Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Waffle House

Festus Mo.

None of us felt like making bold decisions, I made a casual suggestion on Thursday or Friday, based on a momentary craving. I wanted a pancake. Angel reminded us that she was out of town the week Adam and I visited the Waffle House, so it was set.

Spoiler alert! You can’t get pancakes at Waffle House.

Not that it really mattered. Breakfast fare is good in most of its forms, waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, hash browns, it’s all good.

The place was not very busy, a couple of small groups along the wall, the counter was empty. I counted two ladies on duty.

The Place:

Skinny, booths and bar stools, diner style, seat yourself.

We did, in a corner booth. There were laminated double sided menus/placemats already there; colorful, shiny, and loaded with scrumptious offerings. One of the ladies asked for our drink orders, tea, tea and coke. She gave us some more time. I couldn’t decide so I decided to order everything.

The all-Star Special.

Two eggs, hash browns ‘smothered and covered’ (onions and cheese), three slices of bacon, two biscuits with gravy, and toast. Yeah, that’s a lot of food.

Adam ordered the same, with variations. He opted for the waffle instead of biscuits, and he certainly didn’t want any onions in his hash browns.

Angel went off the rails asking for the pork chops and eggs and hash browns smothered in… you guessed it, gravy.

Our drinks were delivered, the tea was so puny and weak that it tasted only like the plastic tumbler it was served in. When the lady came by again I switched to coffee.

As we waited I looked outside and saw a ’63 mustang, in need of paint, back in to a parking spot. With no respect for the majesty of that vehicle whatsoever, the driver curbed the tires, a crime in anyone’s book. Though it still sported a fading, and delaminating original red paint job, I did notice that the car had all it’s original chrome bits and badges. Window and windshield trim, headlight rims, it was all still there. When the driver stepped up and out of the little national landmark I was not surprised to see a man well into his fifties, sporting a gray ponytail.

When he came in he strolled right past us and sat at the back corner spot of the counter, spun around and stuck up a conversation with two teenaged girls. So predictable, so trite. The girls soon left, but that didn’t seem to upset the man much, he probably gets shut down like that a lot. I know I do. Hmm, pony tails… maybe… Nah.

The Food:

The food was served somewhat haphazardly, my biscuits and gravy arriving first and only a few moments later the rest of the stuff. It all took up three plates, for some reason the bacon got it’s own.. kind of wasteful and inefficient. I slid the slices on top of the eggs and hash browns and set the superfluous plate aside, as did Adam.

The biscuits were heavy, almost two heavy, the rest of the stuff was simply awesome. One thing about the waffle house, you better order your eggs EXACTLY like you want them, because that’s what they will deliver, every time. When I make them for myself they’re sometimes over easy, sometimes medium. At WH if you say over medium, you will get just that.

There was so much food I knew there would be orphans, so I backed off on the biscuits, good though they were and promoted the crispy, perfectly cooked hash browns and perfect eggs to the top. I mixed it all together, sopped up the yolk with the perfectly cooked and sliced toast, and simply enjoyed.

Adam’s waffle was coated with maple syrup, which immediately made me think we weren’t actually related. (see previous posts about my hatred and sheer disdain for maple syrup) There was syrup standing in every square of the brown, cakey waffle. It reminded me of those aerial photos of flood ravaged farm fields and rice patties in Japan.*

Angel struggled to daintily cut up her pork chops. Not that they were all that tough, it’s just that the butter knife that was provided was a bit too dull to actually cut through any thing more dense than warm butter. She finally gave up trying to be Miss Manners about it and went all hillbilly on the chops. She didn’t even stick out her pinky as she gnawed every morsel off the bones.

Summary:

The food was simply exceptional. If you are in the mood for breakfast fare, this is about as good as it gets. The tab came in at thirty six bucks and change, but recall Adam and I ordered about the most expensive plate they offer. Next time I’ll probably go ala-carte and back down a bit. The place was clean and well tended, although you should be warned, WH is one of the rare places that still allows smoking, so there is that smell if you are sensitive about that sort of thing. But of course, if you’re all that worried about goes in to your own personal temple, you should really take another look at the menu… it’s not exactly health food. Though my grandmother ate breakfast like this every day, for eighty-something years, eggs and milk fresh and warm out of her own animals, cooked up in an ancient and never-washed cast iron skillet thick with bacon grease. What do them scientists know anyhow… Bon Appetit!

* Japan:

Back in the early 80’s I served a three year tour at Misawa AB in northeastern Japan. I am very familiar with the area that was devastated recently. Sendai (near the epicenter) is about a two hour train ride from Misawa. Northern Honshu (the main island) is more rural than the south, though hardly sparsely populated. This area was known throughout feudal times as horse country and some of the finest stock came from Tohuku, treasured and desired by samurai throughout the country.

Though most of the businesses in the area are of recent and quake-resistant construction, many of the farm homes and shops are still rather flimsy. This is a very beautiful region of that country, volcanic mountains, the ocean, the thick, lush trees are simply breathtaking. The people there are the best. Polite to a fault, hard working, family-centered and quietly proud. Our hearts go out to these fine people and especially to those stricken directly or indirectly by the series of immense and almost unbelievable forms of destruction.

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