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Archive for the ‘Retro Dining’ Category

Once you see my photo of the renowned Hot Brown Sandwich at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY you will know why we HAD to stop here for lunch en route to Cincinnati. Does the word NOM come to mind? nom!

Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

We were on a deadline to get to The American Sign Museum and had but a scant few minutes to race through the Brown Hotel, and did a quick race around to snap some photos.But in that short time we knew that this was a place we’d love to stay, so on the map it goes!

Built in 1923, closed in 1971, restored and reopened in the early 1980’s, the Brown is on the National Register of Historic places.

Entering the empty lobby and hearing the disembodied sounds of piano music coming from an un-manned grand piano, we thought we perhaps had slipped back into a ghost-decade of the hotel’s historic past. AKA The Best Feeling Ever.

Lobby and Piano The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

The opulent two-story lobby has a hand-painted, coffered ceiling, Bottocino marble flooring, finely carved mahogany furnishings and Palladian-style windows. The Georgian-Revival style exterior is trimmed in stone and terra cotta. The Brown Hotel’s ornate hand-painted plaster relief ceilings, intricately carved railings, decorative crown molding, and other classic architectural details make her one of the finest hotels in the South.

Here’s Retro Roadhusband being tres elegante in one of the many pieces of period furniture in the lobby.

RetroRoadhusband in the Big Chair At The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

A big Thank You goes out to the swell lady behind the counter, who instead of chasing us meddling kids away, gave us brochures about the history of the hotel – and their famous sandwich – and encouraged us to check out some of the rooms on the floor above.

I loved the empty, yet still wallpapered booths that once held payphones. Young readers may not remember pay phones, or The New Yorker Cartoons that illustrate the wallpaper, but they’re both wonderful evidence of the history and longevity of the hotel.
Empty Pay Phone Booths The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

But enough about architecture, wallpaper and payphones, says Retro Roadhusband – let’s get one of those SANDWICHES!!!!
RetroRoadhusband Says Lets EAT! The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

(You can see additional of the great details of The Brown Hotel here at the Photo Gallery link on their website, which includes a number of 360 Virtual Tours.)

Thanks to the great folks at the Roadfood.com “Where Should I Eat?” forum, we knew that the Hot Brown was a not miss delicacy on our breakneck trek through Louisville.

Butter + heavy cream + Romano cheese + roasted turkey breast + bacon + omatoes + texas toast +salt & pepper = NOM!

Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

(This totally reminds me of a little something my dear, great-aunt Agga would assemble in her small apartment kitchen when I’d come over to help her organize her stuff. Wonderful memory and wonderful tasty food.)

Here’s the history of this treat From The Brown Hotel’s description of their signature sandwich:

In the 1920’s, The Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Diners were growing rapidly bored with the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests’ palates. His unique creation was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce.

The sandwich was rich and delicious, and while we tried to be healthy/frugal and ordered one to share (along with a salad) I totally wish we had indulged and gotten one for each of us. The Brown gives the recipe for this Hot Brown delicacy on their website, so once the weather cools, we may try to recreate them at home.

While this was too short of a visit to truly absorb the wonderfulness of The Brown Hotel and their killer lunch, hopefully we’ve shown you enough to encorage you to visit when you’re in Louisville yourself!

Brown Hotel & Famous Hot Brown Sandwich
335 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 583-1234

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We drove from Austin, TX to Memphis, TN in record time, just so we could partake of the world famous fried chicken at Gus’s. If that isn’t a carrot (chicken leg) dangling in front of you to make you step on the gas I don’t know what is!

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken Sign (more…)

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It was a happy coincidence that the Mayflower cafe – oldest restaurant in the capital of Missisippi (Since 1935) was just 2 blocks from our hotel, so we hoofed it over there on a bright sunny morning and had an early lunch of some tasty seafood in this vintage restaurant.
Mayflower Cafe Sign and Exterior

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Though we were not dressed to fit in with the church crowd, we absolutely loved our Sunday dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta GA. Since 1945 folks in these parts have enjoyed the southern cooking and hospitality at this landmark restaurant. And so did we!

Mary Mac's Tea Room Neon Sign Atlanta GA(Their cool neon sign didn’t hurt their chances of making it on the RetroRoadmap either!)

I was excited to visit Mary Macs as I have loved most “southern cookin'” that I’ve had (mmm biscuits, nom) and it was a good opportunity for me to try some of the more unusual things that you don’t get at restaurants up north. And the “Tea Room” name? According to their website:

Mary Mac’s Tea Room doors first opened in 1945 when Mary McKenzie decided to use her good Southern cooking to make money in the tough post-World War II days. In those days, a woman  couldn’t just open up a restaurant, so many female proprietors used the more genteel Southern name of “Tea Room.”

