza Tour update, this is a coal-fired oven. That equals pizza goodness!

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Kelly got one of the house specialties, a spinach, garlic and gorgonzola pie. I opted for the pizza that came most recommended by Roadfood experts Jane and Michael Stern: white clam and garlic. It was amazing!

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Because we had several stops planned for the day before reaching our hotel, I knew the pizza wouldn't hold up in the hot car, so I forced myself to eat the last couple pieces. Kelly had them box up about half of hers, and we ultimately ended up throwing it away the next day. I almost cried.

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We got in and out of Frank Pepe's so quickly that we had a few minutes to stop by Libby's Italian Pastry Shop next door.

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We picked up a bag of anginetts (Italian Munchkins), which were just OK.

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These almond macaroons, however, were some of the best things I've ever tasted, period. Seriously, Nabisco should be ashamed to call anything they make a "cookie" when compared to stuff like this.

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Unfortunately, we got slightly lost on the way to our next desitnation, Kane's Donuts in Saugus, MA, and I was deathly afraid we were going to miss it. After taking a scenic detour along the Charles River in the heart of Boston, we made it seven minutes before closing! Unfortunately, by the time I got back outside to take a picture, they had turned off all of the cool lights on the sign.

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This place apparently had been featured on the Food Network, as well, though I haven't seen the show it's associated with. I read online that their doughnuts have been rated among the top 10 in the nation, though I thought they were just OK, for the most part. The creme brulee doughnut (front row, center) was unique, but I liked the apple cider doughnuts (on either side of the creme brulee) the best.

 

The guy behind the counter (whom I suspect was the owner) was incredibly nice and chatted with us for a few minutes about where we were from and where we were headed. When we told him where we were staying for the next few days, he recommended a dine-in movie theater in that area that we resolved to check out.

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Up next was a stop at Salem Willows, NH. This was kind of an old-fashioned boardwalk area without an actual boardwalk. This ancient-looking stand is home to E.W. Hobbs, whose founders, it is claimed, introduced the ice cream cone to the United States. However, since that is purported to have happened in 1906, and the ice cream cone itself is said to have been invented in the United States at the 1904 World's Fair, the claim is fairly dubious.

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However, E.W. Hobbs does have another claim to fame: Its popcorn is consistently voted the best in New England.

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It was really good!

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They also sold popcorn bars, which was a new concept to me. Basically, they're oversized Rice Krispie treats made out of crushed popcorn instead of cereal and coated with flavored powdered sugar. We got the chocolate one, which was kind of meh, but it was worth a buck to try.

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We had been going full speed all day, and it started to catch up with us by the time we made it back to Saugus for a late dinner at Kowloon. Fortunately, this place has a vibe so exciting, it was impossible to stay tired for too long.

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This 1,200-seat Polynesian restaurant is divided into multiple sections. We had a great view in the Fountain Room.

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Next door, a live band was rocking out in the Volcano Room.

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It took hardly any time at all for our food to arrive. This was the Pu Pu platter of the gods! Seriously, this was so large, we almost made ourselves sick trying to finish it... and failed. Apparently, this is the go-to dish at Kowloon; nearly every table we saw had one.

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I had read that their Pu Pu platters were fairly large, so I didn't get an entree, opting instead for just a side of ham-fried rice (which I'd never heard of before). When they brought it out, it came in a tureen the size of a mixing bowl!

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Kelly did get an entree, and her pineapple chicken curry was the hit of a meal that had already eclipsed "amazing." If you're ever in the Boston area, I can't recommend this restaurant enough.

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Noted!

 

And that about does it for Day Two. Up next: the Godzilla burger!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Time for another honeymoon roadfood update. Enjoy!

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We had park food at Canobie Lake for lunch on day three, but we returned to our hotel in Massachusetts for dinner. Remember that dine-in theater we learned about at Kane's Donuts? Turns out it was pretty easy to find--it shared a parking lot with our hotel!

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Chunky's may not look like much on the outside... but inside was a whole 'nother story.

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All the seats were refurbished from Lincoln Towncars and set on wheels.

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Instead of being lined up like traditional theater seats, they were stationed around long, cafeteria-style tables for patrons' dining convenience.

