There is a place I love to go where there is clean air, good food, and lots of truck drivers. This is a haven for pit stops and homecooking; a place where I know all the waitresses' kids and can kindly seat myself. This is no ordinary sit-down establishment, this is Phil's Homemade Restaurant in Hanson, Massachusetts, the place I love to go.
Upon entering this sacred bliss, I am forced to turn my eyes toward the bakery counter where mouth-watering lemon squares call my name and the Boston cream pies wink in my direction. I try to resist the temptation of ordering the foot-long cinnamon twists but they seem to stand up and beg for me; I buy them for an after-dinner treat.
Rounding the corner, I'm met by a cardboard sign announcing the specials of the day (and they possess a Braille menu). I walk down to the smoking section. On the way, I receive nods and smiles from the counter and the air conditioner blows the sweet smell of brewing coffee my way. I sit at a bright orange booth and peruse my placemat which has more of the menu printed on it. A young waitress brings me water with ice and yet another menu. I usually look it over but I have discovered that even the items on the menus do not compare to the Monday Special. With smoke from my cigarette blowing every which way I snuff the stupid thing so that the waitress can bring forth my "home-cooked" dream meal.
The onions are thick and the croutons and cheese are soggy and melting from the steaming hot broth but, no matter, this is the best onion soup I have ever had. Each spoonful has to be cooled so that I can savor the taste without burning my mouth. It goes down warm and so sweet that I actually think I close my eyes to this ritual. The last drop is slurped and I think I am satisfied until she brings out my fried chicken. Six tender strips of all-white boneless meat, deep fried and so crispy that my mouth gets a workout every time I chew. Underneath, almost covered by this mass of post-cluck, are the sainted fries. Each one tastes like the chef slaved for hours to perfect the individual crunch and ability to hold ketchup.
I am in home-cookin' heaven by the time I am finished with my meal. I think about how funny it is that anyone could ever overlook this little place. The menu is full of home-cooked favorites from the breakfast, lunch and dinner selections. It's almost too hard to find something you don't like. I just hope the 18-wheelers don't keep the public from experiencing the best food on the South Shore. Even the ketchup is good. Trust me! n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.