7070 State Rd. BB
Cedar Hill, Mo.
This was an ad-hoc plan B. We'd planned to go to Sorelli's in Cedar Hill, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, etc. As soon as we got there I had a memory flash. While looking up the menu earlier in the day, I had noticed a mention of a benefit auction for something. The parking lot was full. Ambulances in full show car mode, more than a dozen parked Harley's, many pickups and SUV's. They had quite the turnout. All three of us shy (run) away from crowds, so we didn't even need to take a vote, we were out of there.
We don't get to Cedar Hill often, it's not a very big town and it's not really on the way to anything we can get to on much less curvy, shoulder-less and narrow roads. This was highway BB, built to 1940's standards. A farm road built around farm property lines, streams, hills and creeks.
I'd been through Cedar Hill several times this year though, looking for churches. (long story) I knew there were other places in town, so did Angel. We had, in fact, just passed one. We went there.
The Dar-E-Kreme is in a standalone, one-story, wood frame building, 1940's or 50's vintage. It does not have a drive-thru, but it does have a walk-up window. there were a few picnic tables scattered around.
As the name implies this was an old-school Ice Cream/Burger joint. Those of us in my generation, especially those more rural of us, will fondly recall places like this. This is what constituted fast-food when I was a kid. Before McD's or any of the rest of the plastic clones of McD's. During long, hot summers people would line up for some soft-serve or a sundae. Dad might get a burger, a feast for the whole family. Ahh, memories.
We walked in and I realized that they'd clung to that nostalgic notion. They hadn't copied it, this was it.
The back wall was mostly menu, bright, colorful and in the very style of the old 'Dairy-Dips' of my long-ago youth.
The yellow and beige checker pattern linoleum tile floor showed its age, but was clean and wax-shiny. The floor sagged a little in the middle as is quite common in 50 year old buildings. The sag was almost not noticeable except for the big spinning, stainless steel ice cream machine behind the counter. the squared top of the machine was parallel to nothing. Also behind the counter, scattered around on every available top, were colorful, gallon sized jugs of various syrups for the sno-cones and other frozen treats.
This I knew to be a place for a quick, satisfying burger and fries. I knew that's what Adam and Angel would order, so I went out on a limb and asked for a fish sandwich and onion rings. I had a sneaky suspicion that the fish patty would be fast food square, not a filet as you may find in more upscale places. The fish patties of my youth, like the school cafeteria served. I didn't even ask, I just knew. Adam also showed some sense of familiarity when he ordered a double burger. He just knew that the meat patties would be small and thin. It was just so obviously that kind of place.
Angel made the order, I found us a booth in the back. The place was busy.
It wasn't very long before one of the crew members brought our tray with a smile.
My onion rings as well looked exactly as you would expect from a joint like this. Crispy brown, all the rings intact. The fish patty, oh that lovely fish patty met my hopes and exceeded my expectations. It was crispy, the fish itself flaky and it actually tasted like fish, not burnt cooking oil. Because there was nothing else on the sandwich, like lettuce or cheese, it was just the fish, a light dollop of creamy tartar sauce and my taste buds. What a delight. The onion rings were as good as they looked. Steamy real onions encased in a crispy batter. No flash, no added heat. Simple, nostalgic, not too heavy, not crowded with extras.
Angel and Adam were truly enjoying their baskets as well. The 'Double' was the perfect call, size-wise.
Both of them were quite happy with their meals, for the same reasons I loved mine. Dar-E-Kreme pulled it off, a simple, excellent meal.
Since we were surrounded by people coming and going with frozen treats, we were tempted. Quite uncharacteristically, we succumbed to that temptation. I decided to splurge and go for an ice cream sandwich. Not just any ice cream sandwich though. Here I had the option of a Dad's Original Scotch Oatmeal Cookie. I don't recall the other options, I knew Dad's. It's a St. Louis thing. Many eateries in the area have Dad's jars on the counter. These are old style cookies, the recipe for the Scotch Oatmeal is nearly a hundred years old.
We would be eating our treats in the car, it was pretty hot out, once again reminding me of the sweet and very sticky summer trips to the lake of my youth. Two-three inch cookies with nearly an inch if hard frozen soft-serve vanilla between them. Angel and Adam stuck with their favorites, a root beer float and a chocolate malt, respectively. I assumed they enjoyed them, I was too busy trying to catch the melting ice cream before it coated my arm and lap. I proudly and bravely hosted a small bout of brain freeze. Well worth it.
As you can probably tell by now, we loved the place. Simple, inexpensive (dinner minus the ice cream was just over twenty five bucks) and friendly. I was kind of glad Sorelli's was packed, otherwise we might have skipped around this small place yet again.
Sure, Cedar Hill is hardly on the way to much, but if you do find yourself in that area and want to hark back to the good old days, the real thing, not some plastic, industrialized imitation, this is the joint.