I have to give the credit to Lisa Hornung of Gannett’s Velocity weekly for blazing the trail to this funny little roadside spot in rural Southern Indiana with its sign that proudly proclaims “4,081 GYROS SOLD” (as of Oct. 18, 2005), but I headed on over to A.J.’s Coffee ‘n’ Cream as soon as I found out about it, and the short journey led to a memorable lunch.
Just a couple of miles from the landmark Polly’s Freeze (in fact, it’s at the same I-64 exit, going the other way), A.J’s bears a marked resemblance to Polly’s. It’s a small, free-standing white cottage just large enough to hold a kitchen and a couple of people working inside, with hand-written menus plastered all across the sides and front of the building. Walk up, call your order through the screen window, and hang around. In a few minutes someone will shove good things to eat through a similar window a couple of feet down. Or you can wheel up to a drive-in window on the side and go through a similar process. There’s no indoor dining, but a quartet of picnic tables out front (and a small one for the kids) made a comfortable alfresco dining room on a brilliant autumn day.
Give Polly’s a slight edge for its larger and more parklike grounds. But frankly, I’ll give A.J.’s the trophy for food quality: While Polly’s features standard roadfood – burgers and dogs and the memorable “porketta” – A.J.’s takes the prize for pretty much all those things plus a small but fine sampling of Greek fare featuring hearty gyros ($4.75) made from Kronos-brand gyros meat and exceptionally tender and tasty pitas that, I’m told, are “hand-made in Chicago.”
The flags of the U.S., the U.K. and Greece all fluttering from the front roofline tell the story of A.J.’s in a nutshell: Navy Veteran Joe Hanover, of Georgetown, met his wife Alison, an Englishwoman, when they were both in Greece. They returned back to Joe’s home to start a restaurant, and took care to include the Greek food that they had learned to love.
We enjoyed two estimable gyros, a big tray of golden-fried onion rings, another tray of equally fine hand-cut homemade potato chips, a cola and a thick, creamy coffee milkshake ($3.95) and got away for $20 even including a donation to the tip jar.
Now it’s going to be tough to decide whether to go to A.J.’s or Polly’s when I’m out this way. Maybe both? A progressive Hoosier dinner might be just the thing.
A.J.’s is at 9280 Ind. 64 in Georgetown, Ind., (812) 951-1715. Head out I-64, through New Albany and up the hill, exiting at Ind. 64 for Georgetown. Turn right at the foot of the ramp (a left at that point will take you to Polly’s Freeze) and follow the highway for a couple of miles, alongside a railroad track. Just past the center of the village of Georgetown you’ll spot A.J.’s on the right.