I groan on those rare occasions when my GPS fails me. Give it an address in a small town or country road, and the probability is greater than zero that the unit will not be able to find it. We tried to find Anjou Bakery in Cashmere to have lunch and to eat its legendary marionberry pie, but no dice. As it turned out, it didn’t matter anyway because the bakery is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Poor planning on my part.
What to do but find the nearest diner. We saw Monitor Hot Rod Cafe across the highway. Why not? Besides, we wanted to get back on the road ASAP to Winthrop, another two hours away.
The restaurant gets points for its Route 66 ambience. Hot rod parked on the roof. Old style Texaco gas pump inside. Vintage Washington product posters lined just below the ceiling. Black-and-white “tile” linoleum on the floor.
On the surface, the menu looks no different than another roadside diner’s: burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, fries, onion rings, fish and chips. But, look closer, and you’ll notice some modern-day tweaks, like veggie burger (called the Prius), burgers adorned with up-to-date ingredients, salad bar, garlic fries.
I admit to being a dyed-in-the-wool chilehead, which is the reason I decided to try a burger called The Burn Out. Spiciness comes from chipotle mayo and fresh halves of raw jalapeño peppers. The patty itself may have been cooked a bit too well, but the freshness of the lettuce, tomato and onion, and the tender wheat (yup, wheat, not white—either is an option) bun, with the bite from the chiles and savor from the mayo and pepper jack, was more than enough to make for an enjoyable (if much too tall) sandwich. (☆☆☆)
Even if the fish pieces were previously frozen, they were tender enough in my wife’s cod fish and chips, and there were a generous five pieces of them. At first, we thought the batter was extra thick, but it was quite thin and amazingly smooth. It was also too oily, or rather had a glistening sheen. (☆☆½)
The fries that accompanied them were surprising. Hand-cut, they had a nice chew with no mealiness. More than that, they were coated with something prior to frying that gave them good texture and flavor. (☆☆☆½)
There seems to be extra effort by the management to provide more than the usual grub that one gets at a roadside diner. Kudos to them for the effort, for the fun (and very clean) atmosphere, for the warm and friendly service. And, they serve Umpqua ice cream.
Monitor Hot Rod Cafe
2960 Easy St
Wenatchee, WA 98801