Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oriental Buffet

774 S. Truman Blvd.

Festus, MO.

Angel had a hankering for Chinese and there was no use trying to change her mind, not that we objected. We decided to return to the new-ish Chinese buffet in Festus, the one that we visited just after it opened. At that time the place didn’t fare very well, but it was new and I’ll always excuse first-week issues.

The Place:

In a strip mall just south of Highway A on Truman Blvd. It sits near the Great Clips, the place I get my hair styled. Inside it was still clean and neat, no used or mismatched furniture. The front counter was inviting and surrounded by Chinese bric-a-brac, jade statues, cork carvings, the usual. To the right of the counter stood a three foot long yellow, jade-looking Chinese style ship. The various nooks and crannies of the ship were stuffed with coins and dollar bills. I immediately concluded that the money would be used to fund terrorism. Angel rejected that perfectly rational notion, she’s naïve about the ways of the real world.

We were immediately seated near the back. Our table was directly beneath a speaker and Chinese-ish music played quite loudly. I’m not that familiar with Chinese music but this sounded like it was being played on slightly off-key harmonicas and zithers.* Our drink orders were taken as we stood behind our respective chairs, tea, tea, Coke. The young Asian lady nodded her head politely and scampered off. We bee-lined it for the buffet.

The Food:

We all three bypassed the sushi counter because nobody should have to eat that stuff. There was a dessert bar and a salad bar that we also passed up. There were two bars for main courses, the typical chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, rice and noodles, and (blech!) fried frog legs. I served up just a small portion of the things I like, a couple of chunks of General Tso’s a couple more of the honey-glazed chicken, a small portion of the brownish rice, seven or eight noodles, a rangoon, some bacon wrapped krab, and some (as labeled) buttered ‘popatoes’. (fried potato chunks). I stopped only when the plate was crowded but not overflowing. Angel and Adam were already at the table, there was very little conversation. The tea had been delivered, it was awful.

The food was in many cases just fine, there were some exceptions though. The rice was bland, uninteresting. What veggie bits there were in it tasted just like the rice. The noodles were better but maybe a bit too sweet. The chickens were all tender and fresh, quite tasty. The ‘house beef’ was awful, dry, tough, leathery, chewy. The rangoon was limp and the filling was a bit too sweet. The bacon/krab thing was quite good, it’s hard to screw up bacon. The krab it surrounded was completely tasteless, Adam called it the tofu of the sea. Angel asked me about the rangoon, I replied that it was a bit flaccid. (obvious joke deleted) She responded that the reason she didn’t get any was that they’re always that way, as if they’d been baked or steamed rather than deep-fried. I finished my plate and just sat for a moment, Angel did as well. We discussed the various items and the merits of each.

From my vantage point I could see the front door. In walked a young lady in a high maintenance hairdo, a little too much makeup, and wearing what I can only describe as a party dress, shiny, frilly, cut low at the highest points and high at the lowest points, exposing more cleavage and gams than you would normally find just around town. Very shortly after she walked in the door opened and in walked a clutch of three or four others in similar style. Angel noticed me staring (ogling), and turned to look, Adam did too, as I fully expected him to.

“Must be something going on.” Angel said. I continued staring because I’m a guy and that’s just what we do.

“Yep, I just can’t imagine why they’re here” I answered.

“Prom?” Angel asked?

“Too early in the year” Adam replied.

“What do you mean ‘prom’?” I snapped.

“What do you think they’re dressed like that for?” Angel fired back accusingly.

“Duh, hello! They’re prostitutes and they’re dressed for work!”

Adam laughed, Angel didn’t. “Keep our voice down, they’re not prostitutes, they’re just kids”

I laughed. “Like you would know, look at them all primped up beyond reasonable neighborhood standards, showing more skin than any innocent person would ever, and they’ve got boobs. They’re not kids, they’re prostitutes!”

“They’re teenagers, teenagers have boobs too.” She scolded, scoldingly.

“Not where I come from they don’t! Not the good Christian teenagers anyhow. Not that I ever saw.”

The girls/prostitutes walked past then disappeared into a back room.

“Where did they go?” Adam asked.

“Hello, party time! They went to the party room.”

