Fay’s Country Kitchen – Carlisle

On Tuesday July 26, 2011 we decided to revisit Kay’s Country Kitchen at 203 South Hanover Street in Carlisle. It has been over a year since we first visited Fay’s, which has a reputation for good breakfasts and especially good pancakes. We had to park on the street, but we were within 100 feet or so of the restaurant. They had a few customers inside and just one waitress who was patient with us as we ordered. Craig ordered his usual eggs, home fries and sausage, Bill ordered the 2 eggs (poached) with home fries and toast and our special guest Kathy ordered the peach pancakes. The food didn’t take too long but  we had time to enjoy the interesting decor of the restaurant and look out the big windows that faced the street. The food was really good, everyone enjoyed the meal that they had ordered and Kathy said the pancakes were very good and filling. Our waitress was attentive, but didn’t make us feel like she was stalking us. The prices were reasonable and the atmosphere was very hometown-ish. We like Fay’s and suggest that anyone who has never eaten there to give it a try, it’s a very unique downtown Carlisle experience.

One thing we have noticed is that every restaurant that we have visited in Carlisle this year did not seem as busy as they were last year. As many people know Carlisle has changed their downtown streets from two lanes each way down to one lane each way to and made bike lanes. While sitting in the restaurant this morning we saw one bicycle go past. Now, no one at Fay’s said anything to us about it, but we have talked to several people who don’t like the new downtown plan and feel that people are avoiding the downtown area. Stories include car show traffic backed up to the other side of Mt Holly and I-81 accidents causing traffic jams down town are just a few examples. Maybe we’re  just catching these places on a slow day, but it would seem that it’s affecting business.

Category                Bill                   Craig            Kathy

Eggs                          3                          3                    3

Potatoes                    3                        3                    3

Sides                         2                           2                     2        

Drinks                       2                            2                    2

Service                       2                          2                    2

Atmopshere              2                          2                   2

Cleanliness               2                             2                  2

Totals                      16 / 21                16/21              16/21

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Breakfast heats up on the West Shore in 2011

Breakfast is a competitive part of the restaurant business and we are happy to see that the competition is heating up here in central PA. So far this year we have reviewed several places that have made big improvements over last year. We have visited a few new places that have scored very well on the first visit. The battle for the top ten best breakfasts on the West Shore is heating up.

Mechanicsburg’s Hi Life Diner has seen the most improvement, moving up from number 18 to number 7 on our scorecard. The Chow Down Restaurant in Rossville has moved up three spots to #9 . Boiling Springs new Caffe 101 really shook things up by landing the #3 position on their first review and the newest restaurant in our area, the Sunlight Diner in Mechanicsburg landed in the top ten (at #10) on their first visit, proving they aren’t fooling around.   We also want to mention L’ Koste Villa and the Hamilton in Carlisle,  We look forward to reviewing them again.

We have not been to the New Brick House Restaurant yet, but we understand they have been in the news again. Hopefully everything gets straightened out down there.

The Sunlight Diner – Mechanicsburg

On Tuesday July 19, 2011 we decided to visit the newest restaurant in our area, The Sunlight Diner, located at 4729 Gettysburg Rd in Mechanicsburg, formerly the site of the The Mechanicsburg (50’s) Diner. This is the Sunlight’s Grand Opening week and we noted that they had a nice crowd this morning. Walking inside we were pleasantly surprised to find that the place looked great. You may recall the interior was remodeled about 9 months ago and much of that was still in place although the biggest change we noted today was how absolutely clean this place was, a tremendous improvement over previous visits. Of course the staff is all new and we had a great server named Caitlin that was fun, friendly and took great care of us. We ordered our regular breakfast of eggs, home fries and Craig had the sausage patties while Bill tried the Canadian bacon. The meals were reasonably priced at $5.25 and $5.75. It took a little while to receive our food, but when it came out it was really good. We got plenty of refills on the coffee and were pretty happy with the visit. We noticed that when someone would leave the busboy would not only clean the table but also the seats and everything that customer would have touched. We were impressed, we have had too many experiences with sticky, grimy diners and this one looks like it’s going to be clean, clean, clean! We also chatted with the hostess, who is the wife of one of the new owners and she told us how hard they had worked to get the place in shape and ready to open. Everyone was super nice, the place looked great and the food was good. We urge everyone to come out and try this new restaurant. Don’t forget that they have plenty of parking, an outside deck and free wi-fi for the customers. As for us, we will be back!

