Friday, June 13, 2008

Tales from the road: The Brothers Family Restaurant

Ok, I've eaten way more fast food on this trip than I had originally intended. I had promised myself that I would only stop at little local places with character so that I could soak in Americana and have as many experiences as possible. However, what has happened more often than not is that I've been kinda tired and somewhat rushed, and have given into Arby's and Wendy's cravings much more easily than I would ever do in real life.

I even tried to tell myself the other day that this is the way it should be. I mean, I was making this journey to really get in touch with America, right? Well, most Americans eat a shit-ton of fast food. There.

But, the other day on my way from Chicago to Des Moines, I did myself proud and stopped in Rapids City, Illinois for lunch at the Brothers Family Restaurant. The tiny diner-like establishment boasted a whopping 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream - how could I pass it by?

I settled in at the counter. Was I just imagining it, or were the people at the tables eying me - curious about the un-regular in their midst? I scanned the menu as a middle-aged waitress with short, permed hair and a friendly demeanor handed me a water.

"Breakfast all day?" I asked.

"Yep," she replied with a smile. "And they know eggs here." I grinned.

Eventually, though, I settled on just a regular cheeseburger and fries, and scanned the dessert menu while I waited for my food. I chatted for a few minutes with another waitress. Her son used to live in Des Moines, and it she said it was about three hours away. Well, two and a half if you drove like her son, and three and a half if you drove like her, she clarified.

My food came up quickly, and by then a couple of people had joined me at the counter. One was a pretty, olive-skinned woman who was chatted with the employees warmly about the horses she was training, and the other was a man who read a newspaper while he ate his soup. My burger wasn't anything spectacular, but I enjoyed it. The lettuce and tomato were fresh, and the fries were crispy. I dipped them in my customary yellow mustard, and nibbled them happliy.

The whole time I'd been there, I'd been contemplating dessert. They had a rather large rotating dessert refrigerator adjacent to the counter, and the several different kind of pies looked gorgeous. My FFF has totally gotten it into my mind that homemade desserts are to be revered, so when the waitress cleared my plate and asked if I wanted anything else, with her hand poised to rip my check off of her pad, I had only one question -

"That depends - are the pies homemade?"

"Yes, ma'am," she said with a smile.

"Rats. I was hoping you'd say that Mrs. Smith made them. Now I'm going to have to have a piece."

The apple caramel cheesecake that she put in front of me was to die for. Creamy and light, with lots of extra caramel sauce and bits of cooked apple peppered throughout, I ate it more slowly than I did my burger.

When I was done, I paid my check with the owner up front and quietly left, hurrying back to my car as if I had been missing the road for the forty-five minutes that I'd been off of it, taking with me a sickly full stomach, and a little smile.


Anonymous FFF said...

I'm so glad to see you are heeding my words of dessert wisdom. Apple caramel cheesecake? Dammit, I want some now!

7:19 AM  

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