Ben's Crow Inn is a restaurant, not an inn. And I definitely did not see any crows. I'm sure there's a Ben somewhere, but it was not our waitress.
I'd only been to the Crow Inn a few times before, mostly because it's a little too far out of town, located all the way down Warm Springs. But I knew from past experience that it's kind of a burger joint with several alternative fried-dinner options and a "famous" bucket of clams.
They don't offer a special (read: cheaper) lunch menu, but still the place was pretty crowded on the Monday afternoon when I met my friend Steph for lunch.
The place shouts "bar" more than "restaurant," which is big fun for weekday lunch. Steph went with a pink lemonade. I didn't order booze, but the wood paneled walls, the drink specials and the couple next to us (who were sharing a huge carafe of Chablis) made me feel devilishly excited about the possibility of a midday buzz.
We ordered jalapeno poppers to start before my shrimp dinner and Steph's finger steak dinner. Dinners come with fries or salador a half-and-half option. The half-and-half option is my single favorite thing about the place; in other restaurants, it is always a battle with the healthy salad angel on one shoulder or the indulgent fry devil on the other. I chose half-and-half and life was blissful.
The poppers arrived quickly: eight cream-cheesy treats that were fried and substantially filling. Then it was salad and dinner/lunch. The portions were huge, with heaping fried shrimp and steak fries. Steph's finger steaks looked indistinguishable from my shrimp. Both plates were heavy, and I wondered if there would have actually be more fries if I'd not chosen to substitute half of them with salad.
The side-saddled cocktail sauce was way too peppery for me, so I relinquished and dunked my shrimp in ketchup instead, which tasted just fine. Speaking of cocktails, or just tails, the breaded shrimp still had little papery tail pieces hidden under the breading. I figured this out only after removing some exoskeleton from my well-chewed bite. "I don't know why they don't just take all the tail off if they are already bothering to take some of it off," Steph pondered.
Halfway through my dish, I wondered if I'd ever clear the plate. I got darn close after almost an hour of picking off shrimp tails. Lunch at the Crow Inn takes a whilewith the big plates and the long drivebut on the placid drive back to town, I felt like my lunch jaunt was a mini vacation. So the next time I feel like it's been a while since I've been out of town, I'll head back to Ben's.
Jennifer Gelband got French fried once at a beach in Nice.
Ben's Crow Inn, 6781 Warm Springs Ave., 342-9669. Open daily 10 a.m.-late.