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Our waitress was so impressed that we chose Chunky's as our honeymoon destination that she asked if we wanted her to take our picture. Of course, we obliged. Now I know how Big Mike feels when he's around the papparazzi!

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We saw "Cars 2," but the real star of the experience was my Godzilla burger. That's an 8-ounce burger with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, bacon, ham and turkey, served on a kaiser roll with fries and a pickle. Kelly said her chicken Parmigiana sandwich was good, too... but hello? Godzilla burger!

 

The other thing I thought was neat about Chunky's was that the bill came on a glow-in-the-dark tray so you could read it while the movie was playing.

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Back at the hotel, Kelly and I ended the evening by dining on leftover almond macaroons and drinking our wedding champagne out of plastic Best Western cups.

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Lunch the next day consisted of more park food, this time from Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, NH. By the time we got to our hotel in Franconia Notch around 7 p.m., most of the restaurants in the immediate area were closed. After some random driving back in the direction of Lincoln, we ended up at Truant's Taverne.

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It turned out to be a fortunate stop. Aside from a hot dog (for me) and lobster roll (for Kelly) at Clark's, we literally hadn't eaten anything all day. We started with the spinach and artichoke dip appetizer. Maybe it was just because we were so hungry, but this tasted wonderful.

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Harkening back to the TPR UK Trip, I ordered the fish and chips. These were amazing! It's hard to tell in this photo, but each of those four pieces was a whole haddock fillet. I ate two, gave Kelly half of one, finished the fries and had several slices of fresh-baked bread before surrendering.

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My first instinct, however, had been to not get the fish at all, but instead to try the special of the day, beef Stroganoff. Because Kelly wanted to get that, too, we agreed that she would let me try some. It was great--though I thought the fish was better. Kelly ate about half of it before she, too, threw in the towel.

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However, there was a method to Kelly's Stroganoff-leaving madness, and that method was to insist we visit the ice cream stand next door before leaving.

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Stuffed as I was, the place was having a buy one, get one free special (we found that at several ice cream shops in this area), so I ended up with a pistachio cone that ended up partially going to waste. This cone represents probably about a quart's worth of soft serve.

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The main reason we lingered in Franconia Notch that evening instead of driving the extra hour and a half to Maine was the town's proximity to Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH.

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If you don't finish your pancakes, you wake up with this guy in your bed!

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It may not look like much on the inside...

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...but this James Beard Foundation Award promised otherwise! In fact, Polly's is pretty universally listed as one of the top 10 (often even top five) roadfood destinations in the United States.

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Much of the restaurant's appeal comes from its variety of pancake toppings. On this tray we have pure maple syrup, raw maple brown sugar and Polly's unique maple spread, available in the gift shop for about $10 a jar.

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They even have maple pepper! We tried a little of this on Kelly's eggs. It delivers a quick hit of sweetness, then basically burns the crap out of your mouth for the next couple minutes.

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At long last, my first plate of pancakes arrived. Polly's serves them in orders of six, and the wait staff brings out only three at a time so the second half don't get cold while you're working on the first. When you order, you get to choose not only what flavor pancakes you want, but what batter style, as well. Kelly tried and really like the daily special, which was pineapple.

 

I got the buttermilk blueberry, buckwheat walnut and cornmeal coconut. The blueberry was OK. I didn't really care that much for the walnut, but I think that was more because of the buckwheat batter than anything else. The coconut pancakes were outstanding, and I would stand in line to eat them again!

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On my second batch, I tried Polly's fabled "hurricane sauce." This is basically thinly sliced apples boiled in pure maple syrup. The name came about following a hurricane that struck the area, causing a massive number of apples to fall from trees on farms surrounding the restaurant. The owner basically was offered all the fallen apples he could haul, so he took them--then he had to figure out what in the world to do with them. After some experimenting, he came up with "hurricane sauce," which remains a staple at the eatery to this day. It was good--but not as good as I thought it would be.

 

That kind of sums up Polly's for me, as well. The coconut pancakes were tremendous, but everything else was just... pancakes. I wouldn't go out of my way to dine here again, but based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews it's received elsewhere, I'm probably in the minority.

