“What’s good to eat?” we ask the uniformed waitress when she steps to our booth.
“You are at Shady Glen,” she responds like a schoolteacher addressing especially slow students. “At Shady Glen, you must have cheeseburgers!”
Amen to that good advice. Although this fine old Yankee cow-country dairy bar has a menu of sandwiches and hot breakfast and is justly famous for ice cream, its way with cheeseburgers puts it in a class by itself.
The meat is not extraordinary and the cheese is merely tasty, but assemble the two of them together on the Shady Glen grill and magic happens. Three or four slices of cheese are carefully placed in a mosaic that extends far beyond the edges of the burger as it cooks, so the cheese melts directly onto the surface of the grill, turning chewy and crisp. The hamburger with its soft cheese on top and its halo of textured cheese all around is hefted onto a bun to become one memorable sandwich!
A boat of condiments is brought to every table — relish, mustard, ketchup, raw onions — and tomatoes and lettuce are available if you want to be deluxe. Good slaw and French fries come on the side of a cheeseburger plate; and the great thing to drink is an old-fashioned milk shake, the first serving of which is carefully poured by your waitress from its tall silver beaker into a glass. Of course, she leaves the beaker on the table, from which you’ll pour a couple of refills.
All kinds of milk shakes are available, taking advantage of Shady Glen’s huge repertoire of ice cream flavors — from chocolate and vanilla to frozen pudding, grape-nuts, and Almond Joy. Fruit ice creams are made from fresh fruit from local and regional farms and available topped with a semi-sweet chocolate sauce that hardens as it hits the cold ice cream and turns into fudgy chunks. In addition to the regular list of flavors, Shady Glen has seasonal varieties, such as Christmas ice cream (with red and green cherries) and Thanksgiving ice cream (pumpkin-flavored).