Cafeteria-style restaurants, in my experience, are not the most creative places for food.
However, the Oil Lamp Restaurant in Perry takes a few of their dishes to the extreme and makes them unique.
For example, the loaded mashed potatoes incorporate bacon, sour cream and loads of real cheddar cheese into a side dish that really tasted like a baked potato.
The carrot souffle was another delight.
It looked just like a sweet potato casserole, made with cinnamon and pecans, but one bite and it was definitely a pureed carrot dish. The texture and flavors complemented each other, with the carrots giving a balance to the sweetness.
My only disappointments were the biscuits and the cheesecake.
Both times I had the biscuits, they were hard and cold. When I think of biscuits, I like them to be piping hot where the butter melts and the biscuit melts in my mouth.
Cheesecake is supposed to have some flavor of cream cheese, but, although the texture was different than any cheesecake Ive had, so was the bland flavor.
My favorite dessert was the blueberry surprise. When I saw it spinning around in the very large glass display case, I knew it had to be mine. The whipped topping and blueberry filling with a graham cracker crust was exactly the way my mother used to make it, and brought me back a few years to living at home.
There are usually a few meats to choose from and a variety of sides. The times I went they had meatloaf, which my dining companion said was very good, despite having a tomato-based sauce, pot roast, fried chicken, fish and country-fried steak.
The salad bar was packed with fresh selections, including a marshmallow-cherry concoction that was delicious.
Despite arriving much later than the lunch crowd and too early for dinner, everything looked fresh and didnt taste like it had been sitting for hours.
I took my child to lunch, and with two entrees, two drinks and two desserts, the meal cost $20.
If you decide to brave the lunch crowds, be prepared to park elsewhere as the small parking lot does not have ample room for all patrons.
After a few meals there, I can see why the down-home cooking at Oil Lamp draws in the crowds.
Oil Lamp Restaurant
Address: 401 Courtney Hodges Blvd., Perry
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays
Payment: Cash, credit, debit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Medium
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Health Rating: 100
Price range: Meals $6.75 to $11
Rating: 3 stars