The Restaurant Sampler
Gatesville Store Breakfast
The pursuit of a professional dining career knows no boundaries of time or place. One must be aware of opportunities of many kinds, sensitive to different sorts of ambience and style.
Accordingly, I set my compass, and my alarm clock on another sort of restaurant adventure, a journey into the delights of breakfast in the country.
Arising at first light, I pointed my trusty vehicle northward on Salt Creek Road, a lovely autumnal journey through a beautiful Brown County countryside awash in the reds, golds and gray mists of early morning.
My destination was the tiny hamlet of Gatesville in northeastern Brown County, up in Hamblen Township, and what surely must be the only dining establishment there, or, in fact, within a 15 mile radius, as the crow flies.
At the intersection of Salt Creek and Gatesville roads (at the “Entering, Leaving Gatesville, Indiana” sign) lies the Gatesville Country Store, a rustic, homey, people-friendly, typical country store with a deli case, a counter and a few tables in one corner.
In addition, on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7:00 to 11:30 a.m., the little grocery features one of my favorite dining concepts, the breakfast buffet.
It just sounds good, doesn’t it?
A perfect way to begin a weekend day.
I’ve always been fond of the breakfast meal, especially when someone else is cooking it. It just seems a bit much to go to all the effort and expense of whipping up a major breakfast for oneself. Surely a bowl of cold cereal is more practical and efficacious.
However, on occasion, especially when someone else’s best early morning efforts are involved, one enjoys the full array of breakfast opportunities and the Gatesville Country Store’s offerings do not disappoint.
On a long table off to one side the large chafing pans are lined up, happily steaming. There are eggs, of course: scrambled eggs with cheese; and also a kind of loose omelet, scrambled eggs with bits of onion, sweet peppers, mushrooms and cheese.
There is a large pan piled high with perfectly-cooked strips of good bacon and another stuffed full of sausage patties. Yet another serves French toast.
All good, all good. But I had known from the start, from my first waking moment, that my morning’s destiny was to consume that most delightful and blessed of breakfast concoctions, that essence of farmhand food: biscuits and gravy.
There’s something about a meal of biscuits and gravy; so simple, yet complex; filling, yet leaving one filled with the desire for…more biscuits and gravy.
The biscuits were large and fine, not handmade, surely, judging by their uniformity, but, still…crusty on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside, hot and fresh. Perfectly serviceable. The gravy was as I like it, fresh, steaming hot, with a perfect creamy consistency, and loaded with hunks of sausage.
Was there ever a more delightful concoction for a morning meal than plain old biscuits and gravy?
I ask for milk, and get a plastic bottle of milk from the grocery cooler that holds soft drinks, cold cuts, and other grocery store stuff.
The dining area is crammed with things to look at: newspaper clippings and interesting art, a giant sawmill-sized saw blade with a painting of what appears to be the Gatesville General Store, or some scene much like it. There are some concessions to the visitors—old-fashioned candies, preserves and such, some books and pamphlets, the occasional copy of Our Brown County.
The early morning traffic picks up momentum. Local farmers prepare to begin their day, a few hunters are already back from early morning forays. Gatesville General Store serves as a deer and turkey checking station and sells fishing baits and the kinds of snacks an outdoorsman can shove into his pocket. The display of many various kinds of jerky is indeed impressive.
They drink coffee and discuss the events of the day, occasionally breaking into laughter; an easy give and take of neighbor and neighbor that gives life and joy to the morning.
The Store offers a variety of great pizza, which can be eaten there or carried out. Call ahead at 988-0788 and it’ll be hot and ready to go when you get there.
There is also a good variety of sandwiches, along with side dishes like potato salad, cole slaw—everything that goes into a nice picnic or fisherman’s lunch.
Peeking under some foil-covered dishes sitting atop the now quiet deli case, I discover one last dining delight, big beautiful deep-dish pies with thick, homemade crusts.
Now, I am no great respecter of conventions and traditions, but after a wonderful and complete breakfast, it just felt somehow wrong to ask for a slice of pie. I didn’t really need it, anyway. I just wanted it.
Oh well, I reflected contentedly, sipping on one last cup of good, hot coffee before slipping away into the flow of another Saturday morning, its always best to leave a little something to be discovered at some later date, on some other dining adventure.
For the time being, I was stuffed with sausages and eggs and biscuits and gravy, comfortably ensconced just as if I were a regular patron, charmed by the charms of rural Indiana folks.
And I was a profoundly satisfied man.