I thought I would do something different today so I went to the Golden Heritage Senior Center here in Burley. This wasn’t my first trip to the Senior Center and it won’t be my last.

So many of us think of the Senior Center as a place for seniors to go to get some hot food and a little bit of conversation. You will get both of these items to be sure, but there is a lot more to it.

Ambiance: If you think about the surroundings you would find in a church fellowship hall, gymnasium or any other multipurpose room, that’s about what you should expect at the Senior Center. Their main goal isn’t making money, though they need to cover their costs. Their purpose is providing a safe environment for people to gather and share each other’s fellowship.

Seating: The tables and chairs are purposeful but that’s about it. The configuration of the dining area shifts around from time to time depending on what they’ve got going on. There are round tables with the typically uncomfortable chairs – but they accomplish the requirement of a steady place to park our derriere.

Noise: You should expect to hear a lot of chatter between diners because that socialization is what brings people in. I’m sure there are tables where the same people sit in the same place every day but the format is meant to have you comfortable pulling a chair up at any table to introduce yourself. There wasn’t much noise coming from the kitchen.

Bathrooms: Clean and functional is a pretty good grade for the restrooms which have separate men’s and women’s sides.

Service: You won’t get a lot of service at the Senior Center because that isn’t the format. Imagine going back to 7th grade and you’ll pretty much have it down. You’ll slide your tray along the food line and the chef will serve up what’s on the menu that day. After getting your tray of food you will find your own seat. When you are done you can return the tray so it can be washed and ready for the next day’s meal.

Food: I went to the Burley Senior Center on this specific day because I had seen their menu which was liver and onions. Yes, I know many of you hate the taste of liver, but if it is prepared properly it can be a delicious meal. I was a little hesitant about the onions because they looked like fine angel hair pasta, but once I put them in my mouth I could see why they were prepared the way they were. The combination of liver and onions - accentuated by the right amount of ketchup, were all I needed to walk away delighted about my experience.

Value: I would say that this lunch was the best value you will find anywhere, save a church dinner with a freewill offering. For five dollars I got a generous helping of liver and onions, cheesy au gratin potatoes, cake and a dinner roll. I will confess that I didn’t stay and eat at the senior center, choosing instead to get my meal to go so I could have my lunch with my granddaughter, Madison, who recently moved out of state.

The best part of dining at the senior center is that you don’t have to be old and broke to eat there. I’m still seven years short of retirement but I was as welcome as anyone else in the center. It is because of these kinds of experiences that people keep coming back, even when they are serving liver and onions!

Understanding the Scores: I have been told that my scoring system is confusing, so I’ll try to explain what each measurement means as I score my visit. On the cost of the meal, the fewer dollar signs, the lower the cost of the meal. Fewer dollar signs is good. On service, the more stars the better job I felt our server did. Bathrooms are easy, the cleaner and more up to date the bathrooms are the more outhouses you will see. Finally, on food quality, the more forks there are the happier I was with my meal. I hope this clarifies the scoring.

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