Like a keepsake put in the attic and forgotten about until years later when it becomes a valuable collectable, Ginger’s Restaurant tucked away at the end of the Peninsula Center Mall is one of Soldotna’s secret treasures.
It also is seemingly an eatery that time forgot. Like Jack Rabbit Slims from the Quentin Tarantino blockbuster “Pulp Fiction,” Ginger’s specializes in a 1950’s theme. Numerous pictures and posters of Hollywood legends such as James Dean, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the cartoon sweetheart Betty Boop help establish the atmosphere. Also, similar to a Planet Hollywood, there are leather jackets and Poodle skirts and blouses that look as though they were part of the wardrobe for the movie “Grease” before finding their way onto the walls of Ginger’s. There are also other remnants of a by-gone era - vinyl records that trim the dinning room for parents wishing to explain to their children what life was like before CD’s, MP3’s and iPods. To further lend to the history lesson, piping through the speakers of the restaurant is what else...oldies music of course.
The dining room can easily hold 50 people, not to mention a half dozen seats at the counter. Also, since Ginger’s is in the mall, food can be ordered then picked up after some brief perusing through General Nutrition Center, Passion Too, Bruce’s Street and Skate, or any of the other stores within the mall.
As to the food, it is what you would expect from a 1950’s-themed restaurant, that being American cuisine, and, as if a reflection of the simpler time that the restaurant strives for, the food is also simple and yet delicious.
Burgers are a staple of an American-themed restaurant and Ginger’s has five to choose from, and all come with lettuce, onion, pickle, mayo and a choice of either French fries, potato salad, soup or salad. Here’s a hint, red-blooded Americans go for the fries with their burgers.
The flagship burger of Ginger’s is the Soldotna Burger which would do any Atkin’s dieter proud since it comes loaded with melted cheddar cheese, crisp bacon and more ham than my grocery store butcher would fork over the counter. I had one of these bad boys for lunch last week and it left me feeling sorry I hadn’t worn sweat pants or some other elastic waist wear that day. Not to be outdone, the cheese burger, mushroom burger, chili burger and bleu cheese burger smothered in melted bleu cheese crumble are also equally filling. There is also a patty melt on grilled rye bread topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed onions for those who don’t do buns.
While burgers are a classic, there are many places to find them in town. However, Ginger’s has not forgotten the lost art of hot-doggery as well. While hot dog eateries used to be common on many street corners, they seem to have been out-competed by burger joints chains. Too bad, because as a kid I used to like going out for a tasty hotdog, corn dog or chili dog. One more reason Ginger’s is a blast from the past. Their menu features two wiener options: the half car Coney comes with chili and cheese, while the Derek dog comes with sauerkraut. Both frankfurters are served with fries.
Ginger’s also has a wide selection of salads and sandwiches to choose from. There are numerous chicken and turkey options, both fried and grilled, for those who are looking for an alternative to beef or pork. There is also a liver and onions dish that comes with mashed potatoes and gravy for those longing for not just an old fashioned meal, but a home-style meal as well.
To wash it all down, Ginger’s has a bevy of fountain beverages, but in sticking with the old-time theme I would highly recommend the option of either: a root beer float, malt or milkshake. While I believe any excuse to drink a milkshake is a good excuse, Ginger’s has a caramel shake, in addition to the usual flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
My only complaint with Ginger’s was if they were going to go with a 1950’s theme, why not go all out and have the waitresses on roller skates. All kidding aside, though, my overall experience at Ginger’s was a positive one. I will definitely return as it is a great place to pop in for a quick and hearty lunch.
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