Friday, April 9, 2010

It Was All About Chicken Pot Pie

My favorite traveling companion has been craving chicken pot pie. And where to better find it than a diner?

The plan was to visit our Aunt Evie, laundry in tow, and, while the wash was agitating, go to lunch. After examining some different options, Chuck mentioned his search for the aforementioned chicken pot pie and Evie suggested the 5 & Diner in Scottsdale.

“In 1989, 5 & Diner was created as a place where people would be transported in time to a place where life was simpler. In the process Ken Higginbotham created the legendary 5 & Diner Restaurants. The no-holds-barred 50’s flashback theme with affordable, top-quality food including award-winning burgers and shakes…The 5 & Diner has become a landmark in Phoenix and a tradition for many, including movie stars, sports celebrities and our faithful guests.” (From the restaurant’s web site.) (In 2008, Bob and Laurie Watson purchased the Franchise Rights and Trade Name “5 & Diner” and plan to expand the concept to a nationwide chain of diners.)

With its black and white tiled floors and bright red ceiling and accents, the décor is intended to transport diners back to the 1950’s – what I call the “golden days of my youth.” The juke box selections reminded me of Dick Clark and American Bandstand. (“I give it a 90. It has a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.” If you understand this, you are as old as I am.)

The 5 & Diner is known for its hamburgers, and I will admit that I was tempted. Selections included: the Bleu Moon Burger—a mixture of bleu cheese crumbles blended with cream cheese and topped with Monterey jack cheese; the Garlic Mushroom Burger topped with Swiss cheese and a blend of sautéed mushrooms and garlic; the BBQ Burger topped with mild cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, and onion straws; and The Big Bopper Burger—a double-decker burger with melted American cheese and special sauce.

But we both wanted old fashioned down to earth comfort food. Food like chicken fried steak, fish and chips, steak tips, pot roast (well, not me), shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, or the turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, and a buttermilk biscuit. And there it was. The answer to Chuck’s craving. Homemade Chicken Pot Pie with pieces of chicken, carrots, peas, celery, and rosemary potatoes with a flaky pastry top and served with a side salad. This was a mammoth portion of food filled with meat and veggies in a, to me, somewhat thin gravy. But the flavor from the rosemary potatoes permeated the entire dish with flavor. And guess what he ordered on the side? As if the potatoes in the pot pie weren’t enough, he ordered mashed potatoes with chicken gravy. He was a happy man.

I ordered the Cadillac Meat Loaf and my serving was equally mammoth. Three thick slices of molasses glazed savory and juicy meat loaf were topped with chopped bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and onion straws and came with red skin mashed potatoes and steamed veggies (broccoli and cauliflower). This could well be the best restaurant meatloaf I have eaten. Both the onion straws and the molasses glaze gave the dish a slightly sweet flavor. The beefy gravy was thick with mushrooms. And I, no mashed potato lover, ate every speck of my serving. I probably should not admit that most of my steamed veggies went back to the kitchen. Needed to leave room for dessert.

While Chuck and I were partaking in this exercise of gluttony, Aunt Evie was eating light with a side salad

and a large bowl of the restaurant’s homemade vegetable soup.

My decision to scrap the steamed veggies was rewarded. Chuck and I shared the Cookie Shake, a thick combination of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream and crumbled Oreo cookies. It was served, just as in the past, with the silver shake container on the side. The glass for Chuck. The silver container for me. Perfect.

As we slowly made our way out of the 5 & Diner (Who could move fast after all that food?), we had fond memories of the day we spent with Aunt Evie and our 4.0 Addie meal.

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