Atmosphere: Cozy country comfort.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Price range: Sandwiches $2.75 to $4.25; dinner $5.95 to $13.95; roast beef ($5.95), 10-ounce strip steak ($7.95), sauteed shrimp ($7.95) specials available with coupon, after 5 p.m., now through April 1.
Reservations: A good idea for weekday lunch and on weekends.
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Carte Blanche and Diners.
Special facilities: Parking in hotel lot; accessible to wheelchairs; boosters and highchairs available.
"We do it right," say the matchbooks in Marriott's Allie's Restaurant. After dinner there on a recent Sunday night, we can agree with that only in part.
There are certainly several things that are done just right; in terms of hospitality, ambiance and price, it would be hard to outdo Allie's. The service and the food, however, could stand some improvement.
The good things first. Even if you have no reservation on a busy night, you are made to feel welcome with comfortable chairs to sit out your wait and access to an electric urn full of steaming cider--a welcome offering on the rainy night we were there. When our table was ready, we were seated in a lovely country dining room aglow with stylish hurricane lamps and firelight from a brick hearth.
Baskets, old books and china teapots decorate antique pine cupboards and newly made "antique" shelves that hang on walls covered with wildflower wallpaper. Windsor and wing chairs surround wooden tables, creating a relaxed comfort found in few country cottages, and in even fewer restaurants.
Allie's clearly aims to please families, with a children's menu that even includes grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an adult menu offering everything from simple sandwiches to New York strip steak. It is possible to spend as much at Allie's as you might in any other restaurant, but you don't have to.
We went to Allie's to check out the special advertised offer: a roast beef dinner available for $5.95 with the newspaper coupon. It was all-inclusive: salad, beef, baked potato, vegetable, apple pie and beverage, served after 5 o'clock any night until April 1. Children's portions of the same dinner cost $2.95 with the coupon.
Although it hardly can be considered a secret when it is advertised every Friday, it is not mentioned on the menu and was not mentioned by the waitress. You will have to wave your coupon under her nose and ask for the roast beef special, as we did--one adult's and one child's.
A pleasant surprise was that Allie's offers three other soup-through-beverage dinners for $5.95 as part of its regular menu. We ordered roast turkey and grilled liver, bacon and onions, each for this hard-to-beat price, and our third daughter ordered fried shrimp and french fries from the children's menu for $4.75.
Dinner began well with quick delivery of our drinks, a basket of warm corn bread and rolls, large fresh salads for two of the girls and cups of tasty but lukewarm vegetable soup. It was the best part of the meal. We had to wait for our entrees, and when they did appear, despite arriving on covered plates, they were barely warm. The food itself was a bit above steam table fare.
Zucchini and beef liver were slightly overcooked. The roast beef was somewhat pink and minimally tender, but lacked flavor. The turkey had been cooked all right, but seemed dried out around the edges, probably from reheating. And even gravy didn't improve the dryness of the dressing.
We waited again for dessert. The best of those we tried was brownie a' la mode. Again, it was rather dry, but vanilla ice cream helped. Deep-dish apple pie was fairly good; the cake of the day, coconut with a pineapple filling, was freshly prepared but forgettable.
We waited again for the check.
But back to the good part. When the bill came, it was--lo and behold--$32.37, including tax and tip, for five of us.
Dinner out in a lovely place with full service for $6 a person is worth something, after all.