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At the Bayshore Supper Club in Oregon, waitresses recite "would you like" litanies (Garden salad, cole slaw, cottage cheese, or applesauce? Hash browns, home fries, mashed potatoes, french fries, or baked potato?).
The clock stopped about half-past 1970 at this roadhouse and it has some odd contrasts: cloth napkins and tablecloths dress it up a bit, and a refrigerated case just inside the front door stocked with six packs of beer and candy bars, lend a carry-out feel.
Clientele, well-settled into retirement, are repeat customers who don't have to Google their way to this off-the-beaten-track eatery for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Coming from downtown, the drive along Front, Millard, Otter Creek, and Bayshore provides a fascinating glimpse at industries we pay little mind to: the Port of Toledo, electricity generation, train yards, refineries, water treatment. Mixing drinks and visiting tables is Sonny Berry who bought the place in 1985 and once thought about building a motel and marina here.
Bayshore's Web site mentions its lake view, and an inlet can be seen from the modestly sized windows, but the prominent features are a big gravel parking lot stretching to a scruffy water's edge, a few remnants of a dock, and funky cottages next door. Mounted next to a window, a bird feeder on a utility pole has the unintended consequence of also serving as a bird-waste receptacle. An outdoor deck isn't near enough water to hear the lap-slap of waves, but would be inviting in temperate weather.
It's surrounded by parking lots, and entering the first time into what looks like a neighborhood bar is a little disorienting. Given that the two dining rooms are plain and outdated, dinner prices seem high.
I found little that was remarkable, but a nice touch from days of yore is the red relish dish full of pickled and fresh condiments (radish, green onions, peppers, leafy celery, carrots). Salads are simple but with a delicious deviled-egg half and some swell dressings (loved the sweet/sour house and the mild, chunky blue cheese, both mixed in the kitchen). The cole slaw is among the few items that are homemade, and it's crunchy-creamy.
At dinner, there's a basket of cellophaned bread sticks and crackers, and rolls that aren't worth the calories. Most appetizers are deep fried, and the coconut shrimp with marmalade for dipping is a sweet treat.
Dinner fare is largely steaks and seafood. Two rectangles of broiled salmon ($15.99) were a little dry and chewy. Baked catfish ($13.99) was a large, satisfying portion. My companion had one of her Lake Superior whitefish ($13.99) pieces baked with lemon and seasoning, the other deep fried into what looked like a long curving tongue, both acceptable. New York strip steak ($18.99) was a fair cut but cooked medium instead of the medium rare I'd ordered. Nice presentation, though, topped with two onion rings.
We had an early seating and baked potatoes were right out of the oven, steamy and perfect.
The highlights of a weekday lunch included crispy hash browns with onions (which weren't as good at a subsequent meal). Our server said my whitefish fillet ($7.25) would be dusted, not dredged in a thick coating as were the perch and pickerel, but it was too thickly coated for my taste. Tartar sauce in little paper cups looked as if it might have sat a spell.
My companion's cheeseburger ($5.75 with fries and cole slaw) got off to a good start: Easily an inch thick and exuding a meatloaf-y aroma. But that happy meal turned sad when she spotted a hair in the ground meat. The hearty might determine burger hair to be beneficial fiber, but for her, it was a meal breaker.
Needs improvement: The tiny bathroom had an overflowing waste basket. And while I chatted with a server, she brushed crumbs off a table onto the carpeting.
Weekday dinner specials, $15, are perch on Monday, pickerel on Tuesday, seafood platter Wednesday, and frog legs on Thursday.
Contact Bill of Fare at email@example.com.
Address: 5307 Bayshore Rd., Oregon
Hours: 8 to 11 a.m. breakfast; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. lunch; 2 to 8 p.m. dinner Monday through Thursday. Dinner hours extend to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations suggested for parties of 5 or more and on weekends.
Wheelchair access: Ramp leads to a side door which can only be opened from inside. Bathrooms not accessible.
Average price: $$
Credit cards: AE, Dis., MC, V
Web site: www.bayshoresupperclub.com