1615 N Meridian St
Portland, IN 47371
Date of visit: November 28, 2011
Sunday morning, we continue to head back home from our workcation. We had spent the night in a Holiday Inn Express in Portland Indiana Extra resources. Last evening we experienced a gastronomic adventure at Ming’s Garden, today, however, was a new day with a promise of better food down the road.
We managed to arrive at this Holiday Inn Express early evening, about 9:30pm as dinner at Ming’s was over before it actually began. We were surprised that the Holiday Inn was empty; I think we may have been the only guests. The desk clerk explained that they were too new to be crowded? Nevertheless the accommodations were fine, we were comfortable, no worries that night.
We had made reservations at this particular Holiday Inn Express, hundreds of miles before we actually got there because we mistakenly assumed most hotels and inns would be completely booked – after all it was Thanksgiving travel back to home weekend. We knew from past experience if you don’t book early you might end up sleeping in the car under the bright parking lot lights of Wal-Mart. Not very comfortable and no free coffee in the morning.
After a good night’s rest and less than 4 hours travel time from home we decided to extend the trip and planned to drive home on back roads, but first things first, coffee and breakfast. Typical of all Holiday Inn Expresses hotels is the “free” breakfast bar which includes coffee, juice, powered eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy and assorted toasts and sweet rolls. This one was no different. Their breakfast bar was set, everything was steaming hot but no one was there to enjoy the food. The place was deserted. I believe this was the first time I found one of these breakfast areas completely empty. I helped myself to a cup of Holiday Inn coffee, doctored it up with the half and half creamers and my choice of sugar, and immediately dumped it out after the first sip. Strange taste; years of drinking coffee makes me my own caffeine connoisseur- their coffee didn’t pass the taste test. Besides I definitely wasn’t interested in eating powered eggs with bad coffee; I wanted to go to McDonalds. And there just happen to be one down the street from the Hotel. (I had seen it when we pulled in last night.) So I was confident all was not lost. However, my SO had other ideas. He said we could experience the local fare, and after last night, he guaranteed it had to be better.
He drove us to Richards Restaurant, a short ride from the Holiday Inn Express, and in the right direction, toward home. (He found Richards with our GPS.) Richards is situated on the corner of a strip mall. The restaurant occupies a building that resembles another restaurant from some other time – perhaps an International Pancake House. There is plenty of room to park in front; Motorcycle parking would not be a problem.
By my standards we arrived early in the morning, about 9am. The place was not really crowded, we were free to select our own seat so we sat by the window in a booth. The wooden booths along the wall, and several free standing tables and chairs complements the décor, old fashion and quaint. The kitchen area was in view and directly in front of it is eat at counter area for those who like to eat while perching on a stool, to watch the cooks at work. We didn’t’ see many people working. And the few patrons that were there were scatter about. Most of the diners seem to know the wait staff calling each other by their first name.
We ordered the usual: two coffees with cream and the normal request: give us time to look at the menu please. That was the beginning of the last trip ever to Richards Family Restaurant. The coffee came, steaming. No cream. I don’t do black coffee some type of milk is a must. I asked for some creamer. I waited, waited some more, getting sleepier, getting bitchier from caffeine withdrawal to the point where I asked my hubby to go into the kitchen and get some creamer or ask someone eating in the dining area to share theirs. As he was getting up, (he don’t like nagging) a different waiter appeared to take our order.
I immediately asked the waiter for the little creamers, half and half or whole milk (by the way there’s and interesting blog on creamers) even coconut oil based creamers would be acceptable. She stood there and wanted to take our order making no move to appease my caffeine beast. Time was wasting away; my coffee was seriously getting colder. I wasn’t happy. Richards menu (on that day) was printed on their place-mat and up until that point I hadn’t really consider anything but coffee. As I looked down at the food choices, just to move this scenario along, I ordered the first thing I saw, the Richards Sampler. That was one egg with one biscuit covered in sausage gravy, with home fries and three strips of bacon. I wanted the egg over medium, she offered juice, I declined, and do I want water and so forth. I didn’t want a conversation I wanted cream for the coffee. But it wasn’t happening, even though I mentioned it at least three times while she was writing down Richards Sampler and her other notations.
My husband’s turn: He did the Breakfast Special, two eggs with home fries, toast, and breakfast meat. Just for the record I personally do not like to see breakfast choices described as “breakfast meat”, that just doesn’t sound appetizing.
She finally left, and I mistakenly thought she’d be right back with cream. But no, she waited until she brought our food and asked if there was anything else we need. Yes I said cream for the coffee. “Oh, I knew I forgot something” and she trotted off to find some.
She returned, in about five more minutes with an old fashion hinged stainless steel creamer. The outside of the creamer wasn’t shinny, it was dull, complete with finger prints. Okay, I thought, this is a community creamer, she must have taken off another table, no problem. As a habit I look at things before I ingest them or use them. I opened the lid to see how much cream was left and there stuck to the inside of the container was a white greyish mass, that looked soft and resembled just what you’re thinking.
When I showed this atrocity to my SO, he did what I think most men would do, put his finger down the side and pull out this white mass of unknown substance. On closer inspection it might have been oatmeal. I played with my egg, ate some biscuit didn’t drink the coffee or water and tried to flag down the waitress for a clean creamer and fresh coffee. Finally out of desperation, brought on by my bitching I’m sure, my husband got up and went to the kitchen window and told whoever was standing there that there was a foreign object in the cream, could our waiter bring a clean creamer and a fresh cup of coffee, please.
Our waitress returned with a different stainless steel cream container, I asked if they have the little half and half creamers, no. She waited at our table until I looked in the container which seemed clean. The coffee was hot, however when I put the cream in it, the coffee turned a murky gray – not that brown color coffee takes on when you add cream. She must have seen the look on my face, and explained that they had mixed the cream in the back and put it in these old tins because their delivery guy never came with the creamers that weekend. Needless to say the coffee was awful and I couldn’t eat thinking, was that really a blob of oatmeal, dissolved creamer or something left by a disgruntled diner?
And then a couple sat in the booth behind me. These diners immediately started coughing and hacking, talking loudly to each other about the cough medicine they were waiting for and they felt well enough to eat that day after being sick for days and coughed some more. I wanted to leave.
My husband scarfed up his breakfast and left heading in the wrong direction from home, back to McDonald’s, where a fresh coffee and egg MacMuffin was waiting for me.
As we were driving down Rt 27, with Richards Restaurant miles behind us as a bad memory there before us was Richards Restaurant. For a split second I thought we were going in circles, then I realized Richards wasn’t a little hole in the wall, Richards is a chain.
In all fairness I really didn’t taste the food, my mind and stomach couldn’t handle it. My husband seemed to like his breakfast; he did eat all of it and drank the coffee. This may be a good Biker stop – lots of room and bad coffee (just kidding) but I have it rate it low, the coffee issue lowered my expectations. On the plus side the meal was cheap.
Total cost before tip: $11.00