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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hot Beef in Lincoln

Harold’s Pantry (nee The Pantry)
v. Fred & Ruby’s Grill

Hot Beef Plate

By Jack Jackson

I hadn’t eaten at the Pantry at the Van Dorn Plaza in years, and that’s no exaggeration. It must’ve been at least fifteen years ago when I had eaten there last, probably with several family members who are now no longer on this planet.

From what I remembered, nothing much has changed. Harold’s Pantry is still a place for old white people, much like a Cracker Barrel. There were several elderly people eating peacefully, slumping from irretrievable calcium deficiency, hunching over their plates of food, depicting a very real memento mori.

But apart from this somewhat depressing gerontological atmosphere, the place is very clean, the service is very friendly, and it’s quite nice to eat there. I ordered the hot beef platter, which is oddly enough served on Tuesdays across the street at Fred & Ruby’s Grill in the Parkway Lanes. Both are excellent.

There are many similarities in the two hot beef plates: open-faced slices of Wonder Bread-styled white bread, then thin and lean real rump roast beef, add a decent scoop of real mashed potatoes, and cover it all with beef gravy. Normally I don’t like Wonder Bread-styled white bread, but it is somehow the perfect type of bread for this old standard.
The differences are that you usually get a small helping of corn on the side at Fred & Ruby’s grill, and the gravy at Fred and Ruby’s is clearer, most likely thickened with corn starch instead of flour. Both taste just fine, though.

So if you’re in the neighborhood and in the mood for a hot beef platter (add a tossed salad at Harold’s Pantry, too) [Maybe a smoothie, too?—Eds.], you really can’t go wrong at Harold’s Pantry or at Fred & Ruby’s Grill. Just remember that the hot beef platter is only served on Tuesdays at Fred & Ruby’s.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Maggie Osterberg said...

For my money, you can't beat the hot beef sandwich at Stauffer's Cafe and Pie Shoppe at 48th between Highway 2 and Old Cheney Road. They use the sweetest tasting pot roast for their beef and the soups are always delicious.

Try it with french fries and gravy instead of the mashed potatoes for a real small-town treat.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Stauffer's!! I keep meaning to get down there. Thanks for the reminder.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Wilson said...

French fries? With a hot beef sandwich? Instead of mashed potatoes? Is that legal?

And do you think I used enough question marks?

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Tina's has a great hot beef plate too.

Did anyone remember JJ Harder's review of the Pantry? He ended it with a line that made him one of my newspaper writers of all time. It was something like, "Go to the Pantry and soak up the atmosphere while those around you soak in their Depends."

Awful. And hilarious!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Hahaha, Gary. I remember that line. I think J.J. solidified his food writing cred for me with his review of Little Mexico which I'd say you could read at the links to the right but the DN has changed publishing platforms and all the links are dead. Will fix sometime in the future.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous maggie Osterberg said...

French fries? With a hot beef sandwich? Instead of mashed potatoes? Is that legal?

Like all really good things, prolly not. ;^)

I blame the Hilltop Cafe (RIP) in Oakland, NE for my addiction.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Wilson said...

Darn it, people, you got me to thinking about hot beef sandwiches so I had to go have one tonight.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous maggie Osterberg said...

Stauffer's Hot Beef w/fries

Yum!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

maggie, that picture makes me want to eat at Stauffer's for every meal, on top ya'll don't want to hear what I'd do with that sandwich.

I'd love more food porn on this site, I just never remember my camera.

10:02 PM  

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