“Just shut up.” Angel abruptly concluded the conversation.

We went for seconds, as my first portions were rather small I pretty much just got more of the same. Less rice, more noodles, another rangoon because a limp rangoon is always better than no rangoon. Angel and Adam got stuff that included broccoli which disappointed me. I don’t really like to be seen in public with broccoli eaters. They said it was good but I assume that’s what they are programmed to say by the talking heads on the Food Network. Some of those fanatics, food-fascists, are worse than Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck in their mindless ranting about ‘fresh, healthy veggies.’

The prostitutes came and went, always attached to cell phones, likely checking in with their pimps, johns, tricks and parole officers. They seemed happy but I knew that it was a just a façade, I watch the lifetime channel, I know how tortured and drug-addled they really are. It troubled me that this nice restaurant was a front for such illicit activities. Angel was too, I was sure, as she didn’t want to even think about it. She merely told me to shut up every time I brought up my displeasure and righteous disgust.**

Angel and I went back for dessert, she got brown pudding and a little cookie that she all but spat out when she realized it was made almost entirely of coconut. I was smarter and got the bananas with red sauce, some apple salad, and some yellow pudding. I was quite pleased and spat nothing out.


We discussed this meal at length and reached a consensus. Some of the offerings were quite good, some not at all. At a buffet you can pick and choose, so it’s pretty hard to be completely disappointed. The bill came to thirty four dollars and change, a real bargain. For this price, even if only a couple of items are appealing to you can eat as much as you want. The tea was terrible, I highly recommend asking for plain water instead. The chairs were stylish, but too soft, like a living room chair that hardly anyone ever actually sits in for any length of time.

All that being said, this buffet is geographically closer to our home than any of the others we’ve tried, and none of the others in the area is really all that much better. It is likely in the future that when we crave Chinese that we will return. It’s cheap, close and some of the food doesn’t suck. I’ll rate it a three out of a possible seven chopsticks. Springfield MO. is still the Mecca of Midwestern style Chinese food.


*Zither: (n) a musical instrument consisting of a flat shallow sound-box with metal strings stretched across it that are plucked. (Encarta Dictionary)

The Chinese version of this is called a ‘guzheng’, which is probably the incorrect spelling, not that it matters, I wouldn’t pronounce it correctly anyhow. The earliest guzheng was found in the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, in Suizhou, Hubei, China, dated around 433 BCE. Which is probably why it sounded off-key.

** The fancy-dressed ladies. The following morning I returned to the area for a haircut. I was serviced by the chattiest lady in the joint, she just went on, and on, and on. At one point she queried one of the other stylists in her sing-songy, shrill voice: “So Brandi, how was homecoming last night?”

I passed this information on to Angel when I got home. “Oh that explains it.” She said. I was baffled. “That explains nothing!” I shouted very quietly. “Why would they allow prostitutes at a homecoming?” She, of course, had no answer for that.

Oriental Buffet on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kim's Cafe II: Boys night out.

Main Street
, Mo.

Angel was in Wisconsin for her yearly pilgrimage to learn more and more about training dogs. She took the energetic DeeDee with her, leaving Adam and I with a mere five dogs to maintain. Adam was in charge of that effort as my work takes enormous chunks out of my availability. She’s gone out of town before, Adam and I usually take this as a reason to go to places that serve breakfast all day. I don’t know why. As we were discussing this I suggested, then insisted that we go back to Kim’s since she offers full time breakfast.

We fed the dogs and put them away for a nap and took off in my mighty 2000 Olds Alero Coupe. This is my commuter car (75 miles per day), my findagrave car, my weekend individual events and chores car. Angel’s only ridden in it a couple of times, Adam maybe a couple more. It has that lived-in ambiance to it, so before we went to the café, I took it to the car wash and vacuumed it out.

We got to the café about 5:00 PM, we were the only customers.

The place:

Kim had friend’ed me on Facebook after someone showed her my Eat-and-Critique blog entry from our previous visit. I sent her a note earlier in the week letting her know we would be stopping in. Though we were the only customers at the time, I couldn’t tell for sure if Kim knew who we were, so I decided to let it stay that way for a while.

