It has been said that food is the foundation of comfort.
When you think about it, food is involved in almost everything we do. It is the center of celebrations and gatherings. When we want to catch up with friends or family, a common thing to do is meet up with them for a bite to eat.
Winter’s icy grip tends to bring out our comfort food cravings, fueling the desire for warm, sensational homestyle meals. As winter lingers, and those stir crazy feelings begin to overwhelm us, the idea of staying in to cook seems less attractive.
“We go out for this ‘home cooked delight’ because of the convenience,” says Joda Wunderlich, an Appleton resident whose family heads to Third Street Diner in Menasha for home cooking about twice a month.
“Have you ever made a home cooked meal? It’s quite a process,” she says. “I have our family recipe, but why make the mess at home when I can get them at the Third Street Diner?”
Appleton’s Lisa Blohm agrees there is a guilty pleasure to eating home cooking you don’t have to cook at home.
“Sometimes you just want to be waited on,” Blohm says. “When you do, you want that ‘comfort food’ that is home made, not from a bag or a can or injected with preservatives.”
Fortunately for Wunderlich and other Fox Cities residents, feel-good omestyle food surrounds us, with several restaurant options available when the mood strikes. Restaurants like Mary’s, Third Street Diner and Galvan’s are perennial favorites when it comes to “cooking most like mom’s.”
It seems everyone has a favorite dish when they go.
“The Lumberjack skillet or any of their breakfast skillets because everything is on one pan and it is served with pancakes, biscuits and gravy,” says Blohm, who visits Galvan’s two the three times a month. “My girlfriend comes here from Kentucky and this is one of her restaurants that is a must for breakfast.”
For Wunderlich, it’s the potato pancakes at Third Street Diner.
“They are, of course, made from scratch, just like my grandma used to make,” she says. “Often times we go there just to have them and the very first bite brings me ‘home.’ ”
While the meals could be made at home, sometimes people just want to be taken care of rather than spending the time in the kitchen, says Michelle Kampo, owner of Third Street Diner.
Particularly in those dark days of winter when the cold keeps you indoors most of the time.
“Who wouldn’t want someone to take care of you for a while,” says Kampo. “Why deal with all the shopping and the leftovers and the waste if you don’t have to. It’s more economical to go our for home cooking sometimes.”
While certainly well known for their potato pancakes, she says three of the most popular homestyle dishes the diner serves up are beef pot roast, meatloaf and liver and onions.
“People love it, but it can stink up the house,” she says.
At Mary’s, it’s the broasted chicken that is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, but the eatery is also well known for its soups.
“Our soups and broasted chicken are hands down the most popular meals that customers are always coming back for,” says Amanda Purdy, manager of Mary’s Family Restaurant on North Richmond Street.
Mary’s has won the FOX CITIES Magazine Golden Fork Award for “cooking most like mom’s” several times. What really seems to drive diners, though, is the fact they know that even while they are eating out, these homestyle meals are made from scratch just the way they – or their mother – would make them.
“They use fresh ingredients,” Blohm says of her favorite Galvan’s. “They make their jelly and jams from scratch weekly. They make their own pies from scratch also. They are amazing as well.”