Sometimes, you’re just in the mood to go to a nostalgic diner. Sometimes, that craving occurs at an odd hour, when nothing else is open. Morrill, Nebraska has just the thing to cure your craving: Penny’s Diner, open 24 hours on the north side of highway 26 through the middle of town (AKA 707 E Webster St.).
You’ll see a sign for Oak Tree Inn, because that’s the entity that established the diner. Behind the sign, you can’t miss the silver sleekness of the diner, glinting in the sunlight by day, reflecting neon at night. I love the decor in this place: old advertising signs, newspaper clippings, record albums, pressed-tin ceiling, booths and counter stools done up with chrome and gray-and-black vinyl, floors in black-and-white tile, midcentury modern-style pendant lamps, tables with 1950s “boomerang Formica”.
I was there fairly late in the supper hour on a Tuesday, and the sole waitroid was handling the decent crowd with aplomb. The sole cook, however, was a little on the slow side. I’d see him check the order tickets five or six times a minute. Maybe he was new.
The menu runs the typical diner gamut from breakfast to burgers, most with a generous dollop of grease. After my disappointment with getting an ordinary reuben instead of a bison reuben in Cheyenne, I was still kinda wanting some bison meat, and the diner delivered! Under a “healthier options” heading, I found a bison burger with side salad.
I figured if my meal was healthier, I could indulge in a chocolate malt, but the waitroid informed me that they were out of chocolate. I could only choose from strawberry or vanilla. Um, okay, but there’s a big pumper bottle of chocolate sauce on the counter right behind you . . . never mind . . . I’ll just have water.
The burger and salad were . . . well . . . diner food. Nothing to write home about. Especially the white bread burger bun, which was supposed to be buttered and grilled. I saw the cook when he “dipped” it in the butter. Only one thin rim of the bun got buttered. Hm . . . maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be on a “healthy” menu choice.
The food’s not my favorite, but the convenient hours and fun atmosphere make Penny’s Diner worth a visit.
Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw