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Old 12-02-2010, 06:57 PM   #1
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Default Dining Treasures on the Road

Have any of you found some truly memorable restaurants on the road? For the past decade my wife & I have been driving far more than flying on vacations because she is too fat to fly comfortably anymore, although we do fly if driving isn't practical. Along the way we've found plenty of local cuisine we might never have found otherwise.

Here are five of our favorite restaurant finds on the road:

LePage's Seafood & Grille, Fall River, Massachusetts

Some locals recommended this restaurant, and while we were driving there we found ourselves in an industrial area so I thought we were getting lost. Finally we saw the modest restaurant which didn't look very impressive, until we noticed several Mercedes and Cadillacs parked there. This must be the place! It so happened they had whole lobsters on the menu, so naturally as Midwesterners who had no idea what we were doing, that's exactly what we ordered. Our server patiently instructed us how to eat whole lobsters without the use of hacksaws or dynamite. Before long, we were attacking the lobsters with surgical precision. The weather happened to be perfect, so we dined in an open-air but roofed-over annex overlooking South Watuppa Pond, and we watched a cat and some birds chase each other. Dinner and a show!

Trey Yuen Cuisine of China, Hammond, Louisiana

We were on Interstate 55 en route to New Orleans for a wedding, and with about an hour left on our drive we stopped for Sunday dinner at one of the best Chinese restaurants we've found anywhere. The restaurant was nicely decorated and the landscaping was impressive too. Luckily we arrived just before noon and we were seated immediately, but the restaurant filled up very quickly. Besides their excellent traditional dishes they featured local specialties like Szechuan Spicy Alligator which was fantastic.

East 40 Chophouse & Tavern, Bismarck, North Dakota

We were on a national park vacation out west to Little Bighorn National Battlefield in Montana, Devil's Tower in Wyoming and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Then we spent a few days in North Dakota because it was there, and which has few major attractions, but the friendly people made us feel very welcome. Best of all, now I can brag I've visited all fifty states. We celebrated my milestone with dinner at East 40 Chophouse & Tavern in Bismarck which looked good in the tourist guide and on their web site, and the reality was even better. We enjoyed one of the best beef- and bison-steak dinners of our lives there: Buffalo Ribeye ("12 oz Dakota raised buffalo ribeye served with sweet chili jam, adobo demi glance and Lyonnaise hash browns"). For dessert we couldn't decide between their Classic Creme Brulée ("Classic cream custard made with imported vanilla beans for the ultimate vanilla flavor, finished with a caramelized sugar crust") or their Blondie Brownie Sundae ("Homemade white chocolate espresso pistachio nut brownies topped with dark chocolate ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauces") so we ordered both. The rest of our evening was a blur of calorie-driven ecstacy, but we had big smiles on our faces.

Roy's Poipu Bar & Grill, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is a magical place so worth the airline hassles that we've flown there 4 or 5 times, although we do break up our flight halfway from Chicago with a stopover in San Francisco or Los Angeles so I can pry my wife out of the airplane seat for a couple hours. Once we spent a week on Kauai. Dinner at Roy's Poipu Bar & Grill was so fantastic we dined there twice! We ordered the Prix Fixe menu both times but chose different items. Naturally I remember dessert most: Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé ("Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Molten Hot Center served à la Mode"). Roy Yamaguchi has restaurants in several other states and they feature Hawaiian Fusion cuisine.

Café de la Paix, Québec City, Québec

We found this restaurant quite by chance strolling around the old city, when the sign "homard frais" in the window caught my eye. Fresh lobster! I had been working in France the previous year, so my French was halfway decent. Too bad those Québec accents were so hard for me to understand, but they sure liked what French I knew so we got first class service. The lobster was great and surprisingly cheap, so we lucked into a good deal. For dessert, Sabayon au Grand Marnier for two.
"Musik er Liv, som dette uudslukkelig." ["Music is Life, and, like it, inextinguishable."] — Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
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