It's not too hard to find the CornerStone Inn once somebody shows you how to get there. When you're told that it's at the corner of Curtice Road and Curtice Road, you realize it's time to fold up the map and ask roadside directions. But make no mistake, the CornerStone, an old house that's grown by additions and rearrangements here and there, is worth finding. The grilled pork chops alone are worth the trip.
Mind you, the CornerStone is not a white-tablecloth temple of gourmet dining. It's a down-to-earth, family-operated eatery, more country than urban: an informal gathering of folks, young and old, to celebrate life at its most basic, rejoicing in the abundance of the earth.
What makes the restaurant easy to identify when once you arrive at the correct corner is a canopied stair to the front door. If you're not much for stairs, there's a three-step side entry. Either way, you find yourself in a large, fully stocked bar with stools - empty every time I've been there - and oilcloth-covered tables, and there, at the end of the bar, a host/hostess. The dining room beyond looks as if it was originally a dining room, living room, and sun porch all in a row, with enough of the past on the walls to conjure a thought for the lives of family and friends for whom this was home.
The kitchen staff is not large. It's principally Chris and Barb, the proprietor couple. Barb, I was told, specializes in the red-meat entrees, and Chris, as perhaps befits a salt-water veteran of World War II, the somwehat longer seafood list.
The aforementioned pork chops, the server told me one evening, are the CornerStone specialty. Two breaded, grilled chops look a bit skimpy until the guest discovers that they are an entirely adequate serving. The boned, trimmed lean meat from the center of the chop is lightly seasoned and thoroughly cooked, yet tender and moist.
Applesauce was one of the choices of sides that are offered with an entree, and it seemed an appropriate selection in place of a salad. In addition, a sprightly potato casserole was a good pick. Other potato options were baked, fries - looking hand-cut and nicely crisp - or mashed.
While all that was coming together in the kitchen, I was pleasantly occupied with a vegetable soup that was a stranger to a tin.
Curious to confirm the grill-mistress's mastery, I had a small filet mignon one evening - medium rare, if you please - and found in it confirmation that the skill reflected in the pork chops was no fluke. A filet, after all, is not a very large piece of meat, and keeping it from overcooking beyond rare or medium rare is no mean trick.
Onion soup au gratin is on the regular menu, but it seemed a bit heavy on a hot, humid night, so I opted instead for a small but adequate cup of chicken noodle. The soups, by the way, come very hot from the kitchen; keep the water within easy reach during the first few spoonfuls.
As it happened I never saw a seafood entree (including pickerel, perch, and frog legs) that captured my imagination, but a couple at a neighboring table were oohing and ahing over scallops; it was, alas, too late for me to change my order.
Daily specials are posted on a standing, bright sign by the canopied entrance. Inside, service is warm, helpful, and immediately friendly.
Depending on where you're coming from, there may be more convenient ways to reach the CornerStone, but a sure route is to go east on State Rt. 2 (Navarre Avenue) and not too long after you pass Pearson Park, turn right on North Curtice Road. The restaurant corner is about two miles down.
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