 

Up next: Lobster madness!

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A few hours after our visit to Polly's Pancake Parlor, we officially made it to Old Orchard Beach, ME, where we spent the majority of our honeymoon. After checking into to our motel--which, unfortunately, turned out to be less than stellar (when the website said "daily maid service," we had no idea that meant "maid service one day a year")--we began the official "lobster tour" portion of the trip. Enjoy!

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For our first official meal in Maine, we headed out to Cape Elizabeth to check out the Lobster Shack.

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For a restaurant with "shack" in its name, this place was much less shack-like than a few others we visited.

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There was indoor seating available, but no one in their right mind would have dined in there when this was right outside.

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Check out the view from our table!

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Supposedly, there are two lighthouses visible from the restaurant, but this is the only one I could find.

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The Lobster Shack is a "place your order and wait for your number" kind of joint. When our number was called, this is what awaited: succulent fried whole-belly clams and Maine's best lobster roll (that's an inside joke--every lobster roll we had allegedly was voted Maine's best by some magazine, newspaper, TV show or website).

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As great as that food was, it didn't hold a candle to dessert: Grape-Nuts pudding and Maine blueberry pie. For the uninitiated, Grape-Nuts, for whatever reason, are tremendously popular in Maine. The pudding resembled a loose bread pudding, only made with cereal. If I had to choose which of these dishes was the best... I don't think I could.

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We didn't eat at any of the Amato's restaurants in the area, but we did get a good laugh from this sign. Way to go, French fries!

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Between our huge breakfast and more-than-sensible lunch, we weren't really hungry until much later. Good thing for us the Portland Pie Company in Portland, ME, stayed open late.

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One of our friends recently got Kelly interested in sampling new kinds of beer, so she opted to start with a flight of Maine brews. Her favorite was the blueberry beer. The funny thing is, she's not much of a drinker, so though she was happy to taste each one, I'm not sure she actually drank enough to constitute a single serving.

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The main reason we went to the Portland Pie Company was to try their Red Claws Pie. This is basically a white pizza with a three-cheese blend and lobster meat, drizzled with drawn butter. And with those ingredients, how could it have been anything less than outstanding?

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The next morning, we started the day at Becky's Diner in Portland. This place came highly recommended not only online, but by a couple friends of ours who visited last year.

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Our friends warned us that we likely would have to wait for a seat, and we did, for about half an hour. Parking also was really funky. Instead of parking spaces, they had parking lanes, which meant everyone had to double and triple park. So basically every few minutes, they would send a waitress through the restaurant asking if someone with license plate such-and-such could please move their vehicle. That person would have to abandon their breakfast, move the vehicle, wait for the other car to leave, then pull up another spot in the lane. Then by the time they were done eating, someone had blocked them in, and the process began anew.

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Three things we learned on this trip:

1. At some point or other, Guy Fieri has featured about 90 percent of all restaurants in Maine on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

2. If a restaurant has been featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," you can expect at least a 30-minute wait before getting a table.

3. Guy Fieri wields way too much power.

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I have no idea what Guy ate here, but Kelly ate ham, eggs, homefries and an English muffin.

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In nearly all reviews I read, the homefries came highly recommended. I ordered mine covered with cheese (looks like Kraft Singles to me). I have no idea what people see in these things. Besides the cheese, they were bland as Styrofoam .

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Based on online recommendations, I ordered the peanut butter and bacon sandwich on Italian toast. Apparently it's an "after 11 a.m." item, but since bacon and toast are on the breakfast menu and peanut butter isn't too hard to scoop out of a jar, they made it for me anyway, which I appreciated. Sadly, it was almost as bland as the homefries. I think it probably would have been better had the sandwich contained more than .0005 ounces of bacon.

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We unexpectedly received some bad news that afternoon that kind of put a damper on the rest of the day, and we ended up back at the hotel for a little while. While Kelly took a nap, I went for a walk down to what would be considered Old Orchard's "boardwalk" area, sans an actual boardwalk. She had mentioned the day before that she wanted to try some French fries from this stand at some point, so I got some to take back in hopes of cheering her up a little.

