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Longtime local truck stop sticks to its roots

November 11, 2018

Once a staple of the American road, they are a dying breed.

But Fort Wayne still has a truck stop diner : a good one that has been feeding folks more than 40 years : and I hope it never gets replaced by a fast-food chain like so many others.

The Point in the Fort Wayne Truck Plaza will fill you with nostalgia with a throwback menu featuring a strong breakfast base, good homemade favorites like the broasted chicken special every Monday night and, of course, good coffee and pie. And it is all available 24/7.

The Point is not a greasy spoon. It hasn’t been neglected over the years and has a clean, somewhat modern look that makes it much more of a solid family restaurant than just a place for truckers.

The booths and tables look new, there are attractive light brick accents on walls and pillars and nifty drop lights over the booths that give it an upscale boost. But there is still a solid Americana vibe with eye-catching murals : a farm scene in the back and an American flag with the Pledge of Allegiance and a fighter jet flying on it.

The menu does not exactly have the same modern edge, but the addition of a salad bar in a nook near the entrance is a nice addition that few truck stops offer.

The breakfast platter I had was flawless, as it should be. The country-fried steak and eggs featured a thin cutlet of beef that was perfectly breaded and fried until super-crisp so it would hold up under the creamy, white, nicely peppered gravy covering it. The fried potatoes on the side were exemplary, my eggs were runny like I requested and I had nary an issue.

The same went for a sandwich that pretty much screams truck stop food.

My half-pound patty melt was dripping with buttery, well-seasoned grilled onions; there was enough melted Swiss cheese to ooze down on my plate; the burger was juicy and cooked to the requested temperature; and the buttery grilled light rye made it even more sinfully good.

Mom’s Meatloaf was also pretty darn good and the slow-cooked green beans that came with it indeed had me thinking of my mom.

The thick slice of loaf, which was dotted with green peppers, was moist and had a nice flavor. It was covered with a dark brown, processed gravy, which I did not care for at all. A ketchup sauce would have been better. The beans were loaded with diced onions and bacon, and they truly tasted as if they had been stewing away for hours.

The mashed potatoes that came with it nearly ruined my whole meal. They were whipped instant potatoes and they too were covered with that bad gravy. Instant potatoes at a truck stop touting food “just like mom’s” was simply wrong, and it really perplexed me because The Point takes time to hand-cut its french fries, which were excellent. If you can take time to make fresh fries, you can take time to make mashed potatoes.

I would recommend the coleslaw and soups as side choices. The slaw was slightly sweet and not overdressed so it tasted fresh as the cabbage and carrot slivers maintained their integrity. It was dotted with celery seeds and was one of the better versions I have found in a while.

The minestrone and vegetable soups were pretty similar, and both were spot on. The veggie had snappy green beans, carrots, corn, celery and cabbage along with chunks of tomato and potato, all swimming in a very tasty tomato broth. The minestrone’s base was the same but did not have cabbage and did have a variety of Italian herbs, flat Italian green beans, kidney beans, peas, penne pasta and fresh basil leaves.

The salad bar was decent but not worth getting overly excited about. It did, however, make the mediocrity of the side salad, which had just one cherry tomato, one cucumber, a few white onion circles and shredded cheese, stand out. There were plenty of other good items on that bar so making a better side salad should have been easy.

Another major disappointment was the BLT. Given that The Point does breakfast so well, there should be no shortage of bacon. But my BLT had way more lettuce and tomato than delicious crispy pork.

And when it came to the most healthy dish I tried : not exactly a plethora of those on the menu here : it, too, was a failure.

The baked whitefish was pale, dry and flavorless. Trying to add butter from the little sealed plastic cups on the table was fruitless. And, honestly, slathering it with butter kind of defeats the purpose.

There were great dessert options to sooth the regrets I had for trying to get something healthy.

The Point made a great thick milkshake and the layered cakes and pies : courtesy of a Chicago baking company : in the dessert case were enticing. The blueberry pie was just right with plenty of berries instead of being mostly gel. The cake layers in the chocolate cake were a tad dry but there was more than enough whipped icing between each layer, and a rich ganache and a couple of pieces of chocolate bark on top to more than offset it.

The service at The Point was : in good old-fashioned truck stop fashion : great. My servers were attentive, very welcoming and not shy about telling me what was good and what was not when it came to the food.

It made visiting this truck stop worth the drive, even if you are not driving a big rig.

Restaurant: The Point

Address: 3039 Goshen Road

Phone: 484-5426

Hours: 24/7

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Soup (7.99 alone; 9.95), patty melt (6.95), fish (9.95), pie (3.95), milkshake ($3.55)

Rating breakdown: Food: ★ (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: ★ (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall. 

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