Rock Hall/Triple D Trip – Day One

28 Mar

What a great day – a dad and two sons, hittin’ the road.  We got out the door about 9:00 AM, and made it exactly two minutes away – to Starbucks.  Once properly caffienated, we motored.  Our first stop?  The South Side Diner and Soda Shop, Goshen, IN.

First a bit about motoring – last year about this time we bought the car we drive now, a 2011 VW GTI. This thing is wonderful for the motorsports lover/driver that also needs reality in the insurance cost, the price tag, fuel efficiency and practicality.  A  back seat like a limo, combined with a short overall length, wheels pushed way out to the corners for great handling, light weight, tons of power and VERY fuel efficient.  From Chicago to Goshen we averaged 34.5 MPG, and then from Goshen to Cleveland, a little faster leg in terms of road speed (78 mph avg), we got 33 mpg.  Fantastic.

Ok, so on to Goshen and the South Side diner.  Goshen is this nice little midwestern town – seems to be about the same size as the town I grew up in, Newton, IA.  Tidy town square, a business district with a combo of local retail, professional services, dining, bars, etc.

The South Side Diner is about 3/4 of a mile south of the town square on Hwy 15/33 in Goshen – Main Street.  It looks a bit like a train car at the front, and inside is pure vintage diner – black vinyl booths, laminate tables, authentically vintage marketing signs and local school spirit signage.  Goshen is close to Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, as well, so plenty of Fighting Irish stuff too.  The owner of the diner, Nate, is so proud of his place and couldn’t stop talking about it.  Once he heard we were on a cross country “Triple D” trip, he spent 10 minutes talking to us, telling us about his home made bread, their award winning pies, how he imports his hoagie rolls from Philadelphia, etc.  Wow.

When you walk in, instead of a typical greasy diner smell, we were met with the overwhelmingly wonderful smell of freshly baked bread and pies.  They had just pulled out a large sheet pan with 10 or more big loaves on it and were cooling them on the counter – they bake much of their own bread.

They are very proud of their Philly cheese steak sandwich, their chili, their pies, their liverwurst and bacon sandwich, and their bread.  I was so enthralled with the bread that I had to go simple.  We ordered – Alex got a Philly Pizza sandwich – a Philly cheesesteak with pizza sauce, Brian got a New Englander Burger, which was a burger on homemade English Muffin bread, and because I had to have some of that wonderful bread, I went simple -a grilled ham and cheese.  We added to that a basket of their special curly fries and a chocolate shake to share, in addition to our soft drinks.  The food started to quickly come out, and last out was the shake.  The Philly Pizza sandwich was immense, the burger less so, and my ham sandwich was stacked tall but not obscene.  My sandwich was incredible – I had the “Swedish” bread which was pinwheel rye and pumpernickle with a great crust.  Ham was carved off the bone of course, and the cheese was melted perfectly. Heaven.  Their curly fries are different – they are flat swirls of fried potatoes, and honestly, needed an additional fryer run for crispness.  The shake was wonderful – we had a chocolate malt and it was that perfect thickness.  We capped it all off with a slice of Lemon Meringue pie.  Wonderful – creamy, tart curd with a huge mountain of meringue.  The bill was all of $32.00 before tip – and as we were checking out, we realized we were part of 3 different families there doing the Triple D thing – a family going west from Hoboken NJ, and another dad and two sons headed east – though they were going to the football and baseball halls of fame, versus the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Onto the road again after a cheap fill of gas ($4.09 versus $4.40 in Chicago) and it was onwards to Cleveland.  We arrived into town about 6:00 Pm, checked in, got a drink at the free cocktail reception at our hotel (Embassy Suites), and then out to dinner.  Stop #2:  Geraci’s.  Geraci’s is an old-fashioned family Italian restaurant.  According to the Triple D segment, it is owned by an old couple in their 80s, and their daughter, in her 50s,runs the place. Didn’t see any of them there tonight.  A decent sized crowd was there.  We ordered a large pepperoni pizza, an order of their Chicken Parmesan and meatballs – the ChixParm came with a side salad, which I promptly ate up.  First out was the pizza and OH MY GOD.  This is seriously among the best pizzas I have ever had – it’s not thin crust nor deep dish – a crisp-bottomed crust that was nicely thin but not cracker like, thick chunky tomatoes, and the pepperoni was obviously hand-sliced off sticks. Their ovens must be really hot – the crust had a good crunch on the bottom, and the cheese and tomatoes were browned and caramelized on top, and the pepperoni was curled and browned.

Next was the Chicken Parm – again, OH MY GOD.  The sauce was thick tomato-basil sauce with a unique, meaty flavor. We found out the reason for that in a moment.  The cheese was special mozzarella that they have made for them, and the chicken had a wonderful crust with a bit of a crunch, and was perfectly cooked and not at all dry.  The final item to come out was the meatballs – we ordered one but they brought two.  These are handmade every day out of a mix of beef and veal, with a substantial amount of Romano Pecorino cheese, plus seasonings.  Then they are first roasted in the oven to brown them, and then they pour tomato puree with basil and onion over them – and cook them the rest of the way – and that’s when we found out the secret of the sauce!  It’s the sauce they make the meatballs with!  Everything had such broad and bold flavors, but perfectly balanced.  Fantastic food.  I would seriously make a trip to Cleveland from Chicago just to eat at Geraci’s.

After that, we’re just chilling at the hotel.  A wonderful day.  Rock Hall tomorrow!

A few pics below, will upload a Flickr album later in the week.

As you were,

Stew

At the South Side Diner:

Downtown Goshen:

Alex and is Pizza Philly

Brian and his burger

Lemon Meringue Pie

In South Side Diner:

Geraci’s

Pepperoni Pizza

Alex enjoying pizza

Brian with his pizza

Chicken Parm

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One Response to “Rock Hall/Triple D Trip – Day One”

  1. carpetbagger March 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Next time you’re driving by Toledo, try Tony Packo’s. It’s been there forever. Was often mentioned by Klinger in M*A*S*H. Try the fried pickles.

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