Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hardees

10610 Highway 21
(Main Street)
Hillsboro, Mo.
http://www.hardees.com/

This choice led to a heated discussion. While true that we had never reviewed Hardee's, any Hardee's, this was seen by some in the family as a cop-out. Not because we don't like the chain, but because we do.
Since we moved to Hillsboro we, or at least I, have been there lots of times. It is the closest fast food chain to our house, right at the corner of 21 and BB. It's terribly convenient. PLUS they have a great breakfast selection and serve some pretty decent coffee.
It's not unusual for me to stop in once or twice per month on my way to a meeting or other errands  and ask for a 'number three with coffee', a sausage biscuit with tater rounds.
If I have time I'll take my book in with me, find a spot away from the overhead TV's and enjoy a few minutes of gastronomic and literary joy.
I assured Angel that it wasn't a cop-out at all, that even though we may already have a bias, that we were professionals and could be expected to remain completely objective.
The Place:
Like I said, very, very convenient less than ten minutes from my driveway. It's a busy intersection sitting right above the various county government offices and courthouse. It looks like every other Hardee's in the country. The St. Louis based CKE corporation (it also owns Carl's Jr.) boasts a couple of thousand of Hardee's locations in 42 states, with it's niche being locations in areas and towns too small to support other chains. It's kind of fast-food plastic-y inside, but no more so than the others.
The Food:
Getting the family to decide what to order was a painful process. Due to a fast-moving and rather significant thunderstorm we were without internet service for a few minutes, so we had to rely on memory as to what they had. We would be eating at home, I was for the second week in a row going to be the fetcher. I knew what I wanted, I'd been salivating about it for a few days.
Angel didn't want a burger and fries, Adam couldn't recall what different burgers they had. "Something with bacon." Is about all I had to go on for the boy.
From Angel: "Chicken tenders, but as I recall they don't put many in an order, so two orders if they seem small."
I did get them to agree unanimously on curly fries, if such a thing did exist.
Chicken Tenders
"And a sweet tea, no ice." Angel added. I started writing it all down at this point.
It was still raining a little as I left, though the clouds were breaking up and the sun was peeking through brightly, low in the west. By the time I got to the Dollar General for my first stop, the wipers were no longer required. I picked up a 2-liter Pepsi and a few other small items and within minutes was looping back to Hardee's. I went in and found it all but empty. The place is pretty busy on Saturday mornings, but I wasn't sure how well it fared during the early evening, this might be normal, but I also thought maybe most other people were making plans for St. Patrick's day, a Holiday that we traditionally don't give any notice to. Not that we have issues with the Irish in particular, it's more a practical thing. We barely celebrate the big holidays, so in our home St. Pat's is relegated to the same yawn-status as  Guy Fawkes Day (Nov 5), Maritime day (May 5), Paul Bunyan Day (Jun 28), and even Amelia Earhart Day (Jan 11).
Sorry if this offends, but we just don't have enough 'celebrate' in us to cover them all sufficiently.
I stepped up to the counter and was immediately asked for my order from a headphone-clad young lady. I asked about curly fries and was told that they indeed served them. I read off the rest of the order, all ala-carte, no combos. Two medium drinks, three curly fries, a Frisco thick burger (mine) a 1/3 lb. cheeseburger (no tomatoes or onions) for Adam. The chicken tenders were available in sets of three or five. I had to ponder this for a minute, was three too few or was five too few? I asked for two three's only eventually realizing that one five was just one less tender than the total I was getting, but whatever, I was in no mood for complex math. Then the girl/lady/chick asked me about dipping sauces, I didn't have a clue and apparently it registered on my facial expression. "I'll drop in one of each." She said. A real pro, I respect that.
She handed me a card with a number on it as well as two medium cups. I filled them at the drink line, one with  sweet tea and the other with unsweetened tea, no ice. Why pay for ice if you're dining at home?
1/3 lb Cheeseburger
A couple of other people came in and ordered while I was waiting. The drive up window was also creating some activity. I could have gone through thee drive up, but out of force of habit it didn't occur to me that that was actually an option. My old car had defective windows, a feature of 2000 Olds Aleros, puny, fragile window motors. So for a couple of years I was unable to avail myself to drive-through windows of any kind. I've only been through a drive through a couple of times since I replaced the car, it just rarely occurs to me that I can.
As I waited I decided to look around the dining area. A few weeks ago I'd noticed that at Jack-in-the Box, the table and floors where littered with crumbs and wrappers. Not here though, the tables had been cleaned and the floor swept and mopped. Kudos.
This Hardee's is not the fastest of fast-food joints. They don't keep a pile of pre-made burgers and fries under a heat lamp. I don't see that as a negative. Hillsboro is not a town where 'hurry' is such a high priority anyhow. Being the county seat things tend move at a slower pace then they do in more cosmopolitan/metropolitan areas such as DeSoto and Festus.
I went ahead and took the two teas out to the car so I wouldn't have to carry them and the bags of food all at the same time. I did wish I had my book on me.
Frisco Thickburger
It was probably only five to ten minutes, which at any other restaurant would not seem like a long time, so all things being relative, the wait was expected, normal and not so bad.
Finally they called me over and handed me the big bag.
Once home, I set it all out, primarily to see if I'd received everything I ordered. This is an issue at all fast food places, in fact this Hardee's a few years ago was a known sinner. It's been a long time  since I recall being short-sheeted there though. They got it all right this time.
I did my photo-session thing again as Adam stood impatiently behind me.
As is our custom, I sat down at the dining room table and cracked open my book, Angel and Adam stretched out in the living room watching cartoons or something. Don't judge us, it's just how we roll. During the week they eat earlier than me to fit in with the dog/school schedule and I eat when I get home, alone, using the time to relax a little. We run a business out of the house, Angel is very busy most days, especially in the spring. She has to fit things around a pretty strict schedule that the living breathing, panting clients require. She stays busy until last pee (theirs, not hers), around nine P.M. That's when we get together and catch each other up on the day.
Summary:
I've said this before, Hardee's has toppled Burger King* as my favorite of the top five fast-food burger franchises. The Frisco burger is always good, the sourdough bread makes it just that much better. The fries, this time curly, were done pretty well. We all finished up, Angel only left a nugget or two which she would surely get to later.
There was simply nothing bad to say. Unlike Burger King which had several shoulder shrugs and screwed up faces, this food, for fast food, was pretty darn tasty. The tea, not so much.
The tab came to a reasonable twenty five dollars and change, about typical for fast food.
Bottom line, this was about as good as fast food burgers get. My number one of the big five.

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In related news, Wendy's has toppled Burger King for the number two spot in sales behind McDonalds for fast food hamburgers. I told you things were declining at the King!


Hardee's on Urbanspoon

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