My son, Matthew, and I left for Binghamton, New York, today in order to spend some time with my dad, Frank, who has lung cancer and needs some help with paperwork. Airlines generally give you no food for free and hawk snack packs these days, so we tried our luck in the airport between connecting flights instead. In terms of the rip-off factor, Chi-town’s big dog of an airport is right up there. We had some kind of mass passing itself off as a sandwich at Wofgang Puck’s fast food stand and then a hot Angus beef hero at Quiznos. This was the only time I ever had latter’s grub, and it was not bad. These two items plus a couple drinks set us back $21 and change. After getting up at 3:30 a.m. Cali time and then dealing with a 3-hour delay in Chicago, getting our rental car in Syracuse and then driving the 70-odd miles south to Binghamton, we were bedraggled when we arrived at the Motel 6. Not too bedraggled, however, to miss the large diner on the same street, which we paid a visit to after some minor delousing. The Spot Diner on Front Street in Binghamton was welcoming when we rolled in around 10:00 p.m. Ah, the wonder of a diner menu! Pages and pages of comfort food not to be found in much of the SF Bay Area, and, when it is, it is gussied up and fussy and expensive. Although I knew this would be a difficult trip in terms of my father’s illness, it would at least allow us to eat at the same kind of diners we grew up with in Queens. Matthew happily ordered the yee-ro when we noticed it was Greek-run, and I summoned the roast chicken dinner. A half chicken, real mashers, corn and a biscuit — all covered with cream gravy. That was after the small Greek salad and cup of Yankee bean soup. All this for under $10. While the Spot in no way measures up to greats like the Neptune, Bel-Aire and Keystone in Astoria, Queens, it was pretty good. We fell into bed full and exhausted. Incidentally, the Motel 6 in Binghamton is great. The rooms are every bit as nice as the pricier chains, and this one is fairly new so it is very clean. Big rooms and not tacky or seedy at all.
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