The path looked familiar as Ken weaved his way to
Warner’s Lake and found a parking spot in the crowded lot of Maple Inn
on the Lake, a site last visited by DP8 in March 2003 when it was the
Scholz-Zwicklbauer Hofbrau (Karnes pick #2).
MIL is quite a throwback—from interior, ambience, menu.
The menu, filling both sides of a large laminated sheet, provides
something for everyone, from pizza, Italian cuisine, good ole American
deep fried appetizers, a range of salads, and a spread of the basic
Six of us must have been Hofbrau-nostalgic, ordering either the
Wiener Schnitzel or the Sauerbraten, both accompanied by potato pancakes,
red cabbage and applesauce. It must have been the potato pancakes that
stole our attention, and most of us agreed the pancakes were as good as we
had hoped. It was good comfort food. (DT, DT, DK, LP, RB, KeM)
Chay ordered the Cajun shrimp alfredo—penne pasta in the
obligatory sauce, with a bit of mushrooms, red peppers, and tomatoes.
Good, even if there might have been more shrimp.
And Kriss ordered the sirloin steak, sided by a baked potato, also
to her satisfaction.
One of the throwbacks was the inclusion of salad bar with the entrées.
Although some restaurants still promote a salad bar, this salad bar might
have been the same type as the one we had a dozen years ago, or forty
years ago. Two greens, a jug of sliced onions, some green peppers,
croutons, and a couple other items. And there was the choice of meatball
minestrone soup, good enough.
Service was, well, earnest and sincere. We kept
trying to figure out if there were too few servers for the crowd this
evening. It took gads of time for the courses to arrive, and we almost had
to intrude ourselves to ask for water, for refills, for coffee, for…
everything. After a while, we felt we were hunting down our server, and
even Don declined dessert, afraid of how much longer dinner would take if
a dessert order was placed. So, for a rare happenstance, with no one else
seeming to want to wait, no desserts for a dp8 event. One dinner appeared
to be forgotten and arrived late, and then our bill at the end charged
The drink order consisted of two beers, two sodas,
and four wine glasses for the two bottles of Malbec. A bottle price of $18
for a $10 bottle is one of the smallest mark-ups we have encountered.
The star of the show is the wall of windows facing
Warner’s Lake, a pleasant view of lapping waves pushed by the
evening’s south wind. Near dark, a wave of rain approached and then
engulfed the view. I would go back just to sit on the deck on a
Ambience is 1960s knotty-pine. Our room was a
cavernous 80’ x 40’, with pine floors, knotty pine siding, with a
soundproof board sloping roof of ten feet before the soundproof board
spans the remaining thirty feet of ceiling. Sturdy looking curved-end
beams stretch the same distance. Five wagon wheels, each with five globes
provide the lighting for the center of the room, while recessed lighting
hides behind knotty pine scalloped-edge trim.
The room beside us was a 40’ x 30’ room, probably the original
room, decorated about the same although it had center posts to support the
And a 30 foot L-bar creates another entrance, past some game
machines and TV, and through a narrow row behind the bar stools to get to
the dining rooms. Given the rough-cut look, and the firewood by door’s
entrance, for a moment I thought I might be in the Adirondacks. It is
casual, and tough, and beautiful—local character for the Helderberghs.
Our round table was set with white linen, dark-linen wrapped set of
two forks and a knife, a center glass vase with flowers of the day, a
sugar packet holder, and salt and pepper shakers (although Chay donated
them to another table).
Adding to the ambience was the recognition of three different
tables – the Ketcham clan, the Giarussos, and Jessica Chase, an event
that usually happens only close to home.
The final bill came to $63 per couple, a nice value
for comfort food and pleasant setting. All of us would return, perhaps
hoping for faster service next time.
The evening had started at the Monteverd home, and
with Lynda and Ross joining us.
Topic one was the Monteverd adventure with dinner reservations,
which they had made weeks before. A scouting trip two nights previous led
to a surprise—the owner was surprised they had reservations for DP8
night because his restaurant was closed for a private event. So, surprised
reservation-makers took Plan B—telling a friend about the happenstance
and receiving the suggestion that led to the evening’s site. But that
led to Monteverdean disclaimers about the evening, with no guarantee of
perfection from Kriss. (And I keep trying to convince Kriss that there is
never a guarantee, other than to enjoy and savor these culinary
I won’t go into ... but I will say that Kriss’
decorum was at risk.
Otherwise, conversations at dinner, in the cars, and
in Freehold included: the Teator trip to Italy and sights seen, Deb K’s
Freihofer run earlier in the day with discussion of the new course and
Deb’s performance, C-D news and intrigues, bushes around our houses
doing poorly after a tough winter, Chay’s golfing, Ross’s golfing, the
East Conesville camp, Kriss’s trip to the Women’s Final Four and then
some, the Adamses’ whereabouts, a dry May, update on the Debs’
parents, catchup on Florida possibilities, a few summer plans, pregnancies
and grandkids, and on it went, even the ones I forgot about.