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Of course, like Forrest bringing chocolates to Jenny, "I ate some." They were good covered with salt and vinegar, but they'll never beat our local Thrasher's.

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That evening, we headed down to Kennebunkport to check out the Clam Shack, which, surprisingly, is as well known for its lobster rolls as it is for its clams.

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Less surprisingly, they have Maine's best lobster rolls!

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This is what $17 worth of lobster looks like. Unlike the one at the Lobster Shack, which was made with a traditional mayonnaise base, this was a "hot" lobster roll, meaning it consisted only of bread, lobster meat and drawn butter. And sometimes, that's plenty!

 

Up next: more lobster and... a meatloaf panini?

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  • 5 months later...

Wow, it’s been awhile since I last had the time to update this thread. The good news is, I’ve been eating at (and photographing) plenty of amazing restaurants since then. So let’s continue, shall we?

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We started our next morning at the Standard Baking Co. in downtown Portland, ME.

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The Morning Bun came highly recommended on several websites, and rightfully so. It’s difficult to tell from this photo, but the pastry had a croissant-like consistency rather than the cake-like density of most cinnamon buns. The caramel and pecans on top perfectly complemented the buttery, flaky roll.

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Standard Baking’s gingerbread also was recommended in some online reviews. It was good, but paled in comparison to the Morning Bun.

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We went antiquing that morning and ended up at Len Libby Chocolates in Scarborough, ME, during our travels.

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For the uninitiated, Len Libby is home to the world’s largest (and maybe only?) chocolate moose, Lenny, weighing in at more than 1,700 pounds of lusciously sculpted milk chocolate.

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New to the display this year were three sculpted dark chocolate Maine black bears: Libby, weighing in at 380 pounds, and her cubs, Cocoa and Chip, barely tipping the scale at just 80 pounds each.

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I don’t remember what our rationale was at the time, but we decided it was a good idea to have dessert before lunch on this particular day and took advantage of the shop’s two-for-one ice cream cone deal. Mine was caramel pecan ripple.

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From there, it was on to our lunch stop, Duckfat, back in Portland.

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The seating area was microscopic, and to be honest, I was really surprised we didn’t have to wait. We ended up seated on a ledge against the wall, complete with magnetic poetry to help pass the time. Good thing because the service was sloooooow.

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A sampling of Kelly’s phat rhymes.

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Per the recommendation of just about every website that reviewed this restaurant, we started with an order of duckfat fries. We had a choice of sauces, though I don’t recall exactly what we picked. I know one had something to do with garlic aioli, and I think the other might have been a dill mustard? Either way, the fries were just so-so, and the mint-hyssop soda on the left tasted exactly like carbonated pickle juice! I was very glad to have found a hair in it (and no, it wasn’t planted) so we had an excuse to return it and ask that it be removed from the bill.

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Again at the behest of reviewers, I got the meatloaf Panini, which was… OK. Overall, Duckfat was the dining disappointment of the trip, followed closely by Becky’s Diner.

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It was back to Kennebunkport that evening for an event we had been planning for a long time: our big Maine lobster dinner at Mabel’s Lobster Claw!

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We were careful not to fill up on bread, though I will say that the blueberry bread at left was phenomenal. They sold it packaged by the loaf, as well.

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The clam chowder was good, as well.

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The salad was kind of “meh,” but I’ve only had maybe three salads in my life that weren’t, so I’m probably not the best judge

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Finally, the piece de resistance! This was the most tender, best-tasting lobster I’ve ever eaten! I didn’t care much for the steamed clams, however. Too gritty for my taste.

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Time to get crackin’! Unfortunately, our experience at Mabel’s was tarnished when, several days later, we learned that they had overcharged the Visa gift card we had received as a wedding gift and saved specifically for the lobster dinner. Not only that, but they somehow demagnetized the strip on the back so we were unable to use what little did remain later in the trip. A call to the card company got us back the overcharged amount, but the demagnetization was still an issue until we found someplace willing to go the extra step of calling in the number on the card instead of just swiping it and telling us it was no good. This is one of the many reasons I despise gift cards.

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