Post # 20 Murphy’s Diner

July 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

We went to a “new to us” diner this morning.  We always figure that if a place can mess up bacon and eggs, they can mess up everything else.  So breakfast is usually the first meal we’ll try at an establishment if we can.  Gotta say, it was down right decent.

We collect local diners.  We like the places where you go in and are taken aback by the decor, the wait staff, and the customers.  We like quirky and down home.  We like being surprised by good food in good portions.  We like home spun and value, and values.

One of our favorite places was in Purcelleville, VA.  Oddly enough, it was called The Purcellville Diner.  It was a pretty good sized place for being a diner, but it still had that “sit yourself” attitude.  Purcellville was a couple of hours away from us, so going there was an event.  It had the best home made sausage you could ask for.  And the chef delivered every plate of food, and came by later to find out if everything was okay.  Once, while we were there during a bicycling event we had vounteered for, the table next to us had a big party of young “professionals” who complained about everything in the place.  Mostly they complained about the service.  When she brought us our preliminary sodas, the group was still complaining loudly enough to be overheard.  She looked at me and grinned and gave a quick wink.  She knew how to make sure they wouldn’t bother her again!

Another favorite, also in VA, was in Winchester, but located in the “old town” section.  I don’t recall the name, but it was a throw back to 50’s with counter service, an original juke box, and the menu you’d expect from a diner of that kind.  Everything we ever ate there was fantastic.  Every time we went there, it was  packed.  As busy as it was, though, we never had to wait more than five minutes for a table.  They knew how to do food and turn a table.

We also went to a restaurant on the river near our house in VA.  You were not going to stumble on this place.  You had to know where it was and where you were going.  You had to drive to modern shopping center, turn right into a new housing development, turn left, follow the road a long way until the housing development gave out, turn left into a future planned section, turn right and up a hill into a heavily wooded section not associated with the housing development, follow the winding road, go over a railroad track and turn immediately left and drive along a dirt road between the river and the railroad tracks until you got to the parking lot of the restaurant and hope there was parking available.  Or you could park your boat along one of the docks or rafts and get a water taxi ride.  Great food, great atmosphere, great fun.  In summer, they always had a live band playing on Fri thru Sun.

There was a quirky little place in NC about two blocks from our house.  It was located where the main road split so it had two main entrances depending on which road you were on.  It also had two dining styles depending on which door you entered.  On one side, it was a typical family style diner, and the other was a “fancy” steak restaurant.  We seldom went to the fancy side because we preferred the menu and ambiance on the diner side.  But the duality always made us chuckle.

Here, we’re still discovering the fun and the quirky.  Today, we found Murphy’s Diner.  Acutally, we found it long before, but the last time we decided to go there, it was closed for the July 4th holiday, although it wasn’t July 4th when we went.  It’s a local favorite, and partner/spouse’s coworkers said it was great.  We showed up this morning around 8:30 and the place wasn’t packed, but there were a bunch of people there.  More showed up as time passed, and one thing I noted was that all the wait staff greeted each new arrival by name, and knew what drink to get them.

The first thing that hit us as we sat down was they sell Coke products.  There were Coke advertising memorabilia EVERYWHERE!  Most of it was vintage stuff, too.  It was fun to look at.  The menu was pretty standard, but man! the portions were huge.  I had an omelet with cheese, mushrooms, ham, green onions, and fresh basil.  It was only slightly smaller than the standard football.  Plus hash browns, a skillet full, and two slices of toast, and a side of bacon.  Wonderful stuff!  The others had a chicken fried steak which was fork tender and smothered in gravy; and a standard egg breakfast with bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, etc.  The food was great, hot, and plentiful.  I did notice that most of the customers were of the aged variety, who knew a good deal.

The most amazing thing about the place was the lavish reptilian decor.  There was a HUGE terrarium in the center of the restaurant.  This thing was about four feet wide, and about twenty feet long.  I walked around it to see what it held.  It had a variety of environments ranging from a dirt area, to rocks, to a waterfall and pool.  I looked closely, but all I could see was a “small” alligator.  Seriously, an alligator.  It was probably fourteen inches long or thereabouts.  I assume it was the restuarant’s mascot.  Next time I’m there, I’m finding out that story.

These are the kinds of things you run into when you don’t look for “the best” or “the fanciest”.  Given a choice, I’ll always choose the winking waitress or the alligator.  Every time.

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