Summer treats, gas station eats: Finding great food, right by the highway

Chef Andie Bulman knows her way around fine dining, and she also has a thing for roadside restaurants that get it right. She takes us to one of her favourite places: Goobies.

Andie Bulman finds out why Goobies has long been a draw for hungry travellers

It's important to watch out for moose while driving the province's highways, but the moose at the Goobies Big Stop can be a welcome sight. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

I love eating at gas stations.

I'm not talking about expired candy bars, forgotten, rotating hot dogs, or off-brand chips. Those have their place, but that article would be about road trip snacks.

I love the oddball takeout counters and diners that are attached to roadside service stations. Oftentimes, these weird little pit stops are more intriguing than some stuffy five-course tasting menu — and I say that as a chef.

Since moving to Newfoundland, I've discovered that it is full of charming roadside restaurants. Some of the best are just off the highway, but others are on the back roads en route to distant outports.

Andie Bulman with Betty Eddy — known to many as Betty the Baker — who has been working at the Goobies Big Stop for nearly 40 years. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

To begin a series of pieces over the months to come, I figured our first stop should be a popular stop when travelling west from St. John's: Goobies!

There are many reasons to adore the Goobies Big Stop.

To begin with, the gas station restaurant always seems to appear at the exact moment your gas needle touches red, your legs cramp and your stomach growls.

Secondly, the atmosphere is special. Locals in hunting garb sidle shoulder-to-shoulder eating lemon meringue pie, the bread is homemade and fluffy and the person taking my order always calls me "hun."

The clubhouse sandwich at Goobies Big Stop is 'a work of art,' says Andie Bulman. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

The grub is mostly comfort food with a few slight Newfoundland twists.

I've had amazing clubhouse sandwiches at the Goobies Big Stop, with bread that's toasted just right and crisp bacon and mayo spread evenly. This might sound simple, but I think the clubhouse is something that most restaurants overlook.

Many are often soggy and sent out in a rush, but the Goobies club is a work of art.

I can also strongly recommend the homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing, the root beer float — fun, and with so much sugar — and of course you cannot go wrong with the all-day breakfast menu.

The carrot cake is homemade, with a cream cheese icing. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

Finally, I cannot celebrate the merits of Goobies without mentioning the unstoppable Betty Eddy.

"Betty the Baker" is an 80-year-old from Swift Current who is to thank for cakes, pies and breads at the Goobies Big Stop.

She's being doing it since 1979.

Betty is sassy, beloved by her co-workers and is still pumping out the baked treats at an incredible pace. She said she adores her work and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

I had a chance to bake with her and could barely match her pace.

Betty is my hero.

Betty the Baker says her sweet dough is much like a bread dough — just with more sugar and butter. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

Where are your favourite roadside eats?

Goobies checks all the boxes for me: it's an original gas station restaurant with an outstanding staff, but I want to hear about your favorites.

Does your town have an amazing hole-in-the-wall attached to a gas station? Where do you stop when you're on the road?

Watch the video of our CBC trip to Goobies, and let us know where we should eat next!

Great baked goods from a gas station

4 years ago
Duration 1:28
Chef Andie Bulman joins 80-year-old Betty Eddy in the kitchen at Goobies Big Stop to bake some sweet dough.

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Andie Bulman

Freelance contributor

Andie Bulman is a chef, writer and comedian in St. John's. She is the author of the book Salt Beef Buckets: A Love Story and writes frequently for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.