THE MORNING AFTER: ON THE ROAD EDITION
DIXIE LEE FAMILY RESTAURANT
(147 Front St. ∙ Spanish, ON)
THE FAM: Chris, Grandma & Jakob
ALL-DAY BREAKFAST: YES
COFFEE/ESPRESSO BAR: NO
COFFEE INCLUDED: NO
FREE REFILLS: YES
HP SAUCE: YES
PATIO: NO (but there are picnic tables out front)
Spanish, Ontario. Population 750 (although the sign claims 1100). Located about half way between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, situated on the Trans Canada Highway and acting as the 'Gateway to the North Shore' of Lake Huron is this quiet little town. A town where the four seasons are almost winter, winter, still winter and construction and a town I know all too well having spent the first 18 years of my life there. On the west end of town, you'll find a big red roof housing the Dixie Lee Family Restaurant (formerly The Picnic Basket), a small franchise specializing in chicken and fish, but not doing too shabby a job where breakfast is concerned.
bacon, ham or sausage
THE FOOD: Pretty standard for this type of small town establishment. The super-thick texas toast and bacon fried to perfection definitely stood out. The potatoes however, done noticeably different than usual were the only downfall to the breakfast. Pan fried and lightly done, they were not what I was expecting, nor were they my preference. However, Diane, the owner, made a point to recognize and justify their preparation to me before I could even take a bite.
THE PRICE: Just like the wait (which I'll be getting to soon), the price was virtually non-existent (not to mention my loving grandma picked up the tab). In total, the bill couldn't have added up to more than $6 per meal before ol' Provincial and Good & Services took their cut. That's a price not even granny could argue with.
THE SERVICE: Unmatched as always. Before I could even seat myself, I heard from over my shoulder, "'Mornin' Chris. Coffee?" This being said to a guy that pops in 5, maybe 6 times a year at best. As I said earlier, my wait was virtually non-existent. I ordered, popped out for a quick smoke (which got me some disapproving glares from grandma), and by the time I got back, my breaky was sitting there, awaiting my arrival.
THE AMBIANCE: What can I say? I grew up eating here, and it's barely changed a bit. Sure, I may have an emotional bias, but to me it feels (and sounds and looks and tastes and smells) like home. I admit, it can be be way to f'in bright and the thought put into the interior design has been lost and fallen off over the years (with a mish-mash of signage and knick-knacks both franchisee and otherwise), but that's just one of many things that earns this place it's character. The great thing about Dixie Lee is although it franchised not long ago, nothing has really changed aside from the name and the many tasty additions to the menu.
After 5 hours on the road, having left Toronto at 4:30am and arriving at 9:30, nothing could have beat a satisfying breakfast. If you find yourself in my old neck-of-the-woods (literally), remember that Dixie Lee is just around the corner, and if the potatoes are done right, you'll want to hole up at Vance's Motor Inn just so you can do it again the next day.