Back in the day, my grandfather became famous for a certain immortal line uttered when discussing dinner options: "I want a platter."
In other words, he had little use for the typical menu found today in many lower-priced establishments: wings, pizzas, burgers/fries, etc.
He'd have liked Raub's.
This little throwback establishment, complete with orange Formica tabletops and lots of brown booth woods – on the main drag in Plymouth and "family owned since 1924" – serves up plenty of platters while still reaching out to the pub-fare crowd, with the wings and burgers, yes, but also all kinds of crazy footlong dogs.
But mainly, think downhome dinners – meat, potato and vegetable – arranged unfussily on oblong white platters.
We had roast beef and "famous meatloaf" – and a taste of chicken croquettes – and were mightily impressed.
It's the homemade stuff that grabs. The sides are pretty standard and often from a can – green beans and corn and other such basics – but you can't complain when the main dish wows as it does.
Roast beef is just one example. The $8.95 plate, served with choice of potato and vegetable or, for $1.75 more, a tossed salad, contains a towering mound of home-cooked, hand-sliced, oh-so-tender roast beef covered liberally in a rich brown gravy.
"It's like two pounds of beef," an impressed guest observed, offering to share. One taste and I concurred with the assessment that it tasted fresh from grandma's Sunday kitchen. This was the kind of beef that's perfect all on its own or heaped on a hot sandwich, too. Versatile.
A side of coleslaw also impressed the same guest, who is quite particular when it comes to her slaw. Must be creamy and smooth with no chunks of red-skinned potatoes or similar business. This incarnation met all her specifications.
Raub's "famous meatloaf," also $8.95 met mine, for sure. Two large, lean slices of fork-tender meat were packed with flavor and didn't require a single shake of salt. The beef gravy was paired with this perky, old-school-style homemade loaf. I asked for it on the side but quickly applied every drop of it to the meat when I realized how good it was.
A side of potato croquettes was my tasty accompaniment, a lightly fried (thankfully) sort of mashed potato in a cute, manageable ball-shaped package.
The same concept applied to the homemade chicken croquettes, ordered simply out of curiosity. The three-piece order resembled and sort of tasted like a plate of chicken meatballs. Breading was exquisitely light, and the light-colored gravy added extra zing and was poured generously enough to spill over onto a side of accompanying french fries.
The prevailing sense is Raub's homemade is where it's at. Soups were swell, too. A cup of famous chili, dark brown in color and beanless, contained some lovely, tender pieces of pulled roast meat inside a well-seasoned, thicker base. Texas-style. Full of style.
In contrast, homemade chicken noodle soup was light and fresh, with large chunks of white-meat chicken stealing the show.
Dessert? We passed. Too full. But we did read about it on a cute chalkboard wall, on which were written all manner of specials. Homemade pies seem the thing here.
And hot dogs. Big hot dogs. Wrapped in bacon and even beef and then topped with chili and cheese. Come hungry, the signage advises. We'd say so. Not sure we're coming back for these out-there dogs, but they do sound fun, as did a whole host of steaks and seafood, lobster included, and eight different burger platters, including a breakfast burger with fried egg, cheese and bacon and a meatloaf burger with the fries inside the sesame roll. Now that might be worth a revisit.
As would a nice breakfast menu that contains all the favorites plus a few extras, such as stuffed french toast and Belgian waffles. A "miner's breakfast" sounded cool, too: any omelet plus homefries, sausage, bacon, toast, juice and coffee.
Makes you want to get up in the morning. But if you miss it, lunch and dinner here more than do the trick.
Where: 509 West Main St., Plymouth
Credit cards? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Hours: 7 a.m-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
Times Leader food critics remain anonymous.