Some places have been around so long you just take them for granted. Take Diehl's Family Restaurant, a quirky restaurant full of racing car memorabilia serving good ol' fashioned comfort food.
Unfortunately, as some of us know, some restaurants that have been around for decades tend to live on reputation. However, if reputation means cooking from scratch and not taking any short cuts then I'm all for it. Diehl's takes pride in this and continues to implement what has made them so successful, as advertised on their place mats. Their biscuits, cornbread, and rolls are made from scratch, they peel their own potatoes, and soak and prepare pounds of pinto beans daily. Diehl's clientele range from retirees to young families, a good sign that pride and quality keeps this tenured eating establishment fresh.
When I last visited on a balmy Sunday evening in the summer of 2011, I was looking forward to a plate of the mid-south specialty, salt-cured country ham. My meal began with warm, toasty, slightly sweet cornbread. My country ham plate arrived with sides of pungent kale greens (a tub of vinegar served on the side) and firm, flavorful pinto beans with porky undertones, accompanied by a tub of raw onions.
The bone-in country ham was some of the finest I had, thinly sliced, firm, rugged, slightly salty but full of oinky flavor. My only gripe: there is not a drop of red-eye gravy to be found, and when I inquired with the young waitress who served me, I was shockingly surprised when she replied that she never heard of it.
Dessert was a tough choice, a toss-up between the regional favorite, graham cracker pie, and chocolate peanut butter pie. I chose chocolate peanut butter pie and my moment of indecisiveness was quickly forgotten after one bite. Moist, rich, and truly decadent, the peanut butter filling was more dense pudding than "butter."
Family restaurants which used to dot our landscape seem to be disappearing. Perhaps those that want to stick around for awhile can learn from Diehl's.