Thursday, November 8, 2012

Postcards From Tioga-Hammond Lakes: Gramma's Kitchen

There is one book that I love and refer to every time I am planning a vacation or even just a day trip, ROADFOOD.  This book is a collection of some of the fun, out of the way restaurants that we make a point of finding if we are traveling anywhere near them.

The book's description reads as follows, "The coast-to-coast guide to 800 of the best barbecue joints, lobster shacks, ice cream parlors, highway diners, and much, much more..."

The husband/lover/best friend and I have stopped on our travels at numerous of the eateries written about in this book, and as a result have enjoyed some unique and quirky decor, and delicious meals.  Some of our best trip memories are of the ROADFOOD places we have found.

However, "Gramma's Kitchen" is not in the ROADFOOD book.  It.  Should.  Be.

We had been given an insider's tip about this little restaurant, that went like this:  "It's not much of a place to see.  In fact, if you don't know where to look, you might not even find it, but all the locals go there and they love it.  You'll be lucky to find a parking spot.  However if you're in the area, you should go and eat there.  It's a great place."

While on our camping adventure in the Tioga-Hammond Lakes area of north central Pennsylvania, we found ourselves in need of some supplies.  So, we decided to take a scenic drive into the town of Mansfield, where our internet indicated there was a Super Wal-mart.  (Neither of us could believe we were actually going to a Wal-mart on vacation, but when you're out of potato chips and ice cream, things get serious.)

We decided to use the opportunity to try and find "Gramma's Kitchen", and after a few passes back and forth on Main Street we did finally locate this tiny restaurant.  If it wasn't for the small sign out front, we never would have found it.

And yes, a parking lot on the side was quite full.

I love finding unique eateries, and like many of these places, this little shop had its very own story to tell.

A plaque in the foyer next to a picture of an elderly woman read, "In loving memory of Margaret Morgan."

As the story goes, Margaret established her little restaurant on October 24, 1988 in her small home.  The business flourished, and her dream became to one day move to a larger location nearer to the interstate exit.  Unfortunately she passed away before her dream became reality, but this little place is still doing one heck of a business.

After our friendly waitress filled us in on the restaurant history, I asked her what on the menu was good.  She chuckled and informed us that "it's all good - everything is homemade."

As we waited for our meals, we took in our surroundings.  Some people-watching indicated that the clientele spectrum went from young Mansfield University students to elderly locals.  This is definitely a place the locals frequent.  Slips advertising an upcoming local craft fair were clipped onto the napkin holder on each table.

Taking in the layout of the place, we couldn't miss the in house bakery.  Many folks were buying small 40 cent loaves of various breads on their way out.  We counted 12 tables and 8 barstools at the counter. Behind the counter and bakery case we saw 9 employees scurrying about, prepping and cooking the food.  The place is so small we even had a view of dirty dishes being loaded into the dishwashing machine, and we were puzzled as to why the plates were always loaded bottom to bottom.

The food arrived, and it was all good, as advertised.  I had ordered a cheesesteak sandwich, and it came loaded and dripping with all the goodies that make a cheesesteak a winner.  Bob had an order of creamed dried beef on toast, along with pancakes, and he was not disappointed either.  We would definitely go back if we were in the area.  

The only problem I found is that I was just too full to enjoy any of the pastries in the bakery case that had been sitting 3 feet away from me, looking at me, distracting me, the whole time I waited for and then ate my lunch.

When the waitress brought our bill, I told her I write a blog, and asked her if they have a website where I could find more information about the place.  She gave a hearty laugh and shook her head no.  This place truly has all of its business due to satisfied customers' word of mouth recommendations.

Although we didn't have space for any desserts, we did experience a treat on the way back to our campsite.  We noticed this tree with 3 bald eagles perched on it a ways back from the highway.  

Here is a closer view of the big guy on the left:

A closer view of the 2 on the right side of the tree shows that one of the birds is a juvenile:

After this unexpected treat, we returned to the camper.  The weather continued to be cold and rainy, so husband spent several hours organizing all the directions and papers that came with the new camper into a large binder, not that men ever need to or plan to read directions.  Me?  I turned on the electric fireplace, curled up in a cozy afghan, and poured through several magazines of holiday crafts.  

Just another fine day of great camping.  Ahhhhhhh.


  1. That sounds like a place I would enjoy eating. Glad you were able to find it.

  2. Sounds like a fun place to eat. Awesome that you spotted those eagles!

  3. Where do you buy The Road Food Book?

    1. The first time we bought it at a Border's bookstore. The newest version we bought through Amazon.com. I'm sure a Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore could order it in for you if they don't have it. I believe it was either $14.99 or $19.99. (Sorry our books are all packed away as we are in the middle of an office renovation!)