Back in the day when Brighid was little, 50s Prime Time Cafe was the place to go for really delicious, homestyle comfort foods. But more than that, it was the place to go for an experience like no other – where you became part of the “family” dining at Mom’s table – complete with Mom yelling at you and making you stand in the corner if you talked back. Or didn’t eat your veggies. Or you put your elbows on the table. And if you did manage to make it through your vegetables, Mom – or a cousin – would hand you a ViewMaster dessert menu, taking you right back to your childhood (or your mother’s childhood) while you perused options for your sweet reward for suffering through the green beans.
On our recent visit, we were pleased to see the menu with which we have become so familiar. Mom’s pot roast – a table favorite – it perfectly tender, shredded into delicious gravy covered bites, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies you totally don’t mind eating, because they are so perfectly cooked and flavorful.
Cousin Ann’s meatloaf, although flavorful and delicious, was a bit on the dry side. Nothing a few squirts of ketchup didn’t cure, but the ketchup then overpowered the yummy glaze. Served on a bed of the garlic mashed potatoes, it’s about as close to Mom made as you’ll find.
Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken won tremendous praise at our table. Golden and crisp, the chicken had the perfect crunch without an abundance of grease (take that, Colonel Sanders). There were those garlic mashed potatoes again, and sweet corn, adding a comfort-ful side dish to an already homey plate.
The one health conscious person at our table ordered the chicken Caesar salad, and claimed it delicious. And really, in these days of diets and fad food trends, is there anything more classic than the chicken Caesar? It has become almost as comforting as pot roast and meatloaf.
What our experience lacked was the fun factor. I’ve heard before that they no longer use the ViewMasters for dessert due to health concerns, with the toys being so close to so many eyes. I guess I get that. But even the interaction with the servers has been greatly curtailed over the years. Our waiter, Cousin Richard, was nothing more than a sarcastic, bitter, hating his job type of guy who couldn’t wait to be done taking our order and moving on. And while Richard was one of the worst we’ve had in a while, there is no more real home atmosphere, where mom is yelling at you for something and someone is getting in trouble. I was told by one server that people didn’t like being told to stand in a corner, so they scaled back that type of interaction, but it was a huge part of the fun of the experience.
Would I recommend this restaurant? Highly. It’s still great fun to see and be transported to the 1950s. The food is still very good overall. The peanut butter and jelly milkshake is still one of the best milkshakes – anywhere. But I would tell folks who were there a long time ago to curb their expectations. What used to be good food and great fun is now great food and good fun. It’s still a must do for my family.