De Soto, MO
Just inside the DeSoto city limits on Highway 21. Though technically, legally, it is inside the city limits, it appears that those limits are very liberal. You can’t even see downtown from this location.
It’s a locally owned and operated Midwestern-style restaurant that seems to be doing a pretty good business. We’ve eaten there before, of course, but not often. Inside is a sea/river theme, all things nautical, oars, life preservers, deep sea diving helmet, fishing rods, etc. adorn the walls and overheads. The center of the floor holds a large aquarium with large fresh water fish.
The tables are unique. Standard wood tables covered with local ads permanently laminated under a thick coat of polyurethane varnish. Along with the ads are twenty or so trivia questions, the answers scattered around the ads. We tried a few of them and found them to be either fairly simple or uninteresting. I suggested that they should be more challenging and thought provoking, like this:
Adam and Angel looked at me like I was from Mars. I explained the answer to them. Adam responded: “I didn’t ask who it was, I just wanted to know how you possibly know that, what were you actually researching when you came across that?” I couldn’t recall, it was one of those things where I was reading about something, went on a tangent, then another, then voila, the story of America’s only known lesbian First Lady. I pretty much found out the same way that I found out that you cannot drive to South America from Central America because of the Darién Gap. It’s just something I came across and struggle to forget
We scanned the menus, the trouble with this place is that there’s lots of good stuff to choose from. I’d had a mid-day snack and was not famished so I looked for something lighter than a steak or hamburger. Angel came across an entry on the salad page that seemed to fit the bill. Shrimp Scampi and salad. We both decided to order it. Adam asked for the BBQ Chicken tender sandwich with home-chips.
The shrimp, ten of them would be served in a creamy garlic sauce, with a baked potato, garlic bread and house salad on the side, we both opted for the poppy seed dressing. Yeah a salad with a baked potato and bread on the side along with buttery cream sauce on the shrimp. It rendered all of the nutritional benefits of the salad completely moot. Along with the meals we ordered our drinks, tea, sweet tea and Pepsi, as well as two proven appetizers, crab rangoons and corn poppers.
We simply cannot eat at ‘Off the Hook’ without getting the corn nuggets. Wads of deep fried breaded corn. The rangoons are always a treat as well, a little sweet.
As we waited I scanned the room and observed that all three waitresses working the floor were near-clones. The uniform was black jeans and a titular black tee shirt, but the thing that struck me was that all three were similarly built and all had their shoulder length hair pulled back into a pony tail. I did not know if that was mandate or coincidence, but it reminded me of the generic women that used to pretend to play instruments and sway behind Robert Palmer in the 1986 video ‘Addicted to Love’, dressed exactly the same with the same hair and the same distant, detached look on their faces.
The appetizers and drinks were served, and as expected the tea was fresh, but unremarkable, but the poppers and rangoons were splendid. Other places serve corn poppers, but these are the best we’ve found anywhere.
The food came soon, sort of. The lady proudly laid down the plates, oblong ramekins filled with a creamy, soupy broth with the shrimp barely visible. On a separate plate a foil wrapped medium sized potato, a squeeze tube of sour cream. Another small plate held the toast.
“Will there be anything else?” She asked. Angel and I looked at each other as if someone had just performed a poorly timed bodily function. “Excuse me ma’am, but I think there was supposed to be a salad with this?”
She looked down at the ticket, scratched her head and sped off, returning shortly and apologizing.
“It was from the salad page.” Angel whispered to me.
“I know, it does go to confirm my suspicion that the salad in this meal was a facade, pretending to be the center of the dish. People don’t come to places like this to get salad.” I pointed my head to the other patrons, nearly all of them stereotypically pear shaped.
The salad itself was simple and fresh. Greens, red onion, tomato and some shredded carrot. The dressing, sweet and thin, made it a delight, even if the toss of the salad had not been thorough. The carrot shreds were all grouped together near the bottom left hand side of the bowl, the tomato chinks on top on the other side. I had to cut through the onion, which I don’t care for since salad bowls and a soft bed of greens makes chopping onions clumsy.
But it was fresh and the dressing was bright and smooth.
We prepped our potatoes, Angel left the foil on hers, I stripped mine, commando-style. There was just enough sour cream in the packet to make it worth it. The garlic toast was crisp. The shrimp, once rescued from the murky depths of the cream sauce, was exceptional. Actually the shrimp was shrimp, it was the sauce itself that was so good. Thick, almost like a cream soup or maybe a chowder, buttery and lightly garlic-y. The ten medium shrimp had to be hunted in the bowl, there was enough sauce to dip the toast and also to dab onto the potato. The taste and texture were perfect.
Adam seemed to like his sandwich, but the chicken was chopped, cubed rather than whole. The home chips were of course excellent. He did say that the ketchup tasted cheap. Angel recently started getting name-brand ketchup at home and we’d become spoiled. Yes there is a difference.
Angel said she liked the meal because it was unexpected. She’d assumed that we’d get catfish or chicken fried steak, but that this was a refreshing bit of variety. “I thought it would be light, it was in the salad section of the menu.” She said. “But that was not light.”
This place is simply put, great. It’s a little like a Cracker Barrel, but better. The price is very reasonable, our bill came in at forty three dollars, that included two appetizers and more food than we could eat. Some of their offerings have been a little less than perfect, but unlike other places, the word ‘disgusting’ just does not apply.
* First Lady: If you really must know it was Rose Cleveland, Grover's sister. For the first two years (1885-1886) of his first term he was a bachelor and Rose was given the title and official duties. Once the President married young Francis Folsom (at 21 the U.S.'s youngest first lady, Grover was 49.) Rose skipped town and eventually moved back in with her long-time 'friend' Evangeline Simpson Whipple. The two exchanged many very graphic romantic letters during their time apart and lived together until Evangeline's death in 1918.
You might recall that a couple of weeks ago I was rather severe toward the meatloaf served at Bob Evans. Besides mentioning it in this blog review I also sent a terse ‘contact us’ email to the company. On Saturday I received, via snail mail, a letter from the company apologizing for my disappointment and saying they would send the matter to their quality assurance department. They also included ten dollars in meal discount coupons. I mentioned this on Facebook, and Angel replied saying “Great, bad food = more bad food.” We have yet to decide whether or not to redeem the coupons.