We picked a booth out of the bright sun and sat down, Kim followed us and handed us menus and informed us of the two specials, pulled pork, and all-you-can-eat spaghetti.

I could smell the smoked pork, or at least I thought I could, and as I scanned the various breakfast options none of it seemed as appealing as a pulled pork sandwich. Adam shifted too, struggling to decide what to order when he liked pretty much everything. We ordered our drinks Tea and Pepsi and they arrived pretty quickly.

We finally decided. I indeed would have the pork, as a sandwich, which came with baked beans and coleslaw. I added fries to the order since Adam had told me they made crinkly fries, I like crinkly fries. Adam chose chicken nuggets, fries and corn. She took our order and scurried away.

Adam and I sat and looked around, neither of us are very chatty. The music was unusual so I asked him what it was that I was listening to, whether it was hip-hop, or reggae or some different genre. “I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know it’s ‘Ludacris’.”

I recognized the name, which was odd. I don’t listen to music much, well, hardly ever. I don’t claim to keep up with the industry or trends and couldn’t tell you any top ten songs for the last twenty or so years, if there still are top ten songs. I’m really, really out of touch with all forms of music.

Ludicris and I have something in common as it turns out, a bond that reaches across cultural and musical barriers. Ludacris, Christopher Brian Bridges, was born in Champaign, Illinois in September 1977. I transferred to Chanute AFB, very near Champaign (Rantoul) In September 1977. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences. (Actually I do, I just say that because that’s what all the cops in all the books I read say.)

The music was booming but not too much, not like that car that runs up and down our street too frequently, booming its booming booms enough to shake leaves off the trees. Ludacris’ delivery was at least mildly tolerable even though I could not quite discern most of the lyrics other than, and I’m not making this up, “nick nack paddy wack”. Hearing this much I thought I might make out the rest of the song, but it turns out Ludacris was not singing “This Old Man” after all. In fact, this song was not especially kid friendly at all, it was in fact, a little suggestive (and by ‘little’ I mean ‘extremely’) and generally disrespectful.

That song was followed by a heavy metal, hair band ballad that I recognized but really didn’t care for. This was apparently a mix tape, or whatever you call personal compilations these days.

Looking around I noticed a corner table with paperwork and a book, I assumed it was Kim’s workspace. I was immediately saddened to see that the book was one of Nora Roberts’ latest, future-themed pseudo-bodice-rippers, “Strangers in Death”. I was once tricked into reading one of Nora Roberts’ books. The very popular Ms. Roberts also writes thriller/mystery novels using the pseudonym J.D. Robb. Not knowing that at the time, I picked up a book by Robb and suffered reading it. It took place in the near future, just far enough that the day can always be saved by a little deus ex machine.* Sure it contained a crime, a serial killer, but the thin criminal plot played second or third fiddle to the main character’s (female) sobs, moans, inner lusts and desires.

Her knees weakened whenever this man she should really hate and fear passed near her. The musky scent of his sweat and cologne quietly wafted through the suddenly hot, electric air. She really should know better, she DID know better, but the savage, animal lust in her pined for his closeness, his danger, his strength, his manhood. She quivered as the cooling sweat ran down her neck and beneath the delicate lace that barely covered her . . . .

But I digress.

The Food:

The food arrived. The sandwich was thick and heavy. The beans in a separate bowl still bubbled and steamed. The coleslaw, also in a separate bowl, was piled thick and high. The fries were plentiful and not greasy. I scooted them into a smaller pile and squeezed a puddle of “House Recipe Fancy Ketchup” beside them. I dipped a couple of small ones and delighted in the texture and homey taste of crinkly fries and off-brand ketchup. I sampled the beans, perfect. Chunks of bell pepper told me that these were not directly from a can. The coleslaw was creamy, with only a hint of sour to compliment the creamy sweetness, delicious. The pork was smoky, tender, falling apart, moist and drizzled precisely with just a little barbecue sauce. I danced from one offering to another, around the plate and back again. About halfway through the bun broke apart and merged with the moist pork, losing its identity as a sandwich completely, I didn’t care. Adam cleaned his plate, we didn’t talk much between bites. We were though, in mutual agreement, our grunts confirmed as much.

