I'm on the road again. This time, I mean it literally. It's just me, my GMC Sonoma and the open road, thundering through the hinterlands of Pennsylvania and New York State on the way to new adventures in another country: Canada.
I feel as though I've been travelling a lot this month. Just a week or so ago, I was Mexico City for the Compentencia Mexicana de Baristas and now I'm going to Toronto for the Canadian National Barista Championships. This trip to Toronto really is an unscheduled one for me and that's why I'm driving - to save money. Flights from Baltimore cost $400, plus car rental and it gets expensive. Drive up and spend $200 on gas. And I've done the nine hour drive before so it's no big deal.
The biggest problem about a road trip is eating. No matter where you go across this great nation, the food is just crap. McDonald's, diners, what have you - it's all the worst processed food our nation can throw at us. National chains and just general poor eating. The road signs are no help because you see the same crap mile after mile and since you're not a local, you can't possibly know the good places to eat because they're unknown.
My first stop came early because I was starving. McDonald's. I used to love McDonald's. I used to love their fries. I ordered a large Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal because I wanted the big cup to use the rest of the trip. Somewhere along these last few months I must have turned a corner because I found the burger to be disgusting. I ate about 3/4s of the burger and fries and I just couldn't stomach the rest.
That's never happened to me with McDonald's.
The Quarter Pounder kinda kept my tummy filled (but not satisfied) until we were mid-way through New York State. That's when I knew I had to find something good - even if it killed me. In the sleepy town of Batavia, I spied a cool-looking chicken and fish joint called Mother's Chicken & Fish and knew I had to try it.
Being from Baltimore, the chicken and fish places here aren't necessarily in the best parts of town and most of Batavia doesn't look particularly fancy, so there was some level of apprehension as I parked the Sonoma around back and walked to the front - fearing that I couldn't possibly lose any of my luggage and continue with my journey.
Like the exterior, the interior is clean and fresh with bright and bold colors. The menu is large, varied and tempting. I wanted to order and taste many things off the menu, but instead I stuck with the two piece chicken meal with western fries and cole slaw.
The chicken was hot, crisp and delicious. A most welcome change in this sea of crappy roadside dining. The spices I found to be slightly odd and different than what I prefer but satisfying nonetheless. Nothing that a good dose of salt and Texas Pete hot sauce can't correct. The slaw was solid. Slightly sweet and vinegar-y with just the right amount of crunch to the cabbage. But the color was monotone white and could have used a good dose of red cabbage and black pepper to give it some pop. The fries were soft and tasty as well - in the same batter as the chicken so the flavors matched well.
It was a good choice and a great place to stop.
The rest of the journey was relatively benign (and that's a good thing). Just myself, some tortilla chips, a cooler filled with Coke and water and the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey and Pizzicato Five to keep me company.
Mother's Chicken & Fish
242 Ellicott Street
Batavia, NY 14020