Friday, November 07, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

...and their respective Meatloaf Sammiches. Warning: iPhone photos ahead! Apologies for the powdered milk patina.

So, I've been out of town a lot for work. It's a controversial project that I can't discuss, but I do a lot of driving and hiking. In the rain. Through brush so thick it bruises me. I love the sugar pine and manzanita on the east side, and the salal and evergreen huckleberry on the west side, but lord if that shit ain't make a tough stroll.

I live on a chintzy per diem on this project and usually eat a lot of trail mix and peanut butter to keep the change, but whenever I'm in Klamath Falls I eat at Mollie's at least once. It's a truck stop across the parking lot from the Super 8, and when I was out here for weeks on end a couple years ago, I used to spend my lonely evenings at the adjoining bar for cocktails, karaoke and dancing with strangers.

Mollie's is a place where you get The Special. You get the "Supper", as in "Broasted Chicken Supper", or "Salisbury Steak Supper". The supper includes a potato "your way" (baked, mashed or French-fried), soup or salad (you always get the salad, with thousand island, because you just do), and a vegetable (usually corn or the peas/carrots centimeter-cubed, but sometimes an over-steamed zuke or broccoli). Or, like me, you buck tradition and get the meatloaf sandwich served open-face and topped with rich brown gravy that may not come from a can.

Note the perfect lake of gravy nestled in the back-of-the-scoop crater.

This sandwich was perfect in every way, except that you couldn't pick it up with your hands and shove it into your trembling face fast enough. The baked-on ketchup skin lets you know that this is real leftover meatloaf, not a shoddy patty with gravy. The minced celery and onion in the meat was a homey touch.

Then there's Kozy Kitchen, which is apparently a chain along the southern Oregon coast. There was one next to my hotel in Coos Bay, but we ate at the one in Myrtle Point (sardonically called "Turtle Point" by coworker Chris). They, too, had a meatloaf sammich-type offering, this time the "BBQ Meatloaf Cheddar Melt". I was skeptical, yet intrigued.

You can hardly stop staring at those chili fries, can't you. I'm right there with you - you can tell how enamored of them I was by the fact that they are front-and-center in the photo and the sandwich is shrinking behind their glory. In fact, when I saw them on the menu I almost just ordered those; instead, I asked for my requisite side-of-fries to be topped with chili and cheese. The waitress forgot the onions, but I forgave her.

This meatloaf sammich wasn't quite what I was craving. It was great, don't get me wrong, but it was trying too hard to be a patty melt or a sloppy joe. The sauce cloyed, the loaf was too crumbly and the fries easily stole the show. I did, however, enjoy the toasted bread that had about a stick of butter on each slice.

I coveted Chris' order of the Country-Fried (or was it Chicken-Fried?) Steak Scramble. I think the difference between chicken-fried and country-fried is in the type of gravy, but this is an unscientific assumption.

Mollie's handily won the meatloaf sammich contest, but Kozy Kitchen gets props for thinking outside the box, and for having a sassy old broad cookie instead of a grumbly felon on the line. Kozy Kitchen also had the Obama burger as the special, which featured bacon, horseradish, fried onions and blue cheese crumbles. I couldn't tell if this was supposed to be some kind of joke, so I avoided asking.

Mollie's Truck Stop
3817 US 97 N
Klamath Falls , OR

Kozy Kitchen
531 8th Street
Myrtle Point, OR


Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

I love your "on the road" diner type-of-places reviews! You order pretty much what I would in those situations. I only eat meatloaf in the states but never tried it in a sandwich...looks delicious!

Manggy said...

Wait, there's something missing in the Obama burger. I think it's Arugula. LOL

Anyway, I love these diner pics (hmm, I wonder if I would love them just as much in person?). I've never even heard of chicken-fried... Only country-fried. How about the first meatloaf sammich with the chili fries? yum!!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love meatloaf sandwiches - almost the whole point of meatloaf in my opinion! But those chilli fries are something else!

peter said...

All I can think of now is a 50/50 chili/gravy alloy to adorn some fries. That, and you trudging through sodden underbrush with the Mission: Impossible theme playing.

How happy are you to be home, and the owner of some vegetables? Don't answer that; you'd have to kill me if you told me.

Anonymous said...

Diner food typically rocks (!). Love the localized versions of everything. Cheap is always nice too.

Lo said...

How could it happen that those fries would NOT steal the show? They look fantastic.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I have tried meatloaf in restaurants but still nothing beats a good meatloaf at home in familiar surroundings.It's like trying to have a turkey dinner with all the trimmings at a restaurant...sure to disappoint.

