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Cadillac Cafe

You want atmosphere, friendly people serving you, and a relaxed atmosphere for lunch with no frills? Check out the Cadillac Cafe on Eighth Street in downtown Medford about half-way between the post office and the Craterian.

My dining companion and I stopped in for lunch this week. It was our second meal there. I had eaten there some time ago. It's within walking distance from work and a great place to relax.

The Cadillac reminds me of everything I like about diners and everything I don't like about places that are trying to be diners. A real diner doesn't have to try to look like one. It just does. It is unpretentious. It doesn't have a whole lot of amenities. The food is simple, tasty and homemade.

The Cadillac's decor is your basic red, white and black. When the waitress arrives at our table, she has one of those pads from my memories of comfort-food venues. "What'll you have?" My companion is having beef stroganoff and a salad. It's well under $10. I'm having a sandwich. A half vegetarian for $5.75. A whole would have cost me $6.75.

My order is a little more complicated than my companion's. With so many breads, cheeses and condiments to choose from, you don't want to leave anything out. The last time I was here, I just told them to go for it and come up with whatever they thought would make a great cheese sandwich. And boy did they.

This time, I was the chef. I could have had the sourdough like I did the last time, or white, wheat or rye. Or even a hoagie roll. Is was a hoagie kind of day so I went with the roll.

What about the side dish, the waitress asks. It comes with the meal. I look at the list: tuna pasta, green salad, soup or fruit salad.

I pick the green salad. Dressing? Well, there's ranch, blue cheese, honey mustard, Italian and Thousand Island. I haven't seen, heard or tasted Thousand Island for years, but decide to go with the Italian. "It comes with olives and red onions," the waitress warns. "Is that OK?" Yep.

"Drink?" We both have an Arnold Palmer — half lemonade, half iced tea. No ice for mine. $1 for the small, $1.25 for the medium and $1.50 for the large. They arrive immediately. Mine is a little sweeter than I usually like, but it hits the proverbial spot. We could have had the usual choices of soft drinks which included — naturally — cherry coke.

Today's soups are tomato or hamburger. That's hamburger soup. Never had it. Never will, but it sounds intriguing.

Also intriguing are the names for the sandwiches. There's the Mae West, the James Dean, the Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Bogart, Liz Taylor and Brando. I'm not sure if these particular folks actually ate these particular sandwiches on a regular basis, prompting the Cadillac owners to honor that fact with the names.

Still, the combinations, like the hamburger soup, sound intriguing. I can just see Marlon Brando munching on his turkey, salami, cheddar, swiss, pepperoncini, tomato and onion sandwich. He'd probably choose a hoagie roll, too. And Mae West would no doubt make short work of her hot pastrami, turkey, kraut and swiss on rye.

That's one way the Cadillac lives up to its promise of "Lunch with the stars." While no famous people were actually eating there on they day we were having lunch, some of their memorabilia was in evidence. A life-sized cardboard cut out of James Dean stands at the front door. On the walls are clusters of 45 RPM records. The vinyl ones with the big hole in the center and with real oldies on them.

Above our table were three records. There was "Hound Dog Man" by Fabian, "Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison and the unmistakable yellow and white Atco label with "Dream Lover" by Bobby Darin. I remember all of these songs and their singers. Ah, those were the days.

My companion's beef stroganoff looks great. He enjoys it and leaves the plate bare. My sandwich arrives in the waitress' other hand. The hoagie is crammed to overflowing with three kinds of cheese, all kinds of sweet peppers and other goodies. I will be nourished for the rest of the work day.

Serious working men that we are, we don't stay for dessert. My companion buys a Butterfinger candy bar for the road, instead. Fifty cents. It's gone before he gets to his car. It was that kind of lunch. That kind of a day. We'll be back.

Cadillac Cafe is at 207 W. Eighth St., Medford. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 857-9411.

— Richard Moeschl