Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Williams Farm Welcome

There's something very heart warming about a farmer who wears the love of his farm on the sleeve of his blue work shirt.. As our tour bus approached the lane to his farm, there was John Williams standing at the road, smiling and waving. I was struck by his obvious enthusiasm. It wasn't hard to see that he was eager to welcome us in and show off the wonderful things he had been doing and creating, in hopes that we would spread the word that real farmers still do exist and that their products are natural as they ever were and available to all who would want to come and see for themselves.

As a regular at the Barrie Farmer's Market, John is well practiced in setting up a nice display, so the first place he led us to was a table set out with goodies under a canopy. In the centre of this was a large tray of rustic bread triangles, each spread with a generous topping of farm made maple butter. As usual, I'm the odd person out as I do not like maple syrup (overdid it in childhood - long story), but all the oohs and ahs coming from the other writers told me all I needed to know - this stuff is delicious!

I think John would have enjoyed having us there all day. I feel like he is a deep well of agricultural knowledge and would have liked to share much more of it with us and most likely would have shown us around his field crops and sugar bush. He decided that the best use of our short time on his farm would be to bring us into the heart of his maple syrup business, the 1874 barn. John loves that barn. I understand that because I love old barns too. There's something special and thought provoking about a structure made 140 years ago, by men born some 170 years ago from stone, and from timbers of trees that were seedlings in the 1700s - if those barns could talk!

Williams Farm has 2,700 taps on maple trees in the area. This year, they produced 3,330 litres of the sweet stuff! All of the sap has to be brought into the barn, at a faster and faster pace as the season goes on, to be put into the huge stainless steel, wood fired evaporator. John has been involved in the making of maple syrup since he was 13 years old. Hmmm, I wonder if he still likes maple syrup himself? I should have asked.

John is not a one trick pony. I would be doing Williams Farm a disservice if I neglected to mention their other wonderful organic products. Last year, they brought from the earth 20,000 lbs. of carrots, 36,000 heads of garlic, 5,000 lbs. of beets and a half ton of salad greens. Everyone is welcome to take a drive out to the farm and have a look. This is stop number 2 on the Huronia Food Trail, and John and his family would be really pleased to have you stop in and see them from 10 - 5 on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Some of their bottled products are available all the time in their little mini shop in front of the house. There's even an old fashioned honour jar where you can drop your payment if no one is home.

Our parting gift was a big bag of garlic scapes. Have you heard of those? No, neither had I. I learned that they are the flowering bud of the garlic plant. They must be cut off to allow the garlic bulb to grow strong, but the side bonus is that the scapes are mildly garlicky themselves and make a great addition to stir frys and omelettes. Someone in the group said they liked them in fried potatoes. I made a pot of leek and potato soup when I got home and popped some scapes in, with excellent results. I am now inspired to try my hand at growing garlic myself. That will have to wait until the fall, because like tulips, they go into the ground late in the year and are not enjoyed until much later - August, in the case of garlic.

Check out Williams Farm at 2193 Wood Rd., just south of Midland. Call John at (705)818-8036 or send him an email at

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Retreat To Wyebridge

I must admit I don't know much about retreats. I've never been to one. I understand the word - to withdraw, to get away. The parents of a college friend often went on church connected retreats, but I was never precisely sure what that entailed. This week, I had the opportunity to take a little peek at retreat just outside of Wyebridge, the Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre at 5720 Forgets Rd.

Sugar Ridge is stop number 1 on the newly minted, self guided Huronia Food Trail and it is just where we started on the media bus tour this past Monday morning. The retreat centre is short drive out of Midland, along some lovely rural roads dotted with some farms and houses, but mostly untouched, natural and green forested. Our coach bus driver, Steve, was at first unsure if he could get his big rig down the centre's laneway, but he made it and soon the woods opened up into a large open meadow with an unusually shaped building in the middle. The main building looks like two buildings joined together, one being a round yurt like structure and the other an angle roofed cottage perhaps. The windows of the round side were open to allow breezes in on this warm day, and as our bus passed in front, all I could see inside were bare feet up in the air! A yoga class was just beginning.

Our group was met at the front door by our hostess, Liz Frost, a fit looking, curly haired nature's child of a woman, who seemed perfectly suited to represent peace and health in a setting like this. She welcomed us in and offered us a look at the yoga class, before showing us to the large airy dining area where goodies were already laid out for us.

