I’ve written before about the fact that I like to find local places to eat as much as possible when we travel. This can take some work and planning, especially when we’re just spending one night in a hotel near the turnpike like we did on this trip. It would certainly have been easy just to swing by the McDonald’s, whose drive up window was right outside the windows of the pool. But thanks to Google, I had come prepared and so we made the five-minute drive to the Midway Oh Boy Restaurant, which is located in Elyria, Ohio, just minutes from exit 145 off of both Routes 80 and 90.
This is a true old-fashioned diner, one that’s been around since 1953. I suspect that little has changed on the menu there since its opening: Oh Boy burgers, open-faced roast-beef sandwiches with gravy, cabbage rolls (but only on Tuesday nights), and a “Dieter’s Delight” consisting of 5 ounces of chopped sirloin, cottage cheese, and Jell-o. The menu also offers cups of ranch dressing as a side “for dipping,” although I’m not sure why this is necessary since almost everything comes slathered with Oh-Boy sauce, a mayonnaise-y concoction that is enormously addictive and makes everything it touches taste better.
When we arrived the sunny and immaculate dining room was bustling. It’s a seat-yourself joint, so we slid into a booth. The boys were fascinated by the little jukebox on our table. It took a while for the waitress to get to us, but we didn’t mind – it felt like benign neglect since she was smiling every time she walked past.
We all started out with milkshakes, which in addition to the more prosaic flavors of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, came in pineapple, root beer, and caramel. The pineapple had actual pieces of fruit in it and was very refreshing and the root beer had all the virtues of both milkshake and an ice-cream float rolled into one. This was followed with a round of Oh Boy burgers, fries, onion rings, and deep-fried cheddar cheese balls which Teddy demolished. While we were eating Matt and I debated how the sauerkraut balls that were listed as a side on the menu came prepared; he thought cold with cottage cheese; I was convinced they were cooked in the fry-o-lator. When our friendly waitress (whose name is Holly) came back to clear our plates she confirmed that I was right: the sauerkraut is mixed with ham, shaped into a ball about the size of a large marble, breaded, and then fried. Matt’s eyes lit up, but then his face fell, “I can’t believe I didn’t order them!” he said. “Well, why not have them for dessert?” was Holly’s wise response. And so he did.
Tommy and I took a more traditional route and decided we had to try to coconut cream pie, which was not made on the premises but came from a local bakery. It was delicious.
Obviously we didn’t eat a healthier meal than we would have at a fast food or chain restaurant (and since we were on vacation, I didn’t really care). But we did support a local business in an economically depressed area. And we got to make a new friend in the person of Holly, who cheerfully posed for a photo with the boys and told us that if we were staying another day we would really enjoy the local fish-fry festival scheduled for the next afternoon. I prefer this to the anonymous experience of eating in a chain, and I think the kids did too.
Please note that Monday Dreaming posts will be back once I return from vacation on July 6th – I don’t need to dream when I’m on the road!