While eating, Kim stopped by a couple of times to refill our drinks and to ask if everything was okay. Adam finished before I did because he’s young and doesn’t know how to savor each bite and gorge at the same time as I do. As Kim took his plate she asked if he’s like pie, cream pie, four or five different kinds to choose from. He looked at me I grunted and shrugged my shoulders. He told her he’d think about it.

I stuffed the last bits into my face, sighed, sat back and just enjoyed. “You want pie?” I asked him. “No not really.” He answered in what might have been our longest conversation of the meal.


By the end of our meal a couple of other tables loaded up, one a man merely asking for coffee, Kim offering to make him a fresh pot. The other table an extended family of some sort, local, familiar to the place and to Kim. She stopped by our table and dropped off the ticket placing it upside down near Adam. On the back was a “Thank you!” from Kim, in perfect, pretty cursive writing. The tail of the ‘u’ in ‘you’ joining, without breaking, the tall, looping exclamation point. Nice touch, classy. It made me wish for a moment that I remembered how to write in cursive.

The tea was okay, I had higher hopes though since there was a hand written, bright orange sign exclaiming “Fresh Brewed Tea” behind the counter. A little stronger would have been nice, and Luzianne is always preferable to the other common brands. But hardly anyone gets this right.

Kim herself was pleasant, friendly, efficient and professional despite the fact that she reads romance novels, or as I call the genre, “more unlikely and unbelievable than science fiction” and listens to music that should be more to the tastes of her kids than herself. I did worry about her a bit though, she was wearing a thick ankle pad/brace on one leg. I didn’t notice a limp, but hers is a job that keeps you on your feet a lot… but it could also have been an injury sustained from kicking someone’s ass in a karate fight…. Whatever it is Kim, I hope it gets better.

The bill came to a pleasant twenty-one dollars and change. As we paid, Kim asked if we wanted to tack on a tip. I answered “Run it up to thirty even.” She smiled, thanked me and otherwise did not protest the 40% gratuity.

We will be going back, Kim’s is a fine, down home place with great food and good people. It’s now officially one of my favorite café’s. I’ll rate it four and a half out of five greasy spoons.


* deus ex machine: Latin for "god out of the machine”. Simply, it’s a plot device where something the reader didn’t know about inexplicably pops up and comes to the sudden aid of the protagonist. It’s derived from old Greek theater where the plot twists and turns and then just as it all seems hopeless and doomed, another actor, in the visage of a previously unmentioned god is lowered onto the stage and poof! Problem resolved. It’s very easy and very prevalent in bad science fiction. A device, machine, ability or creature that we were not clued in on just appears or becomes available out of nowhere, just at the right time. A form of this device was used in the J.D. Robb book I read. Hundreds of pages of whining, emoting, lusting and stumbling around looking for clues, EVERYONE is eliminated as a suspect since the murders take place in a highly secure holographic game room. But alas! At the very end it turns out that the game’s projector has been ‘tweaked’ to the point that it can actually project a sword that will lob off a guy’s head in the real world. I saw it coming from about page twenty. Very disappointing. It’s one of the reasons I don’t care for the overwhelming majority of science fiction.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bobby Munzert’s