What do you do right before you eat? Wash your hands ... say grace? If you're a 'foodie', you take lots and lots of pictures! After an acceptable barrage of flashes and clicking shutters, the munching begins, with the odd hand drawn quickly back if an approaching camera lens is detected. Sugar Ridge offers organic vegetarian fare, which is exactly my thing, so I was excited to try the colourful food items on the table. There were 3 platters with 2 kinds of veggie quiches, all made with local organic eggs and Ontario cheese. They were as good as they looked! I didn't inquire what kind of cheese it was, but it seemed feta like in flavour. Fresh picked strawberries were on offer too. At the end of the table, were jugs of what looked like chocolate milk but in reality were strawberry kale smoothies. Kale seems to be the latest super food lately, I notice. I wasn't too sure what to expect, but in the spirit of culinary adventure, I tried some and surprise, surprise it was pretty tasty!

Liz offered to show us the interior of one of the little guest cabins that are scattered around the property, tucked into private little woodsy corners, some barely visible from the main building. Such cozy little places! With high ceilings, large screened windows and soft duvet covered beds, I can imagine falling asleep to the sound of crickets and the wind in the wildflowers - it must be heaven. I learned that they are partly insulated by straw which is cheap, easy to obtain, natural and very warm, even boasting an R35 insulation rating. Walking back from the little cabin, I saw tiny wild strawberries along the path, just like the kind I used to gather as child.

Back on the bus, I looked out the window and noticed that the entire meadow was a virtual airport of birds, butterflies and dragon flies arriving and departing from an endless variety native plants. There's nothing like an Ontario summer. The season is so short that every living thing, whether it has roots, wings or feet, bursts forth all at once and sings and blooms while it can. What a wonderful little place just to sit and experience it and just let the rest of the world fall away. I think I know what a retreat is now.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Food, Cooking and Rewards

The morning was warm and humid already, so we knew we were in for a scorcher of a day, when I and about 30 fellow food and travel writers, bloggers, magazine and newspaper persons and at least 1 radio host climbed onto a bus for the Huronia Food Trail's much anticipated media tour. We met at Midland's lovely town dock at the foot of King St. and were greeted by our host for the day, the very friendly Sandra Trainor, executive director of Simcoe County Farm Fresh, the marketing association that created the Huronia Food Trail project. Each of us were presented with a cute little welcome present, a small box containing just picked strawberries, locally made sheep cheese and a bottle of real maple syrup - something this frugal mother of 5 rarely buys. The family is in for a treat!

Before we set off in our (thankfully) air conditioned PMCL coach bus, I had a wander around the dock area. It had been many years since I had been to Midland, I thought, probably some 15 years since I last had a child camping at nearby Camp Simpresca. I had the very fortunate experience of meeting a local artist who was enjoying the summer morning by the water and was curious about all the excitement going on. Sonja Rathke is well known in the area for her beautiful mural work, and let me tell you Midland has a lot of spectacular murals! She had some of her recent smaller paintings in front of her on a picnic table including the first in her new series focusing on Simcoe County train stations. It caught my eye as it featured the recently restored Allandale Train Station in Barrie. I love historic buildings so we chatted quite a bit about stations, such as the original Barrie one, that are sadly gone and about the tiny Gilford Station that found a home on the property of the Simcoe County Museum.

I asked Sonja if she was kept busy full time by her art. It turns out she is not. She also enjoys a career as a dietary aide in a Midland long term care facility. Again we had something to talk about because for several years, I was a dietary aide and cook at a similar place in Barrie. Sonja and I agreed that we love this kind of work because we enjoy the feeling of making a difference in someone's life. We both need to feel like we are giving something and not just collecting a pay cheque. I told Sonja that my current job is cooking for the Salvation Army's Bayside Mission in Barrie and I adore this job even more than the last. In my few weeks there so far, I have met some of the most incredible people with the most amazingly inspiring stories.

Sonja said that she better pack up as our crowd of media folks was growing, so we parted company and I joined the group getting organized for the day. A few minutes later, Sonja was back. She handed me a print of her Allandale Train Station painting, along with her card, and told me it was a gift. Normally she only ever sells these but she was touched by our talk about cooking and serving food with meaning. She told me that someone very dear to her had eaten many meals at a Salvation Army soup kitchen. I replied that I too have had a family member go through the same circumstances in another city. Sonja was moved to reward me for the work that I, and soup kitchen cooks everywhere, do every day for those who need it. I'm not a touchy feely person, but I gave Sonja Rathke a hug.