Mary Mac's Tea Room Midtown Atlanta 1945

The restaurant is no longer owned by Mary Mac (was she all dressed in black? With silver buttons down her back?) but is flourishing under the ownership of  John Ferrell who was hand picked by the last owner to take over the business. And by the crowds we encountered he’s doing it right!

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One of the best breakfasts we had on our Retro Road Trip was at The Silver Skillet in Atlanta GA. Homemade biscuits and country ham now, please!

The Silver Skillet Atlanta GA Restaurant Exterior

Opened in 1956 and purchased in 1967 by George Decker, the restaurant is still family owned and operated by his daughter Teresa and her husband Jeff. Here’s a photo of what the Silver Skillet looked like some years ago from Flickr pal Julie Wilson.

As you can see from our photo below they have not really changed the decor in all those years – which is a wise move! Not only because it’s RetroRoadmap Worthy but their “period decor” has made them a location for movies, commercials, videos, and print ads.

Dining Room Silver Skillet Atlanta GAWe had no idea we were in the midst of such fame when we sat down at our boomerang Formica table, but later learned that Diners Drive-ins and Dives had stopped by the Silver Skillet to sample their biscuits and country ham (two of my fave things!) –

You can even see glimpses of our seasoned and sassy waitress in the DDD video – I swear she called RetroRoadhusband hon, sweetie, darling more than I do! Ah, those Southern belles.

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In the early days of RetroRoadmap’s Twitter account I was looking for cool and vintage places that might be using Twitter to promote their business. There were hardly any but when I saw  the vintage root beer sign of the LaPlace Frostop’s Twitter icon I followed them immediately and we’ve exchanged friendly messages ever since.

So, following the lure of their rotating neon root beer mug we headed south and were tickled to meet Frostop owners Jim and Terry Toler in person on our recent retro road trip.

Seriously, wouldn’t you want to check out this sign for yourself? Here’s the video I shot of it as soon as we got there- yes I was “wicked psyched”!

We made the right decision in “tweeting” ahead to see what time the Frostop closes, and barreled down the highway from Mississippi to get there before their 6pm closing time. When we rolled into their parking lot we were relieved to see that there were plenty of cars in the parking lot, and as soon as we went inside the restaurant we were given a friendly greeting from owner Jim and his daughter Terry, who is using her marketing degree and social media expertise to get the word out about the restaurant. As you can see from our experience, it totally worked! So glad to see modern advances can help drive business to a vintage destination.

Terry Toler of La Place Frostop Take 2

The friendliest of folks you’d ever want to meet, they chatted with us while gathering together a large order placed by a production company filming a TV episode of Memphis Beat across the street (click here to read the Frostop’s blog entry about THEIR appearance on Memphis Beat last summer and a recent photo shoot at the restaurant for the show as well!).

As we alternately chatted and tried to decide what to eat, we learned from Jim that the Frostop had been around since 1958. Originally owned by his father-in-law, Jim bought it in 1973, and he and Terry currently run the restaurant. Though at one time there were numerous Frostop locations dotting the south and midwest, there are only a handful of them left today. And the pronunciation of their town is “la plass”. Noted!

Vintage Frostop Root Beer Barrel

As you can see from the menus posted on the windows, the Frostop has a huge selection of items to order. Since we knew we were short on time we asked the Tolers what their best sellers were, and found out that they are famous for their root beer and their Lot-O-Burgers. Yes please! Since we were just half an hour north of Louisiana, I opted to get a shrimp po-boy, and RetroRoadhusband pretended to be healthy and also ordered a green salad with their Honey Gold dressing. Can you tell we were famished from our drive?!

While RetroRoadhusband sat at our table inside, I wandered around to take some photos in the glorious warm sunlight.

This cute little boy was getting a couple of bags of potato chips from the window service out front:

Window Service at The Frostop

And as I turned the corner I saw my arch enemy lurking in the shadows:

Vintage Scale at La Place FrostopDamn you, vintage scale! Don’t you know I’m on vacation and calories don’t count (and I’m not counting calories?!)

I was pleased to hear our number called out, so I returned inside and in moments our table was laden with more food than we realized we ordered! Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs in this case, but I dug into, and dug, my sandwich immediately. RetroRoadhusband gave his his Lot-O-Cheeseburger with Lettuce, Tomato, Mustard,Mayo,Pickle,Onion the thumbs up and ate most of his salad with the dressing.

And this is a cool detail that I was surprised but pleased to see – since we were eating in the dining room we had real plates and silverware, not more trash producing disposables. Very retro and very green at the same time.

Lot-O- CheeseBurger and Shrimp Po Boy La Place Frostop

Two menu items that deserve special highlighting are the delicious and icy root beer, served in oversized frosted mugs, and the homemade onion rings.

