The waitress sat us immediately and gave us menus. A hard decision faced us: what to order? Three times the waitress returned as we changed our minds again and again. We were so very hungry. My meal came with the salad bar, which offered instant gratification. The professor chose shrimp slammers for an appetizer and a bottomless cup of strong coffee.
The salad bar offered the usual -- broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, croutons, grated cheese and sliced mushrooms -- along with offerings that said "German food." These were my choices. The small-curd cottage cheese was salty and tasty. The apple butter was thick and rich. The coleslaw was cold and slightly sweet with bits of carrots. The pickled beets and eggs were mild in flavor.
The professor was delighted with the shrimp slammers. Six butterflied shrimp were filled with a mild Monterey jack cheese and deep fried. The result was delicious. Appetizers finished off, the professor sat back, took out his iPod and was happy to report, "This place has a wireless connection to the Internet." But he did not have long to be online before our main course arrived.
He had ordered the special -- fried fish, coleslaw and waffle fries. He was happy that neither fish nor fries had been salted, so he could season them to his taste.
The pork chops I ordered were breaded and pan fried just like grandma used to make. The serving of two big pork chops was generous and delicious. The salad bar was included in the price of $13.99 as was one side and a freshly made roll. I chose a baked potato which came with sour cream and butter.
The Web site claims that Weaver's has food that grandma would make. I remembered reading Michael Pollan's "great-grandmother rule" in his book, "In Defense of Food." He wrote, "Eat food your great grandmother would recognize." Well, my grandmother and the professor's grandmother would have recognized this food and indeed cooked food just like this -- delicious, real, plentiful and cooked to perfection.
Three waitresses were on duty and each wore black pants and a blue chambray shirts with embroidered Weaver's logo. They were attentive. When I shared some of my pork chop with the professor, a waitress noticed and brought over a serrated knife, saying, "You may need this."
Sated at last, we sat back and looked around. Most noticeable was that the restaurant was immaculate. And then we noticed the attractive décor. The walls were hung with framed prints -- Washington D.C., in the snow, patriotic moments in a family's life, twilight in American cities. Longaberger baskets were displayed on shelves interspersed with crockery sitting on blue checked cloth.
Weaver's was quiet. This was a place I could bring my mother, and she would be able to hear the conversation.
Owner and manager Penny Pittman was present. She made coffee, handled sales, worked on schedules, filled out forms with her staff, put away boxes, talked with customers. The presence of the owner changes the dynamics in a restaurant. Staff and customers know that the owner cares.
Next we noticed our fellow patrons. A Hancock policeman ate with a business man. At another table sat a contingent of five men with name tags identifying them from the Mormon church. A son helped his elderly father into the restaurant. Pairs of traveling men sat in the booths, ate quickly and were on their way. A lone man sat at the counter and talked to the waitresses. And then a trio of women came in and headed for the salad bar.
Finally, we were ready for dessert. Lemon meringue pie for me and caramel apple nut pie for the professor. The waitress warmed it for him. The pies alone were worth the trip.
4 1/2 (out of 5)
Food: 4 stars
Service: 5 stars
Ambience: 4.5 star
Value: 4.5 stars
Address: 77 W. Main Street, Hancock
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Style: American casual