Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Business

August 18, 2013

Tim Preston: Places to go; tender pork; bologna sandwiches; and Greek salads: 8/18/13

ASHLAND — I’ve had no shortage of follow-up questions after last week’s report about the crazy burgers being served at Rams Dairy Bar in Worthington, although I failed to get there to try one myself before this week’s deadline rolled around.

If you missed it, the dairy bar and convenience store at 100 Scott St. in the former location of Jeradan’s and Crisp’s in Worthington, offers adventurous diners their choice of the T.J. or The Tackle, which are bacon-laden cheeseburgers sandwiched between grilled cheese sandwiches. My favorite comment came from Bill Hornbuckle, who asked, “Do you eat it with a rib spreader?” Joshua Ball also suggested this column should be sponsored by the cardiac unit at King’s Daughters Medical Center. I understand they also have plenty of menu options for people who aren’t crazy about the idea of such a heavy entree. I’ve already received a few excellent reviews of the place and look forward to my own investigation in the week ahead.

So, we’ll add Rams Dairy Bar to my growing list of places worthy of personal investigation, along with the new coffee shop in Grayson; the Southwest-style restaurant Habenero’s, (also in Grayson) which my fellow reporter Ken Hart told us about a couple of weeks back; and the Sweet & Sassy Treats shop that recently opened in the food court at Kyova Mall in Cannonsburg.

I did talk to the owner at 3rd Street Coffee at 209 Robert & Mary St. in Grayson, when I heard about the shop and can confirm the lady knows her beans. And, based on our conversation, she also has an excellent understanding of the techniques required to make outstanding coffee drinks, which is an art unto itself. The coffee shop offers “a blend of pastries, fresh fruit, sandwiches and gourmet coffees and teas” and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (606) 831-5749.

I have an interview set at Sweet & Sassy Treats, although I couldn’t make the timing work out to get anything in here this week. The shop offers “freshly spun gourmet cotton candy, cake pops, yummy homemade suckers, party-theme goody bags, occasion baskets, centerpieces, cookie bouquets, all customized to please our customers and fans.” For more information, call (774) 303-6567.

While I’m at the mall, I think I’ll also make myself take the time to sit down and enjoy something from My Dad’s Pizza, also in the food court. Every time I’ve walked in there recently, they’ve been cooking something that triggered my appetite. One of my favorite readers from Greenup reports he likes to patronize the family-owned pizza restaurant purely because he appreciates the way fries are made. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 928-3237 for the Cannonsburg branch, or (606) 836-8165 for the original location in Flatwoods.

Elks lunch

For a few weeks now, I’ve been trying to get to the Ashland Elks lodge during lunch to have a bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings. I had my chance last week, although it didn’t take much to convince me I really wanted to try the pork tenderloin special instead.

“It’s as tender as a mother’s love,” said manager Bill Grace.

My plate was waiting when I got there a few minutes after speaking to Grace, and I enjoyed my meal in the company of him and Shane Self, a Desert Storm veteran who is working at the lodge and does outstanding artwork, including the day’s illustrations on the menu board. Grace made a point of blaming chief cook Connie Messer for his increasing weight and belly girth, which prompted Self and myself to compare our own weight fluctuations. I suspect you had to be there, but it was kind of funny to hear three grown men talking about their weight-gain experiences.

 As promised, the pork was super tender (I didn’t even need to employ a knife) and the sides, roasted potatoes and glazed carrots, were simply perfect. I wanted to clean my plate, but I left two little bits of carrot and potatoes behind just to try and jinx the country-cooking effect Grace had just been talking about. Oddly, I was finished with my meal before I realized I had failed to get any form of bread to go with it.

I also had a chance to meet Messer, who informed me we actually met many years ago when she visited the Preston household in Johnson County while hanging out with my cousin, Sherry. Messer said the lodge has a few specials each month, including breakfast for lunch on the first Wednesday of the month, and famous baked steak on the second Thursday.

And, I have to give a salute to server Hayley Hammond. It was slowing down when I got there and a couple approached the hot bar to pay for their meal. Alerted to their presence, Hammond actually sprinted from the kitchen to take care of the couple, apologizing as if she’d done something terrible to them. It was a level of service I haven’t witnessed in quite a while. The lodge on Carter Avenue is open to the public for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 324-5720.

Follow up

I’ve also heard from a lot of people who read my recent story about a journey to the Bath County community of Preston, where I enjoyed a big bologna sandwich at an old-timey country grocery store.

Preston may be a small town, but it certainly has a lot of people who have a connection to Ashland. And, the subject of baloney sandwiches (I got a little upset at the editorial decision to change that word to bologna) has also proven to be a real conversation maker. Practically everyone I’ve talked to about the topic begins with “I haven’t eaten bologna in years, but ...” followed by glowing-warm memories of the meat product fueling a wonder-filled childhood.

An interesting side note has come from the opinions about what prepackaged foods are the best accompaniment for a bologna sandwich. A small bag of chips is probably the top answer, although bags of peanuts and different snack cakes follow closely behind.

And, in almost every instance, these conversations lead to the big jars you used to find on every country grocery store counter, containing different renditions of either pickled eggs or pickled sausages — always referred to as pickled weiners or hot weiners. The No. 1 side dish for such pickled products? Without question, that would be small packs of saltine crackers, or (if you had the extra spending money) a pack of Lance crackers.

While Ale-Eight was the most popular drink at Blevins Grocery, local grocery-store diners swear the best drink to go with a bologna sandwich or hot weiner was a big bottle of RC Cola.

Get him some Greek

Editor Mark Maynard asked an innocent-sounding question last week and I was surprised to find I couldn’t find an easy answer.

“Is there anyplace around here to get a good Greek salad?” he asked.

After a few minutes lamenting the loss of Chris’ Gyros in Ashland, we began brainstorming and found ourselves essentially with no good candidates. Ruby Tuesday, for example, has a great “garden bar,” but no Greek salad. I was almost certain a Greek salad could be had at Cheddar’s, although that was apparently just my imagination, too.

Someone in the newsroom found an online listing for My Big Fat Greek Feast at the Ashland Town Center, although I was unable to find additional information about the place. I made a quick call to the mall offices and enjoyed a great conversation with one of their staff (often focusing on things we can’t get for lunch in Ashland), who reported there is no Greek restaurant there, although there was once such a place at the Charleston Town Center. However, she did say Panera Bread has an excellent Greek salad, adding an endorsement for the new chilled shrimp and soba noodle salad.

I’m certain we’ve overlooked someone in this mini quest for a local Greek salad, so if you can help us out, shoot me a note or give me a call.

Tudor’s coming soon

After sitting there silent for a long time, work crews recently started renovations of the former Wendy’s restaurant on Winchester Avenue in Ashland to transform the place into the newest location of Tudor’s Biscuit World. In a town where biscuits and breakfast in general are considered somewhat sacred, I can’t imagine the place will be anything less than a smash hit.

I made a call to HQ to ask about an opening date, or just to get an update on local progress. I’m awaiting a call back on that and promise to pass the information along as soon as I get it.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at (606) 326-2651.

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