Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Eat'n Park

We were completely exhausted when we finally arrived at our hotel in Uniontown, and our first task was to figure out what to do for dinner. There weren't a ton of options near our hotel, so when I did all the research before the trip, I had bookmarked places as far away as Ohiopyle (about a 30 minute drive) and Morgantown, West Virginia (about a 40 minute drive). We were pretty tempted by a Kenyan restaurant in Morgantown (since there were no Kenyan restaurants that we knew of in NYC), but in the end, we were just too tired and sick of being in the car (and we had an early morning scheduled). There was an Eat'n Park down the street, so we decided to just go there. While A had been to other outlets of theirs before, I had only ever seen them from the interstate. Since they're a small chain only in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, it seemed appropriate that we would visit them during our Pennsylvania road trip.

Eat'n Park turned out to be the perfect place to grab dinner after a long day on the road, mostly because of their salad bar. Each of our orders that night came with one side, and instead of a side, we could substitute the (unlimited) salad bar for a few extra dollars. Unlimited soup and salads, tons of fresh vegetables after an exhausting travel day? Perfect. Of course we were going to do that.

There were a bunch of soups at the buffet bar, and I went straight for the wedding soup. Chicken broth, pasta, meatballs, vegetables, just a really soothing choice. It was getting really cool out when we arrived in Western PA (just a couple of days after near 100 degree temperatures in the middle of the state) and this soup was so incredibly comforting and warming.

In addition to make your own salad stuff which was all really fresh, there were also a lot of prepared salads at the salad bar, like cole slaw and beet salad and corn salad and many more. This was exactly what we wanted after a not so healthy (but tasty) lunch and all that time in the car.

After some soup and salad, our entrees turned up. A got the mushroom and onion burger, which they proclaimed had taken first place at some national hamburger festival. It came with grilled onions and mushrooms, as well as a choice of cheese (A got pepper jack). While the burger itself tasted fine, A wondered what other burgers it might have been pitted against to win that festival. It was good but nothing special.

I got the habanero chicken sandwich, which was described as "spicy cajun seasoned grilled chicken with our own jalapeno sauce, crisp lettuce, and topped with grilled bell peppers, habanero jack cheese, and thinly sliced red onions." The sandwich was pretty good - very basic but a good combination of fresh ingredients. It was a nice healthy choice, and I was all about trying to eat healthy that night.

Our sandwich and burger didn't come with any sides since we did the salad bar option, so we continued going up to the salad bar even after our entrees arrived. There was more soup to be had, like this chicken noodle soup, also perfect for a cold night.

We just couldn't get enough of all the fresh vegetables at the salad bar. It's not always easy to find affordable salad or fresh vegetable options when traveling (or even at home, really), as so many restaurants are so starch and meat based, that we loved having this as an option on the trip.

When we were leaving, we passed by a Smiley cookies display. I didn't know much about these at the time, but Smiley is apparently like a mascot for the restaurant, or as their website puts it, "a life-sized representation of Eat'n Park's commitment to making people smile." That's a philosophy I can get behind. The world needs more smiles.

We got a cookie on the way out to eat back at the room. It got a little cracked on the way back to the hotel. It was raining really hard when we were running from the car to the hotel's door, and I clenched hard on the cookie instead of just putting it in my pocket. From what I remember, this was like a frosted sugar cookie. It was a little bit harder than a standard sugar cookie, but it was obviously not so hard that it didn't crack.

We were pretty happy that we decided to stop at Eat'n Park that night instead of traveling further away. The food was good, and it gave us a chance to relax in a casual, comfortable spot close to our hotel. It was just what we needed before heading to Fallingwater early the next morning, and we were glad we went.

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