One of my first memories is looking up at everyone’s legs from under a table in a restaurant trying with the best of my toddler -self skills to get out of the rather restrictive dress and shiny black shoe ensemble I was dressed in for some sort of event, probably one of those random times during my childhood when we went to the Greek Orthodox church or to the ward with Grandma Marion. I remember being snapped up right as i was unbuckling my shoe, by my mom, when I looked up a waitress handed me a balloon, with the “Dee’s” logo on it, growing up in Ogden, Utah, visits here were like a rite of passage to the developing Ogdenite. Dee’s also always had suckers in the front “for the road”, which my sister Georgia and I would play a game with, we would throw them in the road and whoever’s got smashed by a car first got their wish, Dee’s was on Washington blvd, or the “Vard” as we called it, it was the street the kids cruised on to meet potential love mates before tinder, or instagram existed, it was on the way to the Ogden Mall which was quite fancy in the 80’s and into the early 90’s, even being the location of the Tiffany “I think we’re alone now” music video…wow, seeing that typed out looks pretty hilarious, but I digress. The waitresses well into the early 2000’s wore old school waitressing uniforms with pink or blue pinstripe and lil’ hats, I always wanted to work there so I get my hands on one of those dresses and style it al’a Courtney Love (the debut “Hole” album years). I never got that chance but we did have our own restaurant across the street and many times after service some of us would go over and eat dinner there, you never want to eat at the joint you can eat at for free…LOL. The food was never great, this wasn’t like a “Jean George” moment, this was red state, plastic plate, bland, diner grub….but honestly, it was consistent, affordable, and not what we were serving at our place so I more than once enjoyed it! A good go-to order was the “chicken teriyaki burger” or you could have it with a beef patty…but something about the chicken made me feel more healthy. I am sharing my version of it, as I do feel sad that after 36 years as an Ogden institution, there before I was even born, and basically a place I went at least a few times a year my whole life closed down permanently a few years back. The owner just closed it one day, leaving all his long time employees and customers in shock. Times change, tastes change, and people die that is why it is important to always pay respect to the places of that past, regardless of how benign they seemed at the time:
You will need:
2 chicken breasts, split in half this will make four sandwiches, I brined mine for a few hours in pickle juice, but you can just salt and pepper them…Dee’s didn’t brine theirs. Or alternately you could use any meat or non meat “patty” you like.
4 slices of swiss cheese
4 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce, choose your favorite.
1 cup of sauteed mushrooms, I think they used canned ones, so no judgement here…do you boo!
4 Sesame hamburger buns, lightly buttered and toasted for maximum authenticity.
Grill your chicken or pan sear whichever, cook it!
When your chicken or patty is to your liking, top with mushrooms, sauce and then top with cheese, yes, in that precise order or give up on the whole endeavour as it won’t be right, ok that is dramatic but there is method to the madness, cheese hold the mushrooms in like corset, “fat man in little coat style” and part of the beauty of this simple thing is the right bite, you need each ingredient in each bite to enjoy it fully.
Put it on the bun and add some lettuce and tomato if you like.
Nostalgic pleasure is sometimes the best kind, without a backstory a recipe means nothing, without feeling you really can’t cook and enjoy it all that much. Make things that ground you and remind you where you have come from so you can put that energy into your future….wow, I crown myself the “Queen of runon sentences” but we are on a budget here so I don’t have a copywriter. Happy cooking!
R.I.P. Dee’s Family Restaurant
3360 Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84401