Highway B and Highway 21
Hillsboro, MO.
The Munzert family has been in the restaurant business in Jefferson County for nearly a thousand years. For many of those years Bobby had a steakhouse at the corner of BB* and 21, right next to the courthouse. This new place just opened the day before we went, we’d found out about it from the local weekly paper.
Regardless of how many eons your family has run restaurants, the first few days of any new one are going to be rough. This is exactly why I wanted to go as soon after opening as possible. The plan was to go, then go again in a couple of months to see if the place improves on its certain discrepancies.
Keep that in mind as you read this, that we fully expected service issues and understand and forgave them completely. I will point them out, but only as a record for later comparison.
The Place:
Not a new construction, there has been something, a bar maybe, at this location up until recently. It’s at the last traffic light heading south out of Hillsboro. We were a bit surprised when we first saw it, we’d never seen that parking lot so full. The place looked crowded, so much so that we decided to consider plan B. So we drove past, discussed plan B and soon realized we didn’t actually have a plan B. So we turned around and went in. Though the lot was crowded there was no one waiting outside. We ducked in and realized that this place was much larger on the inside than on the outside. There were two large, distinct sections, the bar side and the dining side. The bar side had TV’s people laughing, drinking, smoking, the dining side had a couple of middle aged families sitting, waiting and staring at the bar side.
We were seated immediately by the hostess, a young lady that seemed to know where she wanted us, at a table, not a booth.
She handed us menus then disappeared.
The motif was black on rust. Not the bad kind of rust, corrosion, but the color, a dark orange-ish color that actually looked classy trimmed with black tables, chairs, booths and carefully folded black linen napkins at each place setting. The floors were wood laminate, pale oak or pine. The walls above the chair rail were cream colored, hard to tell exactly in the dim light. Several pictures of various sizes, mostly black and white set a theme. Mae West, the Lone Ranger, Marylyn Monroe, 40’s / 50’s stuff. The wait staff was all dressed in black shirts and pants, matching the overall palette. Music hovered slightly over the din, Sinatra, big band, classy, it complimented the photos on the walls. The din was a problem. The smooth walls and floor, high ceilings and lack of drapes made the whole place too ‘soundy.’ It was like sitting in a crowded gymnasium, every sound carried and echoed. A booming voice occasionally emanated from the bar side, I could make out the voice but not actually see the person it belonged to.
The menu was simple, Bobby decided on a classy, minimal approach, which I appreciate. Steaks, Lobster, Shrimp, Chicken and a few burgers and sandwiches. The prices seemed a little uptown, but this apparently wasn’t going to be a ham and beans joint.
We decided rather quickly, but waited quite a while for anyone to notice. The waitress finally came around with a small, generic spiral notebook and jotted down our orders, including drinks, tea, tea and Coke.
The drinks arrived rather slowly, heavy stemmed glasses, tea, but no ice. There were slight hints that there at one time was ice, but there was none in the glasses. Looking around we noticed that the other tables were being served water. We never were. We also had little plates like for bread, but never got that either.
The Food:
I went all out and ordered the 6oz. filet mignon, with baked potato and green beans. Angel asked for the New York Strip, potato and asparagus (yuck). Adam went for the blackened chicken sandwich and steak fries.
This was our last contact with the wait staff for a half hour. We watched them scurry about, several times they stopped and counted aloud to figure out a table number. Trays of food were taken to one table, then another, until the correct table was found. Water was served and refilled except at our table.
At one point a tray-laden waitress stopped at our table and asked “Burger and Tilapia?” No, not ours. We were getting hungry, some bread would have been good. “We should have said yes to the burger and tilapia.” I offered. It did look good. At one point I took the bread plate and held it suspended over the floor, offering to drop it just to get the staff’s attention. Angel shook her head at me. Our tea was gone, Adam’s Coke was nearly so. Nearly twenty five minutes in to the wait our server did stop, probably because I was holding up my empty glass. “Can I have my tea with ice this time?” I asked, not in a scolding way. She smiled and returned promptly with fresh drinks, without taking away the empties.
Several times members of the staff joined up and pointed at tables with confused looks.
Like I said though this was expected.
The food finally arrived and about all I can say about it was that it was very, very good. The steaks were superbly cooked to order, peppered just enough. The potatoes were soft with crunchy skins, the green beans were tender but not too much so. Angel offered to let me taste her asparagus, I hissed and spat at her. She enjoyed her steak, at one point picking up a slightly pink chunk, staring at it on her fork, and quoting a line from her favorite movie said: “I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.”
Yeah she can quote the movie, pretty much the whole thing. To which I responded: “Whoa. Déjà vu.” Watch the movie, it’ll all make sense.
Adam finished his completely which as you know by now means everything was great.
The waitress came by again, eventually, and took away the empty plates and dropped off the bill. It came to sixty dollars and change. What was noticeable was that we weren’t even offered desert even though there was a desert sampler tray a few feet away. We didn’t really want desert, but I’m just saying, we weren’t even offered. From bill drop off to return was about ten minutes. Not as bad as it could have been but still kind of slow.
I’ll repeat myself, the wait problems were fully expected. A new crew in a new restaurant hasn’t had the time to nail down all the timings and organization. I would have been stunned if it had gone any better.
The price was higher than I expected for Hillsboro, but the quality of the meals was better as well. I went in assuming this would be a small town diner affair with greasy fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was not. Bobby is going for a more upscale venue. I hope it works out, I really do.
Yes we will be back, the food was simply great. I do recommend it with certain caveats, that it is still new and there are definite service kinks because of it.