Homemade Onion Rings and A Frosty Mug of Root Beer YUM!
I am telling you, I don’t know what it is, but these were the most tasty onion rings I have had in ages. Sweet onions, light and crispy coating, not too greasy, but greasy enough to be flavorful, I was stuffed when we left because I refused to leave any of those onion wonders on the plate. It’s probably good for my waistline that I didn’t buy a bag of their onion ring breading, but it’s good to know I can order it, if the memory of those onion rings comes back to haunt me. But alas it was time for us to get on the road again, so we left with some souvenirs and not an inch in our tummies for their ice cream treats.

La Place Root Beer Mug and Moon

Though it was well past their posted closing time of 6pm there was a steady stream of customers coming in the door, and each one was greeted with a friendly welcome, even though technically the door could have been locked. Business here in LaPlace had been affected by the storms and hurricanes over the past years, so it was good to see folks still swarming in to support this local landmark. This was definitely a highlight of our trip as well.

So if you’re even vaguely in the area – follow the rotating mug and visit the friendly folks at the LaPlace Frostop. I’m sure they’d be pleased to know that RetroRoadmap sent you! It was

LaPlace Frostop
411 East Airline Highway
LaPlace, LA 70068
985-652-6361

And talk about Social Media – way to go Terry!

LaPlace Frostop on Facebook

LaPlace Frostop blog

LaPlace Frostop on Twitter

LaPlace Frostop on Flickr

LaPlace Frostop on Urbanspoon

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Looking for a cool place for a classic cocktail, live music and all around hip scene with a vintage vibe? Then look no further than The Blue Comet in Glenside, PA.

The Blue Comet Exterior Sign

I’ve already told you how excited we were to find that The Blue Comet had reopened after being closed for 2 years, and I was psyched that RetroRoadhusband and I were able to visit there recently before-and after- a show at the Keswick Theatre for a swell date night! And since I’m hunkered down at home with the RetroRoaddog tonight, what better time reminisce about some weekend fun?

Blue Comet Door

It’s a cozy space with the bar up front where you can look at the vintage barware and entertaining kitsch while you wait for your perfect Manhattan to be created by one of their nattily dressed bartenders.

Bar Scene
Ah! There it is! Come to Betty!
Manhattan
You can order food at the bar if you like-or wait here for a booth in the back. I like the bar scene here, as you can watch people come and go, and best of all – talk to the person next to you, as instructed by one of their TVs.
Talk To The Person Next To You

Since we were heading out to a show we did order some nibbles and decided to sit at one of the upholstered booths in the back to eat. I dig the mood lighting in the Blue Comet as it does wonders in making everyone look young and beautiful, alas not so good for the photographing of food. Which was tasty for sure!

Glass Block Wall and Ortliebs BeerFolks all around were enjoying their dinner and drinks, and if it were a Saturday or Sunday they’d also be able to enjoy live music, with a Rockabilly bent. The memorabilia above our table showcases some of the bands that had played there in the past. The best place to keep up with their schedule is on The Blue Comet Facebook page.
Rockabilly Rumble PosterSince we were off to see some live music ourselves, we reluctantly had to leave the vintage environment of the Comet sooner than we’d like, but are already making plans to go there with some pals very soon.

Glenside is a neat little enclave of independent businesses – don’t leave without enjoying the science-fiction like displays of their neighbors Humphrey’s Pest Control (in business since the 1950’s – nice!):

Damage To Suitcase By Termites

And, horror of horrors:

Slide Carousel and Slides Destroyed By Termites

The Blue Comet Bar & Grill
106 S Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038
(215) 572-9780

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Speaking of vintage Italian restaurants – Tony’s Baltimore Cafe in Atlantic City New Jersey is an authentic old time AC eatery, located just a block from the famous boardwalk.

Tony's Baltimore Grill Atlantic City, NJ

There are 2 entrances- one on the corner that leads directly to the bar, another into the wonderfully in-tact retro dining room. Either way you’re told to sit anywhere you like, by one of the seasoned waitresses.

Bask in the Glow of Red Neon

We opted for the dining room, which at the time of night we were there wasn’t packed, but did have a decent stream of folks coming in out of this freezing cold windy evening for some warm pasta, pizza and throwback ambiance.

If you’ve spent more than a minute inside one of the many boardwalk casinos, with their recycled air and shopping mall vibe, you will appreciate the authentic feel of a place that has been here long before the giant buildings took over the seashore. And as you can see, they cater to the late night crowd.

HoursOpen for over 70 years, you could almost envision the Rat Pack sitting at one of the booths. (Alas the music on the jukeboxes did not live up to my swingin’ sounds expectation).

