Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jack in the Box

899 Veterans Boulevard
Festus, MO

Note to new readers:  This review contains occasional vague references to previous articles.  It also contains rambling personal tangents that have little or nothing to do with the restaurant itself, but are part of a sporadic thread of background trivia. If you'd like to get yourself up to speed to enhance your reading experience please do so, all previous reviews are available in the left hand column of this page.

The unrelenting heat wave continued. I’d spent most of the day puppy-sitting at home while Angel made a trip to PetSmart to pimp some mutts for CARE (http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/MO337.html ). She took one of the dogs we’d been fostering for several months with her. We really like Eva, a small, sweet whippet–thin, cinnamon hued, boxer/mountain cur mix, but she really does deserve her own family. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/19660406

  Angel fetched Eva from a rescue in Independence Mo. since she looked just like our own Deedee, and a little like Blue. Angel finds and goes after dogs with this general appearance whenever she can. One, a big boy named Rocko came from as far away as West Memphis Arkansas. Rescue operations trade dogs fairly often, there’s so many kenneled dogs that finding another rescue that has luck with certain types of dogs is almost as good as finding it a home.
We had several boarders in, so it was a little more work than our own five dogs take. One, a very young yellow lab named Tucker  needed to be let outside several times to avoid inevitable mishaps. I did sneak in an early HBA trip to Wally-world, but that and  dog-duty was about the extent of my day, until Adam got up. I took that opportunity to take a much-wanted and richly undeserved nap.
     It was Angel’s turn to choose the eatery, she mentioned that we hadn’t been to Jack’s in a while. I liked it the last time so I agreed. The heat makes original thinking and deciding very tough for me, so I was game for just about anything. I wasn’t all that hungry anyhow. Chili for breakfast, general lethargy throughout the day, along with the oppressive heat made me pretty much meal-ambivalent.

The Place:
Atop the hill overlooking the interstate, next to Taco Bell, Fazoli’s and a half dozen other fast-food boxes. The place was nearly empty, none of the joints on the hill were really rocking. Angel had mentioned on the way that Jack served breakfast 24/7. That seemed appropriate since my nap had been long and very heavy. I like Jack’s burgers, but once again, for you the fans, I decided to try something different.
I scanned the various breakfast offerings, not really a big variety, sandwiches, wraps, etc. I finally settled on the ‘Ultimate Sausage Combo’ only because it didn’t have ham. I usually like ham, but my delicate, yet handsome chili-laced tummy seemed to jerk away from the very notion of it this evening, I don’t know why.
There was no tea. I’d had a soda/pop/coke earlier in the day and didn’t really want another, but the only other option was lemonade, usually too-sweet, so I got a Coke anyhow.
Angel placed her order, Adam his, and we filled our drink cups and found a table in the back corner.
A broom and dust pan leaned against one of the empty tables, no person attached. It would have been nice if there had been as the floor was littered up noticeably more than it needed to be. A couple of the tables could have used some attention as well, but weren’t getting any either. The only other customers were a young couple with a small child. The child, true to its own nature was refusing to eat its meal. “Finish your meat so we can go home.” The mommy kept calmly coaxing the sticky little imp. That went on for at least fifteen minutes, though it seemed much longer. I don’t really care for small children, their doting young parents even less.
I asked Angel what she ordered, she told me, adding that she thought she was going to get a chicken sandwich until she saw the giant poster depicting one. “It just didn’t look very good, too processed-looking.” I didn't see the picture, but understood the issue. Chicken on a sandwich should look at least a little like actual chicken, not like a large McNugget.

The Food:
Angel had ordered the Sirloin Swiss burger, Adam, the Spicy Chicken. They each also got two tacos, which they love and I detest. Their orders were sided by curly fries, my breakfast sandwich with hash browns. The young lady that delivered the food tray asked if we needed any sauces.
“Do you have any sauerkraut?”I innocently asked.*
The table roared, the girl grinned, obviously confused, but came back professionally. “No, I’m afraid not.” She answered, faking amusement at the inside joke.
I dumped out my six or eight flat hash brown bites, essentially two-inch-long, flat tator-tots. They seemed kind of dark and felt heavy. I unwrapped the sandwich and was a little disappointed. The sausage, egg and cheese were on a standard hamburger bun. The sausage was flattened to fit the bun all the way to the rim, so it looked and felt like a cheeseburger. This made the first couple of bites a bit odd. It looked like a burger, felt like a burger so the initial taste was somewhat confusing to my taste buds' primal instincts. There was nothing really bad about it, but I usually take my sausage sandwiches on biscuits. The hash browns were indeed as I’d feared, heavy, too greasy, so I didn’t finish them. Angel kindly shared her ample curly fries. My meal was not especially satisfying though I can’t blame it completely on the meal itself. I was still struggling with occasional aftershocks from the breakfast chili, I was uncomfortable in the heat and I was sipping a too-sweet, bubbly Coke. I quit drinking pop/soda/cokes with meals a long time ago due to the fact that they overpower a meal in sweetness and bloating factor.
Angel and Adam didn’t have any problems though. They tore through their tacos and sandwiches like pros.
As objectively as I can though I will say that Jack’s breakfast offering was on its own merit, in every way inferior to Hardee’s. Hardees has real, home-made-like, biscuit-sized biscuits and sausage-sized sausage. That combination just seems right to this southern-bred eye and tongue. Their tator-rounds (thin tots) are to die for. If I want a fast-food breakfast sandwich, Hardees is my first choice. Now that I’ve tried it, I’d say Jack in the Box is like twenty fifth, or ninetieth, wherever the bottom might be.
Don’t take this one lousy review as a total condemnation of the place. Their burgers are quite good. Angel and Adam tell me those disgusting, meat-pasty tacos are great and the atmosphere/sanitation is usually better than the more popular chains. On this day though, this particular store was not at its best. Too much litter on the floor, too many tables left un-cleaned, even though there was no rush going on, quite the opposite in fact. Clean your floors and tables folks, is that too much to ask?

* This is one of those references to previous reviews I mentioned in slanty print above. This particular one goes back to June, 2011, titled 'Kim's Cafe V'.

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