The angus beef burgers at Blast from the Past Diner are the perfect summer meal after a day spent outside. Photos by Deirdre Flaming

Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the ’70s who loved that 1950s-era TV show “Happy Days,” but I found the Blast from the Past Diner fun no matter what the fare.

In this rural town 45 minutes southwest of Portland, it’s a head-turner, with the chrome-and-red, old-time diner facade. Step inside the double doors and you are welcomed by the 5-foot-tall multicolored jukebox that greets you with early rock ‘n’ roll and transports you to another time.

My partner and I stopped by on a whim after paddleboarding on Little Ossipee Pond on a summer Saturday. We were lucky to get there around 5 p.m. and beat the rush. When we left an hour later, the place had filled up. But when we arrived, there were only a few people at the counter and scattered around in three to four booths. There’s ample seating on both sides of the diner counter and, of course, in booths with red leather seats, to complement the chrome decor and ’50s memorabilia throughout.

Our young waitress was fun, attentive and – something I always appreciate – incredibly honest. When my partner asked about their small selection of wine, she responded with a giggle: “This isn’t really a fancy place.”

The staff seems to enjoy working here as much as the customers relish the trip through time to a slower, lower-tech era. I know we did.

My guy ordered the baked haddock ($13.99), which was a perfectly fine, fresh fish meal. I got what I felt one should get at a diner: a cheeseburger with fries ($9.58). And I couldn’t have been happier. The onions, tomatoes and lettuce all tasted farm-fresh, and the burger – billed as a half-pound of fresh angus beef – was juicy.

If I did it again, I’d stop at the Blast from the Past at the exact same time and order the very same meal – but add a root beer float or milkshake, in true “Happy Days” fashion.

Blast from the Past has several specialty burgers, like the pizza burger (with provolone cheese and marinara sauce for $10.64) and the western burger (with sauteed onions and peppers for $10.57).

I was tempted by several wraps, such as the lobster wrap ($15.99), the chicken Caesar ($9.99) and the Philly steak ($9.99). The homemade battered onion rings seem to be a specialty ($3.59 or a large for $5.99), as does the poutine ($8.99).

 

But the experience at Blast from the Past is less about the perfect meal than the old-fashioned atmosphere. The jukebox played a steady stream of oldies – Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” and loads of Elvis.

The happy diner hosts several events through the summer, like a brownie Sunday night and the popular Cruise Night, where antique cars circa 1950 line up outside. The latter happens every Saturday from mid-May to mid-September, from 4 to 8 p.m., and undoubtedly proves a bonafide chance to relive and experience “Happy Days.”


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