I went and voted. And then I needed some comfort food.
I had gone on an empty stomach to cast the ballot at the Elkhart County Health Department building at Harrison and Oakland. I had done the democratic privilege and duty ahead of Election Day.
I wasn’t the only one there to do this and the process was orderly. Democracy in action.
The head-start on voting resulted in a late lunch, but I settled in among the business lunches underway at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk.
There was the former co-worker, now in a new job. There was the woman training a new employee and several larger gatherings. Elizabeth White, an excellent server, was handling the lunch rush more than capably.
I had come for comfort food. I had come for the beef manhattan, a sensible Midwestern dish if there ever was one. It’s the lunch special at McCarthy’s during Dining Days. The $30 dinner special includes three courses, but the lunch special is a plate full of predictability in a time of election upheaval.
There’s a base of toasted bread, cut into triangles. Mashed potatoes are nestled in the middle. Two large piles of shaved roast beef go on top of the bread. A rich gravy goes on top of all of it, not drowning it like a politician’s rhetoric, but plenty. It’s a prettier, more refined manhattan than most.
The roast beef manhattan at McCarthy’s is good. It’s an open-faced sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes at a time when openness isn’t a hallmark of a national presidential election. It’s middle America. It’s meat and potatoes. It’s good and comforting.
McCarthy’s has a well-appointed dining room and bar with dark wood and large windows to let in the fall light. The outdoor patio is one of the prettiest spots to dine in Elkhart.
After lunch, as I was leaving, I heard White ask a table of women if they were ready for their cocktails. It was just shy of 2 p.m. on a Monday.
Maybe they were getting a manhattan with their manhattan. It is election season, after all.