Thursday, July 19, 2012

Greenfield Village and the Eagle Tavern


If you are ever in or around Dearborn, MI (hometown of Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010), you might be tempted to drop by the Henry Ford (museum) and Greenfield Village. If you do, I have a great recommendation for where to eat: the Eagle Tavern.

The Eagle Tavern is located within an old stagecoach stop that was brought to Greenfield Village as part of its quest to preserve American history. Living history. There are no electric lights in the tavern, just a few candles on each table, so it's not a bad idea to get a spot by one of the windows. My compatriots who had brought me there indicated that it is sometimes difficult to read the menu when sitting at an interior table.

Foodwise, the menu has only a few, albeit delicious, offerings of old world America. I ordered the beef roast, which came covered in a wonderfully flavorful gravy alongside chunks of tasty fried potatoes and yellow squash and zucchini that had most likely been grown right there in the village, which has a working farm. My boyfriend Greg ordered some kind of sausage and gravy dish that he said had a little too much breading, but the gravy was good, and he doesn't usually like gravy. Another friend, who works at the village and became our personal tour guide, ordered chicken with a cherry sauce that looked quite wonderful, and had really tempted me. As most people who know me already know, I tend to opt for the chicken option at most dining experiences, but I have not had roast beef in many years, so I couldn't not order it, and I was very delighted by my choice.

When you order an entree, you are given a basket of various breads and muffins, a dish of churned butter, a dish of jam, a shallow bowl of salt, and two kinds of pickles. For us, there was a dish of sweet pickles, which I don't like, and another of pickled blackeyed peas, which I really liked a lot. My friends said that the last time they were there, they received something else in place of the beans. Perhaps it is seasonal.

The coolest thing, in my opinion, about the Eagle Tavern is not the historical atmosphere nor the wonderful food. The drink menu is off the hook. Both sides of the menu are filled with their libation offerings. Greg and I ordered sarsaparillas, which we had never had before and ended up really liking, and another party member ordered a shandygaff, a small ceramic tankard of a half ale half ginger ale brew that I liked when I tried it, but I am uncertain if I could have finished the whole thing as it was quite gingery. I am anxious to return to the Eagle Tavern to try many of their drinks! I think I could really sit there all day ordering a new beverage every time the server stopped by.

Point of interest: the sarsaparillas come with noodle straws that are not period, but a nice touch. Period straws would be made of things like lead which is poisonous and could not be used today.

We were so full and satisfied by the glorious meal that we didn't opt for dessert – and there were some pretty tempting options, I must say – though we did end up picking up some candy sticks from a little period shop nearby. There is also a candy store that sells some mighty fine frozen lemonade, and another place that sells cones of frozen custard, the creamiest of the frozen dairy options that seems to be unique to the Midwest.

If you are at all interested in history, and especially historical foods and libations, you owe it to yourself to drop by the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village. You will not go away hungry.

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