The Blue Top Grill menu lists seafood, sandwiches, chicken wings, and vegetable plates; and the blackboard always features a meat-and-three meal that can be pretty darn good. I love the flounder, and most of the vegetables are far above average. Of special note is collard kraut, a brilliant mix of sauerkraut with greens, the tang of the former mollified by the chlorophyll punch of the latter, and the bitterness of the greens balanced by the spice of pickled cabbage.
Many steady customers know this country diner for its hamburgers: small, large, or double, with or without cheese, with French fries and/or onion rings. They are hand-pattied irregulars, about 1/3-pound, cooked through but thick enough and fatty enough that they ooze juice – juice that carries tides of beef flavor. They’re burgers that are so well accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise all piled into a big, spongy bun. Need I say that there is nothing artisan or upscale about them? A large one costs under $5. But price, however low, is no object when appetite demands a good, old-fashioned, lunch-counter hamburger, made from scratch and with skill, served in a place without airs or pretense. On those occasions when a Blue Top burger is exactly right, a $50 Kobe beef burger in the swankiest New York bistro would be sadly inadequate.
Indeed, what I like most about getting a hamburger at the Blue Top Grill is the Blue Top Grill itself. Not far from Route One as the highway heads southwest towards Augusta, the little wood-sided diner has been serving hot lunch to the community for well over 60 years, and while it has been fixed, remodeled, and refurbished over the decades, it doesn’t really look it. Like a favorite old pair of slippers, it is worn in the most comfortable way, its booth upholstery on the verge of disintegration, its walls decked with memorabilia, its staff on first-name terms with most of the clientele. I noticed that some customers do not actually place an order when they walk in the door. They simply confirm that they are getting the usual. Large windows up front allow the kitchen staff to see outside and to start preparing regular customers’ orders before they walk in the door.