*Lettered highways. This is a Missouri thing. It can often be confusing and infuriating. There is apparently a method behind the madness which is rather poorly explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_supplemental_route
Highway B and Highway BB are near each other, but not the same, nor do they intersect. The double letters usually indicate a lesser road than a single letter. This system has been known to cause problems with 911 dispatch trying to determine an address. This can also make for somewhat embarrassing statements as I once had to when I lived outside Republic ,Mo., “I live near PP and TT.”
Bobby Munzert's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kim’s Café

102 Plaza Sq.

DeSoto, MO.

The Place:

Snuggled amidst the Dollar General, a branch of Bank of America and among other things a Payday Loan store, Kim’s is a bit hard to see from the road, and by road I mean Main Street, Desoto across from the tracks.

DeSoto is historically, and to a lesser degree currently, a railroad town. In 1859 St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad built a depot there along the lines that were constructed to run from the mines in Iron County to St. Louis. Later as the Missouri Pacific Railroad a major car repair facility was established. Currently the rails are still in heavy use by Union Pacific. Early on, DeSoto was the largest town in Jefferson County until the decline of steam-powered railroad use and suburban sprawl in the north eventually overran it.

If you were to have stood in the woods just west of DeSoto back in 1980, there would have been just as many Americans to the east of you as to the west. It was the population center of the U.S. that year.

Main Street and the tracks sit in a valley, the rest of the town, churches, schools and old homes rise up rather dramatically behind the street providing lovely, quaint views both from the valley as well as from the heights.

The shopping center is 70’s or 80’s style generic. Kay’s Café is merely another storefront, though inside it tries to hearken back to freestanding small town café’s and diners of the 40’s and 50’s.

Bright white walls and counter make the place shine, cheapened a little by mixed-make tables, and bright orange booths. At the register was a bulletin board with small business cards and home-made tear-away sheets offering massages, lawn service and yard sales. Colorful gumball and candy machines sat amidst buckets soliciting for donations to Jerry’s kids and other causes.

The place was clean, but cluttered. The kitchen sat behind a wall, only the noises and smells emanating from the back gave it away.

We were allowed to choose our seats, I chose a booth by the window as the tables seemed either too large or too small. Across the room a banquet area was dark and signed “private party”, though there was no party, just empty tables. Above those tables hung a banner that read: “Koyote Kim’s, Best after party in D’ town.” I had no idea what it was referring to.

We were seated and handed our menus by a lady (not Kim). It was simple, we already knew from the paint on the window that breakfast was available all day, it was that kind of place. Angel and Adam had eaten lunch there the day before, but I’d never heard of it. I chose to eat dinner there based on Angel’s mention of one of the dishes that was available.

The Food:

Angel ordered the daily special, a rib eye steak with a baked potato and a salad. Adam jumped at the Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn, because it was also that kind of place. I ordered the slammer. The slammer doesn’t need a side dish, none was even offered.

For those of you from the St. Louis area, you will know this dish by its more popular name, the slinger. The slinger, made famous at O.T. Hodge’s Chili Parlor, or Chili Mac’s as it is also known is well known to me. In the two years I worked downtown Hodges was a very popular lunch stop. The slinger itself has been described many ways, one of them: "a hometown culinary invention that might account for St. Louis' high rate of heart disease.”

The slammer at Kay’s is essentially the same thing. A hamburger patty, hash browns, two eggs any way you want them, all smothered in chili and served with two slices of good old American white bread toast. Yeah, a real slice of culinary heaven. Served properly there is so much chili that the other bits cannot even be seen on the plate. Digging in and around and finding the potatoes, eggs and beef patty is part of the fun.