Each tour group member was given an extra large paper shopping bag containing a CD and other maps, brochures and pertinent Huronia Food Trail information, while leaving plenty of room for the swag and goodies we would likely be receiving along the way. The bag served us well and by 3:00 contained some generously given treats such as garlic scapes, organic onions and snow peas, samples of tortierre, sweet pie, strawberry scone and a candy apple, plus a t-shirt, pen, several menus and many press releases. I couldn't help thinking to myself that my bag contained something extra special - the painting by Sonja Rathke.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Real Retro at the East End Variety & Snack Bar

You might want to search up a recording of the theme music for the old TV show "The Andy Griffiths Show" and listen to it while reading today's article, because I really feel like I took a trip back in time and arrived in Mayberry or at least a small piece of once small town Barrie that has somehow been frozen in time. I'm not sure what decade I landed in. It could be the 1970s, as one of the numerous wall calendars does date to 1975. What I do know is this little spot is a tiny time warp, a living time capsule and a magnet for those who crave a little bit of "the good old days", not a modern retro place, but real retro!

I'm talking about the East End Variety & Snack Bar at 193 Blake St. My friend Anna works there. She is about my age ... let's just say our children are school mates and will be graduating high school next year! Anna, a former resident of the east end neighbourhood, has been making breakfast most Saturday mornings for her regulars since she was in high school herself. She admits to being there 35 years now. I have been meaning to check out her cooking for a while now and decided today is the day.

"Mary, you showed up!" Anna saw me through the window before I was even inside the building. Again, I was reminded of a long ago TV program, "Alice" where you knew your waitress' name and she knew yours. Stepping inside was definitely a jolt. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I haven't seen a diner like this since travels with my family through the U.S. forty years ago. The screen door squeaks just a little, the floor is uneven and miles of green devil's ivy snake their way in every direction across the ceiling. You can sit on a stool by the U shaped counter or pull up a mismatched chair to a table next to an aquarium which is home to some gargantuan koi type fish. And when you are seated, have a look around and take in the never ending array of visuals from clocks, posters and knick knacks to the general store offerings of milk, snack foods, lottery tickets and newspapers.

Anna brought around bright blue laminated menus, offered Ron and I coffee and pointed our son to the reach in fridge where he could get himself a cold drink. Anna is perfect for the job she has. She's boisterous, humorous, extremely sociable and quick with a joke or a refill of your coffee. Our son ordered his stand by meal, bacon and eggs with the eggs over hard. Anna offered to step on them to make sure they were done! She told us with pride that the home fries are actually home fries that she makes herself and not some frozen bag stuff. She is both cook and server, with her employer Mr. Lang Nguyen assisting and working the cash register. Neither person takes them self too seriously as is evident by the large sign proclaiming the virtues of Lang Horton's great coffee!

I opted for the vegetarian omelette. It was really good! It contained lots of mushrooms, something I like and Anna later told me she had never had the opportunity to make that particular menu item before, which is shocking considering all her years there. She more or less winged it and added extra mushrooms because she's a mushroom fan herself.

East Side Variety & Snack Bar is the real deal. You won't find any pictures of Elvis or Marilyn there, unless of course they've been hanging there since Elvis and Marilyn were still living! Your grandparents and neighbours have been coming here for decades and that speaks for itself. Somehow a little unpolished jewel like East Side Variety & Snack Bar can keep customers coming back year after year simply with great food and friendly service, while so many other eateries have come and gone in the meantime. The true test of success is the test of time and Anna, Lang and East End Variety & Snack Bar certainly have passed that with top marks. Drop in some time and see Barrie at it's friendliest, small town best. It's nice to know that you still can.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Get Cozy At Wimpy's Diner

Beautiful day for a ball hockey game. Nice temp, blue skies, no rain or snow and no opposing team either. I guess they forgot to show up! Ron and I had promised to take our son out for a burger after his game, and once you have planted the idea of food in the head of this 6 foot 2 inch, 19 year old guy, there's no prying it out again, so we were committed to this post game meal. At least our tall table mate wasn't as hot and stinky as he might otherwise have been.

