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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2011

More than food on the menu

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

Here's an example of unexpected fun you can have when you visit some of your local restaurants.

I was on one of my favorite drives into Fulton County, gazing at the farmland and hoping to see one of my pet subjects, a barn in good repair. That doesn't happen often enough anymore, but neither does a live band on a Monday night.

The large number of cars on the main street in West Unity caused me to stop and park some distance from Millers Restaurant. Something had to be happening to bring folks downtown. A live band playing and people dancing were the last things I expected in the small-town restaurant patronized mostly by townspeople.

But lo and behold, five guys were playing and singing country western tunes, seemingly as much for their own pleasure as for the customers who decided you don't have to wait for Friday or Saturday night to shake a leg. It was a slice of Americana that was so enjoyable I hung around and ordered fish and went to the salad bar.

The group is the Memory Lane Band and their gig at Millers from 6 to 8 p.m. every Monday night is just one of many engagements in this area. You can also catch them at Azul Tequila in Napoleon and Defiance and occasionally at the Club House and Yesterdays Bar in Ney, Ohio.

Don Bowdle of Edgerton, the lead singer, says the group mixes in rock and roll by popular demand. Other band members are Nick Elliott of Pioneer; Sherm Hathaway of Liberty Center, Ohio, and Bob Flory and Ed Partin, both of Bryan.

Breakfast at the Barn Restaurant, west of Delta, Ohio, just makes me feel good the rest of the day. It is one of those country restaurants where locals gather early in the morning to get their usual seat and to hash over the world's problems. I would feel guilty taking a booth or a table away from the regulars. The counter is a better seat anyway on Tuesday and Thursday when owner Judy Peabody is at the grill. She is like a magician balancing all of the orders and keeping them straight: eggs, up, over, over easy, scrambled, basted; hash browns, bacon, sausage, ham. The best parts are that the hash browns are dark and crisp, the toast is nicely browned, the bacon is done and crisp, and the oatmeal is old-fashioned.

It was one more time for the British Tea Garden in downtown Tecumseh, Mich. The last time I drove there was on a Sunday and it was closed at 4 p.m. It is always wise to check restaurant times when getting there involves a drive.

What was planned as a light lunch at noon on Friday turned out to be over the top because I wanted to try different menu choices. Which tea to order is the big challenge as there are hundreds in black, green, herbals, and rooibos categories. From the rooibos group from South Africa, the choice was Sweet Sin, flavored with dried raspberries, vanilla, and rose petals. That's a lot of flavors to add to tea leaves, but it had a pleasant aroma and according to the menu, it is the top seller. I must admit that with rare exceptions many teas taste alike to me.

Next time, it will be the Maiden's Lunch of brie cheese, assorted fresh fruit, and crackers. And, I suppose tea, even though they do serve coffee.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.



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