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We grabbed the last two seats at the U-shaped counter at noon on a Tuesday at Solly’s Grille. Customers have gathered here, around two counters, since 1936, a long successful run for this family-owned business. Most customers come for their famous Butter Burgers, 100 percent sirloin beef patties fried in butter on a flat top grill, then presented with another tablespoon-size dollop of butter. This decadent butter-drenched burger has brought me to worship at the counter of this not-so-heart-healthy but outrageously delicious joint since I discovered Solly’s in 1982.
But, there’s so much more here than burgers, and it’s all good, as I learned on three recent visits. It was time to sample something with a little heart next to it on the menu instead of gorging in butter. I chose the Chicken Salad Sandwich from a short list marked with hearts, two salads, tuna or chicken, in a sandwich or on lettuce in a plate lunch. The mayo-based chicken salad with tiny bits of chopped celery sprawled out from the rye sandwich bread, making a generous serving of classic, no-frills chicken salad. Maybe it tasted so good because whoever made the sandwich, buttered both sides of the bread, as if he or she knew this was a customer who wasn’t counting calories.
My companion also looked past the burgers to the chili. “It’s pretty mild until the spicy kicks in. That’s good chili, spicy but not fiery, with enough heat to say it’s the real thing.”
The Golden Onion Rings cooked in “Cholesterol-free oil with no trans fat,” according to the menu, were just about perfect. The batter light, no grease, the onions crisp. They hung together, unlike most onion rings that fall apart, leaving a hollow husk of batter and a hot mushy slice of onion. Unfortunately, the kitchen ran out of Solly’s Saucy Sauce. I bet it’s good.
To wash down the chili and the rings, my companion added a chocolate malt from a list that went beyond the ordinary to Banana, Strawberry- Banana, and Pineapple. The malt came in a steel can, the real deal, enough for two generous servings. It was everything a malt should be, thick as promised, with a dense malt flavor that eclipsed the chocolate, the results tasty.
Most of the servers have continued Solly’s tradition of memorizing orders in lieu…