Where to go? Wimpy's Diner is conveniently located directly across the street from the ball hockey rinks at 441 Dunlop St. W., so that decision was a fairly easy one. The three of us were quickly seated at a corner booth, but could have had our pick of seats since it was mid afternoon, a typically quiet time in most restaurants. Ron realised he had forgotten his glasses, but I assured him that he could likely guess most of the menu. A diner is a diner, and we have been to Wimpy's on Yonge St. in Barrie more than once, so you name it and they probably serve it.

I should have made a small monetary wager on the athlete's entree selection, as he always chooses the same thing - the sandal. It's more proper name is the 10 oz. burger and it's big! The patty is oblong (sort of like a flip flop) in shape and hangs out of both sides of the normal sized hamburger bun. Our son always downs it with fries, a coke and pretty much an entire bottle of ketchup, and there's never a bite left. He tells me that it was exactly like the same ones served at the Yonge St. location, which is as it should be given that this is a chain restaurant. There really should be no surprises.

Ron elected to try the philly cheese steak sandwich. When it arrived, he whispered to me "What's that sauce on top of it?" I informed the visually challenged one that it was melted cheese, since he was having a philly cheese steak after all. Our son just stared open mouthed. Laugh now, young one - your eye sight will let you down some day too! Ron had a neutral opinion of his meal in the end. It was exactly as represented in the menu, but it was nothing special. No complaints (other than he likes his onions and peppers chopped just a wee bit smaller) but no rave reviews either.

As for me, I had the 2 piece haddock and chips. I should have gone for the 1 piece, but I didn't so I was a little overstuffed after that. No complaints from me either. The fish batter was nice and crispy, fries were super hot and the cole slaw was just nice.

The decor was as expected too, the usual collection of mostly faux antique signs, retro motifs and lots of Marilyn and Elvis. The diner was very clean and it almost looked like it might have undergone a bit of a face lift in the recent past. Were those blue tiles on the walls new? The server girls seemed slightly bored or uninspired, but their service was flawless and they were friendly enough.

If you're in the vicinity of a Wimpy's Diner, and in the mood for good old fashioned regular food, reminiscent of what they used to call family restaurants, take a wander in and get comfy in a cozy booth. Great for kids and I would imagine perfect for seniors, especially some of the ones I know who like to stick to foods that they know and not venture too far outside of their culinary comfort zone. I happen to know they make a wicked breakfast too!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Fran's On Bayfield

My husband, Ron, works a variety of shifts but the only one that he really dislikes is the midnight shift, the 11:00 to 7:30 time slot where men are made to be owls and switch to being nocturnal creatures for one week. Some people thrive on this arrangement, but Ron does not, so on  Friday mornings after the last shift on that stretch, we celebrate by going out for breakfast, before he goes off to bed for the day. We have a semi regular place that we like to eat, but being a food writer now and feeling responsible for keeping Barrie informed about good eats in B-town, I said "Can we go to Fran's this time?" The sleepy, hungry millwright did not disagree.

I've been to Fran's before. It's very conveniently located for us actually, with their 407 Bayfield St. location pretty much backing onto the far end of the street we live on. Most of the time, I meet up with a few girlfriends and former co-workers to catch up on the latest gossip and talk about our kids. There is always room for us and we're never rushed out. Strangely, the first visit we ever had to Fran's, a number of years ago, we had an odd experience. I must have been wearing my cloak of invisibility that day because the hostess, upon greeting Ron and I at the door, asked "Table for one?" and later when we got coffee, only Ron got refills and more creamers! I'm sure that server, and her poor peripheral vision have gone elsewhere since then.

We were greeted today by a very nice young hostess who seemed to know we would want a booth, but maybe everybody wants a booth? Our server, a chipper, fit looking woman of about my age (which I'm not telling, by the way) was table side in a flash. "Can I get you coffee or orange juice?" she asked. Feeling nearly as groggy as my night owl husband today, I accepted the offer of both. The two of us would have accepted caffeinated mud I believe, but we were happily surprised by some really pleasant coffee at Fran's. The orange juice was another unexpected treat. I was unaware that Fran's was famous for it's fresh juice bar and that my o.j. was 100% freshly squeezed. Cool!

Ron had his usual - bacon, 2 eggs over easy, whole wheat toast and home fries. Sure he's in a rut, but I decided a while ago that it's not such a bad thing when you're doing 'food research' as it creates a nice base line to which other similar breakfast meals can be compared. I had forgotten that Fran's had a nice selection of vegetarian items. When I come in closer to lunch time with the girls, I always have their vegetarian garden burger. It comes with sauteed mushrooms and has inspired me to add them to all my home cooked veggie burgers now. Fran's is the only place I've so far found vegetarian sausage and eggs on the menu and I really enjoy having that choice there.