Category              Bill               Craig

Eggs                        3                         3

Potatoes                 2                       3

Sides                        3                        3

Drinks                     2                         2

Service                    3                         3

Atmosphere           3                        3

Cleanliness            3                         3

Totals                    19/21                20/21 

Our meal was about $14 for two, in our medium range.

The Hi Life Diner – Mechanicsburg

On Tuesday July 12, 2011 we went to the Hi Life Diner on the Carlisle Pike in Mechanicsburg. It was a nice morning with a breeze so we  decided to eat breakfast al fresco out on the deck. We ordered our usual breakfasts of eggs, home fries and meat, Craig ordered the sausage patties, Bill ordered the ham and also opted for onions on his home fries. The waitress was nice and took good care of us. She also mentioned that the restaurant was celebrating its one year anniversary. At first glance they seemed a little pricey at $5.25 per breakfast, there was no special during the week, but when that food came out it was fantastic. Nice eggs, perfect home fries and the sweet onions on the home fries was amazing, generous portions of sausage and the ham slice was an entire slice off the end of a ham, not half a slice like most places give you. The new deck was nice with a fountain in the adjacent landscaping, and we should mention that the interior of the Hi Life is very nice, complete with at least two big screen TV’s and free Wi-Fi. They have a great menu for lunch and dinner too. Highly recommended !

Category                     Bill                        Craig

Eggs                              3                                   3

Potatoes                        3                                 3

Sides                              3                                   3

Drinks                          2                                     2

Service                           3                                   3

Atmosphere                 3                                   3

Cleanliness                 3                                       3

Totals                       20 / 21                    20/21

Our breakfast for three cost about $23, around $7 per person, but it was really good.

The Chow Down Restaurant – Rossville

On Tuesday July 5, 2011 we decided to take a ride down to Rossville to re-sample the breakfast at the Chow Down Restaurant. We were there last spring, just a month or so after they had opened and we had a great breakfast. At times we have to wonder if we just hit a good day or maybe something else has changed, so we go back and try them again. Well, this visit proved that the Chow Down has a great breakfast. When we arrived there were many cars in the parking lot. Every booth in the restaurant was taken plus some tables. We took a table in the back and ordered our usual breakfasts, Bill ordered the ham and Craig ordered the sausage patties. As you can see the ham was good size and Craig got four sausage patties with his meal.The eggs, potatoes and toast were very good, these sides were above average. The most amazing part of our visit was that our total for two was right around $8 because these were $1.99 specials during the week. We were very satisfied and don’t worry, we’ll be back. If you’re in the Rossville area the restaurant is right off the square if you turn toward Wellsville. It’s just a few miles from Pinchot Park.

Category               Bill                  Craig

Eggs                         3                         3

Potatoes                   2                       3

Sides                         3                         3

Drinks                      2                           2

Service                      3                          3

Atmosphere             3                         3

Cleanliness             3                            3

Totals                   19 / 21               20/21

Hamilton Restaurant – Carlisle

On Tuesday June 28, 2011 we found ourselves in Carlisle and decided to stop by the Hamilton Restaurant at 55 West High Street. It has been over a year since we last paid them a visit, but we have often talked about what a great breakfast we had there back in May of 2010. As we entered the restaurant it was like we were back in familiar territory, it looked the same, felt the same, just a very comfortable feeling. Our waitress was excellent, we had drinks in a minute, and of course we glanced at the menu but ordered our usual breakfasts, 2 eggs, home fries and ham, bacon or sausage priced at $4.25. The restaurant itself is always very clean and orderly, the booths were comfortable and we received our food quickly and it sure looked good. The eggs and home fries were excellent and our side orders of ham and sausage were large and very good too. After our meal Craig even ordered a couple of hotchee dogs to go (a tradition). Reviewing the Hamilton isn’t very hard, the place is a Carlisle landmark, it’s always clean and quiet, and the food is always well prepared and there is plenty of it. The prices are very good, the staff is always helpful and of course, the hotchee dogs, well you just have to try one! If you haven’t ever been there or it has been a while, treat yourself to a visit and enjoy one of Carlisle’s  great breakfasts.