Tony's Dining RoomLike the front sign says “Spaghetti Pizza” and we said YES! I got the pizza, RetroRoadhusband got the spaghetti and meatballs and we both split a “Large Salad Bowl”. As well as a couple of affordable beers!

The pizza crust was definitely fluffier than the thin crust pies that are my fave, but this pizza was still good. RRH dug his spaghetti tho the meatballs are on the mushy side, however I informed him that I read they’ve been that way for years.

Tony's Grill PizzaI thought it was ironic that some of the casino hotels and restaurants give that old time vibe (thinking of The Continental, etc) but right here, in the shadow of these behemoths, the real deal lives on.

You Go, Little Guy!

Tony’s Baltimore Grill
2800 Atlantic Ave
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
(609) 345-5766

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It doesn’t matter that there isn’t an actual subway in Harrisburg, PA  since they’ve got the Subway Cafe restaurant and its glowing neon sign!

Subway Cafe Neon Signs Glass BlockSupposedly named for the railroad tracks under the bridge across the street, The Subway Cafe is in an industrial part of town. But with the glow of that neon beacon as a guide, and RetroRoadhusband by my side, we headed there for a bite at the beginning of a Saturday night out on the town.

Given the neighborhood we weren’t sure what to expect, but as soon as we walked in to this small restaurant to find all the tables crowded with regulars (but some seats at the bar available for us) we knew all was well.
We're Glad You're Here!While my eyes were thrilled to see the 32 oz. fishbowl beers being served, I knew my liver would be less than excited, so we opted for pints. I had read that their pizza was something to try so I ordered a plain pie to share with RetroRoadhusband, while he got a salad with house dressing and a meatball sandwich.

While we waited for our food I all but swiveled around on my seat to take in the authentic vintage decor of the place. From the mural of the hills of Italy – painted by one of the original bartenders back in the 1940’s, to the fantastically fabulous atomic age lighting fixtures, this place is the real deal.
Interior of Subway Cafe Harrisburg with MuralThe mirrored bar harkens back to when the place was not much more than a bar in the 1930’s, and even the sign above the kitchen window looks like it’s been around for forever.

We chatted with the gents next to us for a couple of minutes until our food arrived, and from them knew to expect the thin, crackery crust and the sauce on top of the cheese. While this style of pizza may not be something you’re used to,  I am a big fan of this thin crust pizza, and this was definitely a nice change from the bloaty inflated pizza crusts from chain pizza places for sure. The sauce was tangy and cheese just right.
Subway Cafe Pizza with Sauce On Top
RetroRoadhusband enjoyed his salad  – though he would have enjoyed it more had he shaken up the house dressing (as instructed by our bar-mates) but it was good to get some vegetables in, to at least pretend we were eating healthy.

Our waitress/bartender was awfully nice, even suggesting a way I could take home one of their homemade eclairs. I was tempted, but with a long night of fun ahead of us I wasn’t sure it would sit well in the car.

As we left I could not help but be in awe of the flood line markers on the wall as we made our way to the door. The 1936 flood is bad enough, but to see that the 1972 flood came within a foot of the ceiling just boggles the mind. Thank GOD the flood didn’t mess with those crazy 1950’s ceiling lights!
Subway Cafe Flood LevelsAs we made our way to the RetroRoadmobile in the parking lot I stopped to quickly snap this photo of a vintage neon Yuengling beer sign in one of their windows. You rarely if ever see this iteration of their logo, and even though I’m not a Pennsylvanian by birth, I still like to see this old design.

Vintage Yuengling Neon SignSo if you’re in Harrisburg and want some authentic Italian food, just follow the glow of the Subway Cafe’s great neon sign!

Subway Cafe
1000 Herr Street
Harrisburg, PA 17103
(717) 255-9470

Subway Cafe on Urbanspoon

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RetroRoadhusband, the dear, just surprised me with a fabulous Valentines gift – 2 tickets for us to go see Herb Alpert (of The Tijuana Brass) and Lani Hall (his wife and ex-lead singer of Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.) These are two of my fave easy listening / jazz  1960’s music groups and I can’t wait to see the show at the historic Keswick Theatre in Glenside PA next Friday!

I used to listen to Whipped Cream and Other Delights while dancing around the basement when I was growing up, and I’ve continued to be a fan of Alpert’s interpretations of standards and his originals. Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66’s album Look Around is one I picked up while thrifting when we were engaged to be married and it always brings good memories!

We’ll start off the evening with a few cocktails at our fave vintage inspired bar / lounge / restaurant The Blue Comet just down the road from the theatre. We love the vibe and food there, and are so glad this rockabilly haven has reopened.

ahh, cocktails

Now I just have to figure out what to WEAR! :-)

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