Our meals were perfection, what else can I say? Ron has this theory, which you may have heard me quote before "How can you screw up breakfast?" Oh, you'd be surprised! But Fran's did not disappoint. Over easy eggs are probably the #1 most likely to be 'screwed up' breakfast item, but Ron's eggs were a work of art. High fives to the cooks in the back.

We were admiring the brick work on the wall by our table when I took a closer look at the wall art above us. It was a framed poster of their famed 20 College St. location in Toronto. Another thing I had not realised is that Fran's grew from a small mom and pop operation, not from the minds of a group of CEOs in a think tank who just dreamed up a chain one day. I like that. There's something nice about the idea of a little corner restaurant that simply served good food and grew organically over the years. And did you know that Fran is a guy? Yes it's true, Fran's was started by Buffalo born Francis Deck and his wife over 70 years ago. They claim to be the first to offer the now widespread banquet burger.

Give Fran's a try, if you haven't already. Nice atmosphere, convenient location with tons of parking, friendly service, good food. You can't ask for more than that.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

We're Here For A Good Time, Alliston

Well, I'm a little deaf today. With my five kids now aged 16 to 23 years and fairly independent, I'm finding the time now to attend some concerts here and there and take mini time machine trips back to the 1980s. In April, it was Prism and Loverboy at Casino Rama, and last night it was The Spoons and Trooper at the New Tecumseth Rec Centre in Alliston. It was a blast quite literally. The Spoons were great as always, and I believe Trooper was too but it was really hard to tell as their superior sound system was probably better suited to the Air Canada Centre than a small town arena. I could have left early, but who leaves before "Raise A Little Hell"?!

My husband and I were part of a larger group of recycled teenagers trying to relive a little of those glory days. Twelve of us, coming from several local towns, Barrie, Innisfil, Gilford and Bradford, decided to meet up for a bite before the concert. We were cooks, millwrights, film makers, truck drivers and office workers, most with a common denominator of having attended Bradford District High School back in the day, and all with a desire to reclaim a little bit of our 80s music. We took a bit of a vote through Facebook and settled on East Side Mario's at 138 Young St. in Alliston.

Who knew Alliston was such a hopping place? It sure has grown from the sleepy little potato farming community I remember as a child. The parking lot outside East Side Mario's didn't look particularly crowded, but the restaurant itself was quite full at 6:00 p.m. with diners and a good complement of staff. The decor was as you'd expect it for an ESM, clean and well organized too. Say what you will about restaurant chains, but when you find one that you like you can be sure within a certain degree of accuracy that you will have a good dining experience. Having recently dined at their Orillia location, I was dreaming of their butternut squash ravioli with a side of button mushrooms!

Ron and I were seated right away at a good long table situated nicely, and not jammed, into a corner near the front - a perfect party sized location. It helped that one of my friends had called ahead to inform them that no less than twelve time travellers would be dining together with them at 6:00. With our party arriving in twos and threes, we certainly kept those young servers on their toes, but they were patient, friendly and professional with us. Some were finished their appetizer and looking for another drink, while others had just cracked the menu cover. Kudos to the twenty-somethings who kept these former twenty-somethings well hydrated and fed, and did it cheerfully!

I sampled a few of the appetizers on the table. When I taste something I like, my first thought is - I must try to make this at home! Future kitchen experiments will now include the butternut squash ravioli of course, but also the hot spinach and cheese dip and the mushroom stuffed caps - magnifico! The caesar salad might be lacking a little in the dressing department, but don't mind me - I make my own caesar dressing at home and it has a bite! Also, I use a lot of said home made dressing. The garlic home loaf, all you can eat just like the salad, is a very nice product. Warm, fresh, not over-the-top garlicky and stays soft for a long time on the table.

Everyone enjoyed their entrees. There were a couple of minor slip-ups, but after a glass of wine or beer, everyone was jovial enough to laugh them off! Those of us who ordered their well-known-to-be-delectable sauteed button mushrooms with our entrees were momentarily disappointed with their non arrival. The young lady expiditing the food from the kitchen had my ravioli platter in her hand and asked who it was for. I said that it might be mine but it should have mushrooms on it. Her reply was simply "Well, it doesn't." I found that pretty funny. Thank you, 8 oz. glass of house white wine! Happy ending - everyone got their yummy mushrooms. All the food came, in fact it kept coming. The expeditor was back again soon with two more pasta dishes that no one ordered. She looked ever so slightly exasperated. Poor guys in the kitchen, you're in for it now!

