Now, I know that out of all the people (all dozen of you?) who visit this blog with any regularity, almost none of you are from Michigan, and the ones who are live waaaaay down at the other end of the state. But...should any of you ever be traveling through the unpopulated hinterlands of The Water-Winter Wonderland, and find yourself nearing Clare -- "The Gateway to the North" sign's right there on US-127 -- take the exit and find the East Fifth Street Diner, just east of the main drag. (5th Street becomes old US-10.)
This newish bistro, which has limited breakfast and lunch hours, is my new favorite place to eat out. It occupies a building formerly home to a series of short-lived culinary and hygienic horrors; now it's spiffed up inside and out. It's run by an ex-executive chef from the UK with quite a colorful career culminating in his retirement to this most unlikely of places. All the food is made from scratch, from local products when possible.
Because of the diner's popularity, whenever I've tried to eat lunch there on my occasional jaunts through this city there have been absolutely no parking places anywhere near. Today, however, I was in town before the big lunch crush and -- whoo-hoo! -- got the second-to-last space in the lot.
The menu features lots of comfort food, all made from scratch -- pot pies, macaroni and cheese and such -- as well as interesting sandwiches and salads like turkey/cannelini, and daily specials. Craving iron, I chose a hot home-roasted beef sandwich topped with what looked like Stilton cheese and spicy pickled onions. It came with a most unusual homemade potato salad that included shreds of boiled ham, what looked like Swedish brown beans and a creamy, pleasantly understated herbed dressing. Mmmmm...mmmmm.... And decent coffee. Pleasant waitstaff. A cozy, cheery atmosphere that I wished I could have lingered in a bit more.
All of which goes to show that you can do things a quality way or a crappy way, so you may as well do things the quality way; and that even people in the ruralest of rural areas will appreciate it.