Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Rootbeer Stand

It's purely coincidental that we hit two historic root beer stands in one summer.
We've driven past the exit sign touting The Rootbeer Stand in Oglesby, Illinois so many times while on our way to other destinations. This time we made a plan to stop.
I believe The Rootbeer Stand was an A&W root beer stand until some time in the 1980s. Henry Moore owned it for 50 years, purchasing it after World War II.
In the parking lot, we were greeted by Woody the Root Beer man, with root beer and burger in hand.
Inside, we took a booth along the left side of the restaurant, and soon placed our order for cheeseburgers, an iced tea for me, root beer for my husband and fries and onion rings. My meal also came with a salad, for which I selected a creamy garlic dressing.
The prices were very reasonable.
The food took a little while to be prepared, but our onion rings came out quickly. My husband was trying to save them for his meal, but once I sampled them I kept having to have more.
They were super crisp through and through, none of those slithery onions slipping out once you bit through the outer crust. They were great alone, but I found them even better with a small dollop of ranch sauce.
The garlic dressing on my salad had nice garlic powder punch, and the burgers were good.
My wavy fries were also nicely prepared, with a distinct crunchy outer shell leading to soft potato goodness tucked inside.
My husband enjoyed the root beer, and I found it to be much more to my liking than most I've tried.
I perused the "flavor burst" ice cream menu many times debating between butter pecan and a cotton candy flavor, but in the end decided to skip dessert.
After lunch, we walked around the site a bit, admiring the drive-in parking complete with curbside menus.

The Rootbeer Stand
225 N Columbia Avenue
Oglesby, IL 61348

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Triple XXX Family Restaurant

Driving through Lafayette, Indiana one time, my husband and I noticed a rather gaudy orange and brown striped building on the hill. We saw a sign that said Triple XXX, and wrote it off as some odd college shop or bar.Much to our surprise while watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network a few months later, we recognized the orange and brown building, which was featured on a burgers episode.
It was then that we decided the next time we were in Lafayette, we had to check the place out.
Why the name Triple XXX? The restaurant was named after a root beer brand of the same name sold in the 1900s.
There were once several Triple XXX root beer stands. Besides the Lafayette, IN location, one remains in Issaquah, WA.
Arriving at the restaurant in Lafayette in late August, we pulled up to the former drive-in area, which was filled with tables of people waiting to get inside and eat.
On this Saturday, it didn't appear that they were offering curb side service, and I am not sure if they do so anymore.
Walking in, we were told that it would be a few minutes wait for seating inside, so we started to head out to wait, but just as we reached the door we were told to grab a couple of the round orange vinyl stools that had just opened up.
All of the seating in the Triple XXX Family Restaurant is counter seating, and depending on which section of the room you're in, you may be starting across the oval counter at someone sitting just across from you.
The restaurant has been serving up chop steak burgers (from sirloin ground in house) since the late 1920s, so of course we both selected items off the burger menu, after ordering a chocolate malt for me and a root beer for my husband. After the fact, I noticed they had butterscotch malts and wished I had ordered one of those.
I decided to be a bit adventurous with my meal after seeing this description on the menu: "The Duane Purvis All-American - A very special taste treat! 1/4 lb. of 100% ground sirloin served on a toasted sesame bun with melted cheese on top with lettuce, tomato, pickle, Spanish onion and French fries. Add thick creamy peanut butter on the lower deck and you're in for the touchdown!"
While we waited for our food, my husband headed to the small ATM located in the corner of the restaurant, as the only form of payment accepted was cash. He headed back to his stool, and soon our food arrived.
Surprisingly, the peanut butter was not a big standout when I bit in to my burger, but was more of an interesting side note.
I would not be shocked to find myself putting some peanut butter on a burger some time in the future, but if you had told me that before I tried the Duane Purvis, I would have thought you were crazy.
The fries were okay.
The restaurant is currently open 24 hours and also serves breakfast.
The thing I enjoyed about dining at the Triple XXX was the hustle and bustle of everything, and the fun of people watching while basking in a bit of history.

Triple XXX Family Restaurant
2 N Salisbury St
West Lafayette, IN 47906

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Riley Suspension Bridge

Planning our most recent trip to Indiana late this August, I ran across an interesting site I had never visited, the Riley Suspension Bridge.
The bridge spans Deer Creek in Delphi, named for the Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley, and is at least the fourth suspension bridge at this site. Three previous bridges were built in 1911, 1988 and 1998 and were all destroyed by floods.
Supports for one of the previous bridges can still be seen nearby.
The land for the Riley Park Annex, where the suspension bridge is located, was donated by E.W. Bowen and his wife in 1930.
The park also features ball diamonds, playgrounds, basketball courts and picnic shelters.

Riley Suspension Bridge
S. Washington Street to Riley Park Drive
Delphi, IN 46923