Every time we visit Idle Isle, we find ourselves astonished and delighted that it still exists. A piece of culinary history that opened for business in 1921, it is the sort of cordial town café once found on Main Streets everywhere. In the twenty-first century, its charm is a rarity. Merely walking in the door is enough to lower your blood pressure. Carpeting keeps sound at a pleasant hush and fans spin slowly from the high ceiling; only the occasional whir of the milk shake machine or the hum of an electric lemon squeezer (for lemonade) rises above the chatter of the good citizens who eat here.
You can have a lovely burger and a malt at the marble and onyx soda fountain; and there is a slightly more boisterous back room with oilcloth-covered tables where regulars congregate at noon; but the choice seats, at least for us travelers, are in polished wood booths up front, each outfitted with a little ramekin of Idle Isle apricot marmalade for spooning onto the fleecy rolls that come alongside dinner. Blue-plate fundamentals include divinely tender pot roast with lumpy mashed potatoes shaped like a volcano crater to hold gravy as well as such daily specials as Wednesday braised beef joints, Friday trout, and Saturday prime rib.
Serving sizes are temperate, so you will have room for Idleberry pie – a resonating purple blend of blue, black, and boysenberries – or baked custard pudding, which is simply the tenderest food imaginable. “I’m sorry,” says our waitress Cariann when she places a jiggly bowl of it before us. “The pudding might still be a little warm. They just took it from the oven.” An apology is hardly necessary: Balmy, smooth, golden-sweet, this is food fit for the god of comfort.