Back at Hodges’ when the waitress’ asked how you wanted your eggs, it was sort of a joke as they were going to cook them the way they pleased anyhow. So I’d order them deviled, Easter’ed, dinosaur’ed, fertile, free ranged, petrified, upside down, breaded and deep fried, Benedict, flambé, or my all time favorite: ‘still in the chicken’.

No such shenanigans at Kay’s though, I needed to build trust before berating the wait staff.

Our drinks, tea, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi were served up quickly in plastic Pepsi tumblers. The tea was bland and forgettable. Angel got her salad, fresh and large with light toasty croutons which Adam enjoyed as he snitched them from his mother’s bowl.

Our plates arrived, Angel’s steak looked a bit timid, kind of thin. She insisted it wasn’t dry, though it looked to me as if it definitely had that potential. She did dip a slice or two in Adam’s gravy though.

My slammer was generous. The chili, definitely home-made, was not too spicy, and it was chunky with beef and big red kidney beans. Once I located the beef patty, I found it to be a bit crisp on the edges, maybe a bit overdone, but not bad. The eggs had been ordered over medium and were just that. The hash browns were not crispy, but smothered in chili it didn’t really matter. There was no toast. I couldn’t figure out how to eat this thing properly without dipping toast into the chili/egg sauce. As the waitress wandered again by I mentioned this. “Isn’t there supposed to be toast?” I inquired innocently. “Sorry about that, the cook hasn’t figured out all the plates yet.” She answered heading for the kitchen. “Harrumph” I harrumphed.

“She’s new, came in at the last minute.” The waitress called back to me.

“Not my problem ma’am!” I answered loudly. She held up her right hand apparently to show me her heavily and amateur-ly bandaged finger. We had established rapport.

She fetched the toast like a good little waitress and served it with a bowl full of condiment-packaged jellies.

I dived in, sopping up chili with toast, cutting into and mixing around the potatoes and proteins, then started making the requisite grunting noises.

I didn’t quite finish it even though I was quite famished when I started. I knew better than to try to cram too much in, since it’s not as healthy a meal as you might think and it tends to sit rather heavy for quite a while.

Angel and Adam finished ahead of me though, quite pleased with their meals. When the waitress came around and gathered their plates she asked if we needed anything else. “Heavens no!” I responded.

“You’re not even going to let me offer you some cream pie?” She shot back.

“Certainly not!” I answered harshly, lapping down a little more chili-sopped toast.

“She was just offering dessert.” Angel scolded me.

“Technically she was offering to offer us some cream pie” I slammed back. “Besides, I’ve already got dessert.” I answered scooping some strawberry preserves on my last toast wedge. “Did you want dessert?” I asked her.

“No.” She answered. Adam broke into fake tears. “Mom, dad, STOP FIGHTING!”

He does this because he’s never actually seen us really fight and doesn’t know what it actually looks like. It’s not that we don’t want to fight, or occasionally have reason to, we just stopped bothering a decade or so ago.

We would have just sat there for a while but someone had brought in a baby and it was doing what all screaming babies do, getting on my nerves.


I’m going to say something quite startling later, so brace yourself. First off, the food was all quite good. The selection was small-town diner-ish, the wait staff was friendly and quaintly rude when pressed into a corner. I like that.

There were a couple of flies hanging around, we could have done without those, but overall the place was clean, bright and efficient. The price came in at thirty one dollars, not bad considering we’d spent that much the week before at that disgusting Fazoli’s fast food joint. I asked Angel about her steak again, and she qualified her endorsement. “For the price it was a good steak.”

Now for the startling bit. I enjoyed the slammer more than I enjoy Hodge’s Slingers.

(Waiting for shock and horror to subside). That’s right folks, Kim’s Slammer is more enjoyable than the famous slinger. The reason? The chili. Hodge’s chili always seemed a bit bland to me, not bad, just lacking in oomph. Kim’s had big beans, seasoned meat and savory stock, unlike the canned-like texture and taste of Hodge’s.

There I said it.

Kim’s is homey, comfortable and affordable. It’s hardly the place that would impress a high maintenance girlfriend, but for a good, solid, home-style meal it’s very good. I’ll give it a ninety.