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Mrs. Gibble's Restaurant

November 02, 2003

By E.T. MOORE

With the recent cooler days and nights, hearty autumn foods come to mind, and Mrs. Gibble's Candies and Restaurant specializes in two local favorites, pork tenderloin and corn fritters.

My two dining companions and I ate in Mrs. Gibble's wood-paneled dining room on a recent weekday evening. The print on the menu is rather small, but we managed to find our favorites: steak, corn fritters and pork tenderloin. Mrs. Gibble's best-selling entree, pork tenderloin, is hand-cut on the premises and flavored with a secret recipe of spices. Two moist, succulent pieces are $9.50, and three pieces are $11.75.

One of my companions ordered broiled haddock, which we all tasted. Perfectly seasoned, it was cooked properly.

I ordered my Delmonico steak medium rare, and that's how it arrived. It was perfectly marbled, fork tender, and held excellent flavor. The Certified Angus Beef is marinated in a secret blend of spices and is available in 7- or 14-ounce portions. I had 7 ounces, and it was just the right amount, considering all the vegetables included in the $12.75 price.

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Salad, lima beans, corn fritters, mashed potatoes and gravy were brought to our table on a cart and served family style. The tossed salad was unremarkable - lettuce with small amounts of purple cabbage and carrots. The mild sweet-and-sour house dressing made it palatable.

The limas seemed watery, not nearly as tasty as the home-grown ones we're used to.

My friend said that the mashed potatoes "taste like something Mom beat up," a high compliment. But the best of all were the powdered sugar-topped corn fritters. Stacked in a pyramid on a small metal plate, the brown globes were dense, moist and hot, with a generous amount of whole kernel corn.

Our waitress offered us more vegetables, and we certainly could have eaten more corn fritters, but we wanted to save room for dessert.

While waiting for our selections to arrive, we looked at an autumn display on the mantel over the large, out-of-work fireplace. Young families and senior citizens shared the space with us, and many of them seemed to know each other.

Atmosphere and dress at Mrs. Gibble's are casual. Portraits of Ray and Mary Gibble, who started the restaurant and candy business more than 20 years ago, hang on the wall of one of the two dining rooms. Service is prompt and polite, and the dining area clean and spacious.

Mrs. Gibble's offers chicken prepared five different ways, including house specialty sautéed chicken livers, and a 7-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast sautéed in mild barbecue-Cajun sauce.

Several of the meats and seafood, including grilled sugar-cured ham, beef liver and onions and the pork tenderloin, are available in regular and petite portions.

Two Family Platters of meat are offered. The pork tenderloin platter is 10 pieces for $21.95, and the fried chicken platter has 12 pieces of crisp fried chicken for $15.95. The menu instructs diners to order vegetable plates for each person at the table for $3.95 each when having the meat platters.

The lemon sponge pie at Mrs. Gibble's is rich, lemony and not overly sweet, with a tender crust. My pumpkin torte tasted creamy and light, with a cream cheese layer, topped with a layer of pumpkin and finished off with whipped cream.

I agreed with my dining companion's observation: "Mrs. Gibble's is homey. It's like going to your grandmother's house. They may not be the most up-to-date on decorations, and there isn't a real wide menu selection, but what they do, they do right."

Her mother added that the food we ate was "as good as home-cooked food."

Adding to that feeling was the daughter of the founders, Vernice Eshelman, greeting customers by name.

Our restaurant receipt entitled us to a piece of candy for 25 cents at their candy store next door. Besides a wide selection of regular and sugar-free candies, the store carries frozen tenderloin and chicken breasts, pies and the house salad dressing. A small deli case holds chicken and pork entrees, ready to microwave at home.

Mrs. Gibble's Candies and Restaurant

n Food: 4 forks (out of 4)

n Service: 4 forks (our of 4)

n Atmosphere: 3 forks (out of 4)

n Value: 3 forks (out of 4)

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