I visited the historic Fry Brothers Turkey Ranch in Trout Run, Pennsylvania.
The restaurant is known for year-round Thanksgiving dinners, including turkey and pie.
My wife and I thought our meals were an excellent value, so we'd probably return.
Though Thanksgiving is a de facto holiday in the US, for me, it has largely been an excuse to eat foods I don't normally have during the rest of the year.
So when a coworker told me about a restaurant serving Thanksgiving-style meals year-round, my wife and I saw it as a chance to drop the pretense of the holiday altogether and eat turkey and gravy on our own terms.
And so, we headed to Fry Brothers Turkey Ranch, located on top of Steam Valley Mountain on the outskirts of the small village of Trout Run, Pennsylvania.
Aesthetically, the restaurant's interior is caught somewhere between a Cracker Barrel and the 1980s.
The historic restaurant is in an unassuming brick building with a parking lot and a Sunoco gas station.
Wood paneling definitely reigns supreme here, and taxidermied turkeys and a coyote watch over the dining room.
Orange-backed booths line the windows that look out over the highway and the surrounding mountains which were, at least in mid-October, colored with the changing fall foliage.
The restaurant has information about its history on some of the walls.
Framed photographs detailing the history of the restaurant, which first opened at this location in 1939, adorn the walls near the restrooms.
Fry Brothers used to raise its own turkeys on-site, but the turkey barns were dismantled to make way for a highway expansion in the 1970s.
After over eight decades in business, the eatery says it has served roughly a million turkey dinners.
I knew I wanted to order something with turkey at Fry Brothers.
Though the restaurant is best known for its Thanksgiving-style turkey dinners, there are also hamburgers, cheesesteaks, fish, and salads on the menu.
I had originally visited Fry Brothers intending to order the famous turkey dinner, which consists of turkey, homemade filling, gravy, cranberry sauce, and rainbow sherbet.
But something about the turkey and waffles called out to me once we were seated.
It's a spin on central Pennsylvania's chicken and waffles, which is itself somewhat of a perversion of the Southern dish that pairs syrup with crispy, fried chicken. Pennsylvania opts for gravy and roasted chicken — or, in this case, turkey.
The turkey and waffles had no shortage of gravy.
I was initially overwhelmed when the dish arrived at our table, which was part of a small booth at the back of the restaurant.
My rational mind knew that entombed in a thick layer of brown gravy, there was turkey, mashed potatoes, and the foundational waffle, even if I couldn't see them.
I like gravy — it's practically the standard condiment for Thanksgiving, but everything is best in moderation.
My meal also came with applesauce.
My meal cost $15.50 and came with a small bowl of applesauce topped with a light sprinkling of cinnamon. It served as a sweet counterbalance to the main dish.
That said, my entrée was certainly the star. Had I eaten with my eyes closed, I could have been convinced that there was no waffle there at all, which is all to say that the gravy was unquestionably the dominating force of the dish. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
My wife ordered a pulled-turkey sandwich and dipped her fries in my gravy.
My wife ordered the homemade pulled-turkey barbecue sandwich with a side of fries for $11.50.
After a bite of her food, I was a little jealous. The buttered, toasted bun enhanced the combination of slow-smoked turkey and tangy barbecue sauce.
The french fries, according to her, were perfectly crispy. She occasionally dipped a few into the gravy on my plate.
By the end of the main course, we were stuffed, perhaps much like perfectly prepared turkeys. However, it seemed we'd be doing a disservice to the Thanksgiving holiday if we didn't at least try a piece of pie.
We finished our meal with coffee and pie.
The menu offered pies of all kinds, from raspberry and strawberry-rhubarb to apple and cherry. I decided on a slice of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream for $4.
We both also split a small carafe of coffee, which cost just over $5, to help snap us out of the rapid-onset, tryptophan-induced stupor.
If I had to rank every part of our meal, I'd probably put the pumpkin pie at the top. The filling was perfectly spiced, and the crust was crisp and light.
Before leaving, we headed to the souvenir shop.
After we finished eating, we strolled through the souvenir shop at the front of the restaurant and perused a sampling of turkey-themed T-shirts, dish towels, and stuffed toys.
I thought the meal was a great value and would return.
Fry Brothers Turkey Ranch is a great value, especially when it comes to the large serving sizes.
In the end, we got coffee for two, two entrées, and dessert for about $38.
I may not be sold on eating like it's Thanksgiving all the time but, much like the holiday itself, I could see myself going to Fry Brothers Turkey Ranch once a year.
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