In the words of Trooper "We're here for a good time, not a long time." and I can say that East Side Mario's in Alliston was part of our good time. Loved the food. Service was great. Thanks young servers for putting up with us old timers who must seem to you as annoying as your parents!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Great Place Having Off Day

I call myself a restaurant cheerleader because that's what I love to do. From my working career beginning as a 16 year old snack bar girl at a golf course, through many stints as cook, waitress, dietary aide, caterer and kitchen supervisor, to my recent adventure leading culinary tours through downtown Barrie, I know how hard it is to work in food service. The last thing I want to do is bring down the good, hard working people of any eatery.

The other side of the coin is the equally hard working people of Barrie and Simcoe County, out for a meal and faced with a ton of great but mind boggling choices concerning where to eat. They too deserve a fair accounting of the good, bad and the ugly of local dining establishments. No where are you guaranteed a perfect dining experience, but it is useful to know where the odds are in your favour.

In betwixt these two camps, sits the lonely food critic. My job is easy when I sit down at a table and am greeted with wonderful service in a swanky atmosphere and my food comes to me quickly, exactly as ordered and maybe even exceeding my expectations. "Ah what a perfect job." you'll say. "Not so fast." I'll say. The difficulty comes when I am disappointed in my dining experience and my sadness is compounded by the fact that there's a keyboard and a blank page at home awaiting my review of this restaurant.

You should know two things about me. I dread hurting anyone's feelings or causing anyone unhappiness. I am also honest almost to a fault. Perhaps you can see my dilemma. Today I am doubly (or is it triply) pained, as the place I chose to review is a restaurant I have eaten at many times before and I know it's a great place. That's why I keep going back, and I will do so again. Unfortunately, they had an off day today.

When my family and I go out for breakfast, no one ever asks where we're going. We always end up at the Flashback Diner at 309 Bayfield St. in Barrie. Sometimes it is lined up almost out the back door with customers, but we always wait. It's that good. It was lined up today, a Saturday morning, but not too bad. We might have waited 10 minutes. The servers were good at reminding us that they hadn't forgotten us and it wouldn't be long before we got a table. My husband and teen son and I joked that they should install ejection seats in the dining room to hurry the excessive lingerers on their way!

We were seated and quickly served drinks. As she gathered our menus, our super friendly waitress took our orders and stored the information not on a notepad, but in her head. I'm always amazed by servers who can do that! This what we ordered ...
1) Greek omelette with extra veg (green peppers, onion), home fries, rye toast.
2) 3 eggs over easy, bacon, home fries, whole wheat toast.
3) 3 eggs over hard, bacon, home fries, white toast.
And wow did our food ever arrive fast! I commented on the lightning speed of the kitchen staff's cooking, but as soon as our waitress left our table, we realized that a few things were amiss. My husband can live with rye toast (instead of whole wheat) but my teen son cannot tolerate runny eggs. Admittedly neither can I, that's why I usually go low risk and choose an omelette. Our server cheerfully took the eggs away to be cooked further, and just before she did, I asked her when a good time would be to order another meal to go ... now or closer to bill time. She said she would take that order when we were half way through our meal. Unfortunately, she did not remember until we were finished. Luckily, we had no pressing engagements after breakfast, so we were not stressed in the least to wait a few more minutes. My meal was as ordered and they didn't charge me extra for the small hair on the edge of my plate either.

So I left the Flashback Diner today with a full stomach and a big  bag of mixed emotions. I knew I had a review to write, but I wished I had chosen another day to cover the Flashback, any of the other many days when I had eaten a perfect meal there. Any place can have an off day, it was Saturday after all and they were training a new server, I noted. I think what saved the day, and would save the day at any other restaurant too, was the friendly service. Our complaints were made respectfully and the server was as positive and upbeat as you can imagine about it. If she had been snarly or outwardly disgruntled, the experience would have been much worse and I would have mentally checked the 'do not return' box in my brain.

Bottom line: Excellent all day breakfast eatery, cool 50's decor and vibe, friendly staff, quick service. Run by human beings so expect an off day once in a while.