Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Hickory Lake Inn

14592 Stone Rd
Newbury, OH 44065
(440) 564-9735

by Beau Cadiyo

I’d last seen the Hick after Frank Khan and I had met a girl, Frank Brennan, at Punderson, and she brought us there. We were definitely out of place – two young, highly educated males with all of our teeth and no prison records drinking with a bunch of people who were none of those things. (I’m not joking: none of the men we sat with had any degrees nor all their teeth, and they all had prison stories and accused each other of being bottoms.) They were eager to talk to us, though, and extremely warm and welcoming.

I returned, almost by accident, with Frank James, an old college friend. The Hick hadn’t changed – it was still run down and the clientele still looked a little worse for wear. On second view, though, I found it more open and bright than I remembered, and it was clean and orderly. The clientele, while perhaps only remembering better days, were warm, welcoming and friendly to both each other and to us newcomers. It was a community, the kind I’d be hard-pressed to find in any city.

We sat down and ordered two Dortmunder Golds, and Frank went outside. The bartender said “three-fifty,” so I took Frank’s five dollar bill and my five-dollar bill and gave them to the bartender. He came back with six dollars and fifty sense. “Excuse me, sir?” I said, “I think you gave me back too much.” He looked and said, “No I didn’t. It’s three-fifty.”

$1.75 per beer. We weren’t in Cleveland anymore.

Reasoning that I had some cash for food, I ordered a fried fish sandwich. The barman offered regular fries or sweet potato fries. Normally, this might not raise eyebrows, but context is everything: at the Hick, I didn’t expect the relatively posh luxury of sweet potato fries, just like I wouldn’t fly coach on Southwest and expect the choice between peanuts and Beluga caviar for a snack before takeoff. I’d choose salted peanuts over caviar any day of the week, and regular fries over sweet potato, too.

It was a good choice: the fries were crisp yet tender in the middle. The fish was hot, crisp and had little breading – it was not the best I’ve ever had but it was far, far better than I would have ever expected. The bun was soft, and the lettuce and tomato was fresh; the tartar sauce, served on the side, was average but seemed somehow excellent.

When tipping, Frank started berating me for leaving change. She argued that it was rude to leave change, and that only bills are acceptable tips. First, I didn’t care, and second, it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would object to receiving more money in tips in metal form than paper. She sulked out, angry, while I finished my beer. Then, we got in the car and rode back to the city in silence.

Hickory Lake Inn on Urbanspoon

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