by Alice Levitt
Route 302 & I-91 - (exit 17 off I-91), Wells River 429-2141
After hours spent on the open road, a trucker needs some great grub to break up the day. It's the same for me, except my open road is the 7 Nights guide. Our sedentary lifestyles should preclude us from eating big, fat, rich meals, but when faced with a place like P&H, resistance is futile.
Mine is one of the only cars in the lot at P&H – every other vehicle is an 18-wheeler. There's a small store out front selling all the basics. Upstairs, there are showers for drivers grubby after a long haul. Clearly many trucks have come a good distance – the menu is in French as well as English.
And what a menu it is.
Breakfast is served all day and many options include home-baked pastry. The french toast I tried as part of The Truckers Special ($9.99) was Texas-thick and incredibly airy. The toasted maple nut bread seemed redundant on the plate, until I tried it. Spread with apple-cinnamon jelly, it was a fabulous meal in itself. A pair of eggs arrived perfectly over-medium, hash browns crisp on the outside and tender inside, and sausages juicy and tangy.
There's an array of burgers on the menu, all named after trucks, but I went for a frequent special instead. My patty of Blue Mountain elk ($7.59, pictured) was so magnificently seasoned it required no ketchup. I requested it medium rare. It came to me medium well, but sufficiently juicy that I forgave the busy line cooks.
My favorite dish at the P&H was their kitchen's take on chicken-fried chicken ($8.59). The meat was juicy on the inside and the thick crust remained crispy even under a layer of yellow gravy. The side of mashed potatoes had to have been 60% butter. I usually don't especially care for non-garlic, non-smashed potatoes, but these blew my mind.
After 3.5 meals, I didn't have room for dessert, so I stocked up at the bakery counter. The coconut cream pie was wonderfully airy, as was the maple and chocolate glazed doughnut. I found my blueberry corn muffin too moist. I felt like Mr. Ed trying to remove it from the walls of my mouth. The cream puff overflowed the burger-sized container in which it came. Although I ate it three days after buying it, that too was light and luscious. That said, my favorite dessert at the P&H was still the mashed potatoes.