Good home cooking continues to be found as we put the Midwest behind us. To celebrate paying off our trailer at a US Bank branch in Sheboygan, WI and to put a couple persistent hangovers at ease after way too many with the Schwabenlanders, we stopped in Brillion, WI for fuel and decided to grab lunch somewhere.
There was Mom’s Place Family Restaurant in a plain building with laundromat next door. And there was an authentic looking roadside diner with Rudy’s written in neon and a sidewalk sign promoting the daily special of Roast Chicken. The choice was simple.
As it turns out, Rudy’s Diner opened in 1939. And I doubt the dining experience at this checker-floored, chrome-stooled, small-boothed diner has changed much since then. I pondered the daily special but my stomach pleaded for a burger to soak up all the remaining pear wine. Thanks again Dave. But when I overheard the chipper young waiter “always recommend the meatloaf” to another customer, something told me I had to have it. I compromised and ordered the meatloaf sandwich with fries. Quickly regretting I may not get the whole experience, I asked for a side of the optional mashed potatoes and gravy. I was in no way sorry with my decisions.
I probably hadn’t eaten homemade meatloaf since I had my mom’s as a child, and all I remember about that is it required lots of Heinz 57 Ketchup. Rudy’s was beefy and tasty and got right down to unadulterated business on thick fluffy home baked white bread. Yes, white bread that even René enjoyed with her delicious grilled cheese sandwich, prepared my favorite way – the only way. No, not “pan fried” but on a grill! That’s why they call it a grilled cheese sandwich. But, digress I do.
“I watched two hefty guys come in, sit down in a booth and order the meatloaf special. It’s something they do regularly, I later learned.”
Biking and eating one’s way upstate
Apparently Rudy’s meat loaf is well known, attracting many regular customers, many of whom seem to have been dining there quite a while. The photo above is credited to Don Piele and appears on his Café to Café article for Silent Sports.net (Thanks Don).
I laughed at Don’s article, because I believe the same two “hefty guys” he watched “come in, sit down in a booth and order the meatloaf special” were at Rudy’s again when we stopped for lunch. Don added, “It’s something they do regularly, I later learned.” And this must be the case because there still doing it years later. The only date on Don’s article is at the very bottom and it reads “Site last updated 9/02/05.”
I will give Don credit, however, for his in depth account of Rudy’s, complete with historical facts and pie review. Perhaps had I felt better I might have finished my sandwich, had pie, and struck up a conversation with our waitress. I probably would have discovered a thing or two Don missed. She easily looked as though she might have still been serving there since 1939.
Fear not, our hangovers were cured and our remaining sandwich halves went well with the big salad we had for dinner. It was good to have something green on our plates again after too many drunken dinnerless nights.