HERITAGE FOODS helpings from history
Good ’N Plenty Restaurant,
Still in its infancy compared withe many other restaurants, Good
’N Plenty has been offering what it calls “authentic Pennsylvania
Dutch cooking” since 1969, in a farmhouse built in 1871.
Located in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish Country,
the restaurant features traditional family-style dining.
Menu dining is an option, but more customers go for family-style, says co-owner Glen Lapp, whose grandparents were
members of the Amish community and whose parents launched
the eatery 48 years ago. Lapp says Good ’N Plenty started out
modestly, with seating for 114 guests. In 1971, however—after
being open just two years—the owners added the Dutch Room
and expanded capacity to almost 600.
Popular appetizers include chow-chow (a sweet/tart relish made
with green beans, wax beans, cauliflower, lima beans, whole-kernel
corn, onions, peppers, green tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and spices),
and pepper cabbage (finely chopped cabbage and green peppers).
“We’re famous for our fried chicken, which is served every
day along with two other meat dishes. Pork and sauerkraut
is a favorite,” says Lapp. Guests gobble up such hearty sides
as mashed potatoes, browned-butter noodles and family-recipe sweet corn. Ice cream and fruit pies are on the dessert
menu, but many guests opt for Amish specialties, such as the
shoofly pie made with molasses, brown sugar and shortening,
or cracker pudding, which combines vanilla, salted soda
crackers and coconut.
Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, Connecticut
Opened in 1898, this lunchroom says it invented hamburgers.
Even though others dispute the claim, it certainly is true that
Louis’ has been making them for a long time. And, says fourth-generation owner Jeff Lassen, they are still being cooked to
order in the original cast-iron, gas-fired stoves used in 1900.
“We continue to rely on the original recipe, too—fresh beef
that is ground daily and hand-rolled, with an option of onion,
tomato and/or cheese. The only secret is our proprietary blend of
five cuts of beef,” Lassen says. One other distinction: no buns.
Louis’ serves its burgers on Pepperidge Farm toast.
Besides sponsoring visits for schoolchildren and selling T-shirts
and sweatshirts, Louis’ has built its reputation via television coverage,
including appearances on The Food Channel and Travel Channel.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House, Philadelphia
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected and McGillin’s
opened in Philadelphia. It survived the Civil War, the Great
Depression and even Prohibition.
“Over the years, we’ve adapted as needed to keep in step
with changing rules and customs,” says Christopher Mullins
Jr., younger member of the father/son team that now owns the
business. “For example, during Prohibition, we served ‘tea,’
and now we focus on regional craft brews—we began that
even before it was trendy.” There are also three house beers:
McGillin’s Genuine Lager, McGillin’s Real Ale and 1860 IPA,
all made by Stoudts in Adamstown, Pennsylvania.
“Ma McGillin used to give out free potatoes,” says Mullins’
Tadich Grill, San Francisco
father Chris. Sustaining that tradition, McGillin’s still gives out
free homemade soup with every lunch. “Guests help themselves
from an old-fashioned self-serve kettle. And the food is just
good, homemade comfort food, which never goes out of style.”
Today, says Christopher Mullins, “Our signature dishes
are the shepherd’s pie and the mile-high meatloaf. The best-
selling items, however, are just good, authentic sandwiches.”
These include cheesesteak, featuring lean sirloin steak topped
with provolone cheese, the RB McGillin, a hot roast beef with a
secret rub and “sultry” horseradish that is listed in the menu as
bar manager Gabrielle Gock’s favorite, burgers—beef, turkey or
veggie—and a triple-decker club that can be made with either
turkey or roast beef, plus bacon, lettuce and tomato.
Born in 1849 in the thick of the California Gold Rush, the
Tadich Grill lays claim to being the oldest restaurant west of the
Mississippi. That tradition means a lot to the people who run it.
“We know that when people come here, they are here not only to
be fed, but to experience things as they once were. We pull the
chairs out for ladies, carry their drinks to the table and do not put
up with rudeness,” says David Hanna, general manager.
He acknowledges that the Tadich has a reputation for being
“gruff,” especially among people who have not yet been there.
But, he insists, “We just know and maintain our standards. We
won’t bend to every whim.”
The bill of fare also emphasizes the past while making a few
concessions to contemporary trends. “We aren’t organic, and we
still serve liver and onions, beef tongue and lobster Thermidor,
items you won’t find on many menus anymore,” Hanna says.
At the same time, a nod in the direction of modernity is to use
sustainable ingredients where possible.
The most-discussed dish at this storied restaurant is the
Hangtown Fry, an oyster and bacon frittata. “It was said to
have been created in Placerville, California, formerly known
as Hangtown,” Hanna says. “Condemned inmates asked for it
as their last meal, knowing that getting bacon, eggs and oysters
together would take longer and extend their lives by a few days.”
Another story is that a prospector struck it rich, went to the
El Dorado hotel in Placerville and plunked down his gold on OPPOSITE: Grilled oysters at Union Oyster House.