The first time I ate at Grammy’s Country Inn in Linneus, Maine, I was on my motorcycle—and would be for every other time I’ve eaten there since, and there have been many such times. And there’s no doubt that there will be many more, whether I’m on my bike, in a car, or hitchhiking my way through the Haynesville Woods just to get there.
It was April 18, 2013, after I’d spent two days in Aroostook County while on the job for the Bangor Daily News, and upon finishing an interview in Houlton my subject asked if I were finding lunch before heading back to Bangor. I said I’d probably grab something at the McDonald’s down the street, but he steadfastly insisted that I try Grammy’s on Route 2A instead, not even five miles from the I-95 ramps.
The previous day had begun with 20-something-degree temperatures and ended in a treacherous wind and rain between Caribou and St. Agatha, so it had been long and arduous. But this was a sunny, blue-sky day with temperatures in the high 50s, and I was in the mood for a relaxing spring ride that didn’t involve boring I-95. I’d grab something to eat at Grammy’s and then enjoy a ride to Lincoln through the beautiful Haynesville Woods.
The real selling point from the food perspective was my interviewee telling me that the food was not only reasonably priced and quite good but that you got ridiculous amounts of it. He made motions with his hands when describing mountainous piles of onion rings, overstuffed sandwiches, and more potatoes than the human digestive tract should ever handle in one day. Well, people exaggerate when they’re touting somewhere they really like to eat, and what really mattered to me was the ride home after lunch. I took his exaggeration with a grain of salt.
Oh, he wasn’t exaggerating. As I sat there that first day waiting to order, I watched tray after tray of food coming out of the kitchen like a row of traincars hauling portions that were nothing short of astounding. True to Aroostook County, if your meal involves potatoes in any form you can expect more than you can likely eat in one sitting. The restaurant will happily give you Styrofoam to-go containers, but of course if you’re on a motorcycle you need to think ahead and bring Tupperware with you so that your saddlebags don’t end up filled with gravy.
The irony is that I was not super-hungry that day and only ordered chili—and it was some of the best tomato-rich beef chili I’ve ever had. I did take plenty of desserts home; Grammy’s specializes in oversized cookies, giant brownies, and fat whoopee pies.
I immediately gushed about the place to my good friend WingMan, and before long we made the ride up there together, where he learned that I, like everyone else who talked about Grammy’s, was not exaggerating as to the quantity and quality of the food. I soon took my wife with me on her first long-distance ride on the back of my bike. As picky an eater as she is, she found the place satisfying as well. But to be fair I’ve never heard a single bad review from anyone I’ve talked to about the place.
Since then, Grammy’s has become a regular pilgrimage for me. The ride there is one of my favorites (which I’ve written about here). Once or twice a year, it’s a ride worth taking in its own right, but having Grammy’s as the destination only makes it that much closer to perfect.
Now, I’ve written ecstatically about how MUCH food you get at Grammy’s—but is it any GOOD? You already know the answer to that. Face it: You can’t distract people from crappy food by serving more of it. You need to have quality along with quantity—and any time you get those two Q’s together, all the better. Grammy’s does that nicely, with exceptional quality and more vast quantity.
Bringing the Family
I’ve never made the trip in a car, but I recently led some cagers up there. And that’s a funny story by itself.
Recently, my sister Debbie and her husband Bob were visiting from New Hampshire, and I had been trying to get my parents up to Grammy’s forever. So with the parents riding in the car with them, I led the way on the bike, all based on promises of a beautiful ride that would culminate in one of the most bountiful feasts any of them had ever enjoyed. I had rambled on about the sizes of the servings, but of course everyone thought I was just being hyperbolic. It was a secret kick for me, knowing that they were mentally dismissing my excessive ravings, because I knew that their eyes would soon be bulging as much as their jaws were sagging when they realized that I wasn’t kidding.
We landed at Grammy’s, where we met my other sister, Teri, who arrived with her boyfriend Nick and her two young daughters. We lacked the foresight to plan this better; noon on a Saturday is NOT the time to show up at Grammy’s with a party of ten, because it was packed, but we finally got seated. And after the food was ordered, the fun began.
We were seated away from the kitchen, so nobody could really see the piled-high trays coming out, and actually made it more amusing when the completely unsuspecting group began to get served. Nick got his buffalo-chicken salad first, and to say that this thing was huge would be the most laughable understatement. Then out came my side of cole slaw and Teri’s side salad. You’d expect an ice-cream scoop of slaw anywhere else; oh, not at Grammy’s, where you’ll get thrice what you’d expect—and it’s fantastic to boot. Teri’s salad wasn’t some mostly-lettuce thing with a few vegetables sliced up on top; no, it was very little lettuce and finely diced veggies that might have been a meal unto itself.
My mother had played it safe and ordered a club sandwich, but clearly she hadn’t expected there to be what looked like a pound of ham on the thing. This might have been the biggest club I’d ever seen, and the pile of onion rings was ridiculous. Meanwhile, my father and Bob had both ordered steak subs that were impressively filled, and my dad’s pile of French fries were more than he could possibly handle.
Perhaps the funniest result was Debbie’s cheeseburger. She was probably the most unbelieving of my raves about how much food you got at Grammy’s; so, being too hungry for just a single-patty cheeseburger, she ordered a double. Of course, each beef patty was thicker than an entire cheeseburger including buns at a fast-food joint, so she ended up with a ridiculously tall burger that was impossible for even the biggest mouth to chomp down on.
As for me, I’m a creature of habit, and got my Grammy’s usual: a 14-ounce hamburger steak piled high with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms, with that and the accompanying giant twin scoops of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. And, naturally, I couldn’t eat it all. I don’t know that I ever have.
It was fun to watch everyone’s reactions as the gigantic mounds of food came out, and more fun to watch how much they had to package it up and take it home for later. Teri and Nick, who were spending the weekend four-wheeling in that neck of the woods, decided to come back the next morning and sample the breakfast—which they reported was as delicious and as plentiful as lunch.
Always Going Back
I’m hardly the first biker to discover Grammy’s Country Inn. I’ve never been the only motorcyclist there, and on nice days you’re bound to find entire groups of bikers converging on the parking lot. You’re also apt to see herds of four-wheelers, and in the winter the snowmobiles crowd in thanks to the nearby trails—ITS 83 literally crosses in Grammy’s back yard. Yet despite the fact that I talk about Grammy’s all the time to other motorcyclists, it’s always surprising how many of them have never visited. There are plenty who have heard about it but just have never made the trip, often because they assume we’re all exaggerating about the place. But there are also many who have just never heard of Grammy’s.
I always talk the place up, because I challenge anyone to be disappointed after eating there. Some bikers seem to take me seriously and make a mental note to visit, but many have the reaction my family did: polite acknowledgement while mentally rolling their eyes at my exaggeration. I keep getting a secret kick out of knowing that they’re going to discover that I wasn’t messing with them.
So what do you find at Grammy’s? Great food, and lots of it, at a restaurant that is very biker friendly. And on a nice day you can’t do much better than this magnificent ride. Whether you follow my route through the Haynesville Woods, take I-95, or ride any other roads, I maintain that Grammy’s Country Inn is one of the finest places to eat and easily one that you’ll want to ride to again.
Grammy’s is located 1687 Bangor Road in Linneus, Maine. As of this writing, it’s open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find them on Facebook.