One potato, two potato

Photo by David Robert

Although the motherly hostess at the counter insisted that Lindy’s has been in the Reno Hilton for seven years, I swear I have never seen it. Not that I have combed every inch of that building, mind you, but it still made me pause. How could I have missed it? Situated right next to Asiana and the Steak House, this little 24-hour coffee shop churns out decent food for decent prices, while the world whistles by.

When my friend Elizabeth and I dropped in on a recent Thursday night to fuel up before running a bunch of errands, the long, sparsely decorated dining room was nearly deserted. We were seated at a booth near the back and began the task of poring over the menu.

On one side, there are breakfast choices galore, including a build-your-own omelet section and “world-famous skillets,” which are basically different ingredients smothered with potatoes, gravy and cheese. The other side of the menu consists of salads, deli-style sandwiches and old favorites, like a classic grilled cheese, a French dip and a Reuben.

House specialties and entrees go for the larger appetite, including a fat slice of prime rib ($14.95, served from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily). If you were my mom, you would probably order the liver and onions ($9.95), something that is rarely seen on menus these days.

We started with the chicken potstickers (five for $5.95). The hot, plump dumplings arrived on a bed of lettuce with a slightly spicy chili sauce for dipping. They were yummy, but these are likely the same ones that can be had at Asiana next door. I guess that’s good when you are craving something Asian while everyone else gets waffles.

Elizabeth was in an old-fashioned mood and ordered the baked macaroni and cheese ($7.50). Oddly, the sides offered with this entrée were all variations on the potato (fries, mashed or baked). A choice of a salad or even some vegetables would have been nice with all that starch. The macaroni itself was pretty standard, with a light layer of crisp breadcrumbs atop the creamy noodles.

I ended up ordering the open-faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy ($6.95). The server looked me over and decided that with my smallish frame, I would not be up to the task. “It’s really huge,” he said. “Are you sure?”

That did it. At that point, my curiosity was stoked. I just had to see this insurmountable plate. I told him to bring it on, and if I didn’t clean my plate, would he please refrain from calling my mom?

The large oval plate—platter, actually—was completely covered from stem to stern with food. The triangular slices of bread were piled high with thinly sliced roast beef and slathered with rich brown gravy. An imposing pile of mashed potatoes dominated the rest of the plate. We are talking about 6 inches across and 2 inches deep. It was a world of potatoes, enough to fill Barbie’s townhouse swimming pool.

I stared at it in utter amazement. Sure, they were tasty spuds, but it bordered on ridiculous. I could see now that my server was giving me an earnest warning. Needless to say, despite heroic effort, I had to leave a lot of it untouched. Again, noticeably absent was the presence of any vegetable matter, which is too bad, because that monochromatic brown plate could have used a splash of green. Not to mention that my cholesterol level could have used it, too.

After all of that, the arrival of the bill was a pleasant surprise. This would be a good place to take fussy-eater family members and linebackers. But if you want any vegetables, you had better order a salad.