Anonymous said...

this is the type of food you just can't ever recreate at home... it's about the little touches that exist in the atmosphere - you've totally capture mollie's essence!

now show us your brush scratches/bruises!

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, s***, you are a brave nosher. Eek.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

I absolutely love old time diner food and it doesn't get any better than meatloaf does it? Love the chili fries!

Brittany said...

Everyone knows meatloaf is best the next day on a sammich with a really unhealthy, starchy side.
Chili fries just took the gold for those requirements....

bec said...

OMG! Chili Fries -- I have not seen these before - they looked fantastic!. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I want a meatloaf sammich and a lake-o-gravy! But those freaking fries! Gawd. I miss diners. We don't have any of those around here.

Leigh said...

holy christ. All that looks soooo good, chilli fries! Yes! gimme!

Heather said...

Petah - I always think of you Aussies/Brits, Euros and Asians when I do these posts. This is a slice of America that can only be experienced by getting out of town.

Mark - They're even better in person, I assure you.

Alicia - The chili fries were off the chains, for real. Even better than that one time when I dumped canned chili over tater tots.

Jubilation T. Cornpwn - Ooh gravy. Brown gravy, right? Country gravy would just be too much. But it's good to be home.

Innagottabadeeba, Baby - This is local diner food? What do they do where you live? I'm intrigued.

Lo - They were the belle of the ball.

Valli - You are totally right. The meatloaf sammich is one thing (and the fries can't be recreated at home), but homemade meatloaf is the best.

Amy - One stick scratched me through my pants and raingear and left a 4"-long scratch-bruise on my inner thigh. It was pretty wicked.

That's the Way the Cookiecrumb - It's not bravery, so much, as a cross between desperation and defiance.

Judy - Meatloaf is the best, but I also love a good Salisbury steak with iceberg salad.

Brittany - I still can't stop thinking about them. I need to have these again. With macaroni and cheese.

Bec - You're welcome! Thanks for coming over to my pad for a visit!

Nikki - It's too bad. Sad, really. You'll just have to settle for those gorgeous tapas joints instead. Sigh.

Leigh - I always look forward to your response to these diner posts. :)

Brittany said...

Oh man, I love me some next day meatloaf sandwiches, cold and with some yummy thick bread, eaten while still standing int he kitchen because you can't even wait the time it takes you to get to the couch to devour it.

Anonymous said...

Greasy spoons do seem to make this sort of the thing the best. Maybe I just go too shy on the lard at home.

MrOrph said...

Great post. Reminds me of the diners back in Philly that I miss so much here in ATL.

I used to love the open face turkey and gravy on bread. Good stuff.

Chicken fried = country fried. Depends on where you live.

Peter M said...

These roadside diners are Prmo Americana and I never miss a meal if I pass one on the road outside of the city.

Salisbury steaks, meatloafs...all rib-stickin' good.

BTW...when you going to area 51?

Heather said...

Brittany - Standing over the sink is best in this case, but yeah.

Marc - I think the trick is to reuse the oil for 8 hours.

Donald - Don't they have good ones in Georgia? You gotta get out of town for this shit! (They had country-fried and chicken-fried on the same menu, helping my confusion.)

Peter the Greek - I wish we had drive-by poutine joints here. Wanna trade?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I love this kind of down-home diner food. I'm not sure what got me more here. I was coveting your chili fries until I saw the chicken in the background.


I'm not sure what looks better -- the chili fries, or that gravy cover whateveritwas that other guy had! Both are killers.

Thistlemoon said...

Happy travels, Heather! I always love your on the road posts!

Anonymous said...

Sheesh, are they hiring?
It's always been my dream to work in one of those joints. I wanna be ladle boy who pours chili over the fries and who gets all artsy and shit.

I'm trippin'.

glamah16 said...

You need to take a lot of hikes to work off that heavy dinner food. Welcome back.

MrOrph said...

"Donald - Don't they have good ones in Georgia? You gotta get out of town for this shit! (They had country-fried and chicken-fried on the same menu, helping my confusion.)

Here in GA, the diners are NOTHING like back home or the truck stops like you wrote about. It sux.

Maybe this will help:

muddywaters said...

I'm always on the prowl for good roadside eats. Thanks for the suggestions.

Leigh said...

remember our conversation re; americana? Well, this kinda falls into it. I looove Diner stuff - why? Because it's so USA,it's practically exotica (like neon motel signs, another fetish of mine!!). I guess like fish and chips to you guys! Keep em coming!!