Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Waffle House

1304 Veterans Blvd
Festus Mo.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Waffle House is one of the top four corporations, along with Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Lowe's, for disaster response. “The ability of a Waffle House to remain open after a severe storm, possibly with a limited menu, is used by FEMA as a measure of disaster recovery known as the Waffle House Index.” (Wall Street Journal)

The Place:
 Over 1600 locations, almost all of them, from what I can tell, on interstate on-ramps. Waffle House is, in the south, as common as ticks on a seasoned coonhound. (For you urbanites out there, this merely means quite common.)
This much is predictable, what you get in any Waffle House in the U.S. will be just as good as the last time. The menu is simple though not limited to just breakfast fare, and the entire meal prep takes place right in front of you.
Small, efficient, friendly, one could say intimate and cozy. A bar with stools or the few small booths, you’re part of the whole affair form the moment you walk in. It smells like breakfast; syrup, bacon, sausage, coffee.
Some of the stores have toyed with taking special party reservations, setting up candles, etc. I don’t need that.
My precious princess daughter, Leslye, worked at a WH in Springfield Mo. her senior year in high school. I really enjoyed those nights that she needed me to pick her up from work. I’d get there early and enjoy letting her wait on me, pouring me coffee, bringing me some bacon… After she left WH she got a job at the new Hooters. I never stopped in while she was working there, that just seemed… awkward.
When Angel asked her about working at Hooters, Les replied: “It’s nice to finally work at a place that appreciates big-breasted women.” She was young and perhaps a little na├»ve at the time. She made a ton in tips though. A valuable life lesson to be sure.

The Food:
While WH serves sandwiches and steaks, we go there for ‘brinner’ (breakfast for dinner). The waitress warned us that the chef had a light touch tonight, that if you ordered an 'over-easy’ egg that it might resemble ‘raw’.
Angel wanted gravy so she found some stuff that fit nicely under a generous coating of it, two eggs, over medium, hash browns with diced onions, tomato and gravy served with toast. I picked a sausage-egg biscuit, hash browns with diced onions and gravy. Adam went all out. A waffle, two eggs (scrambled) with a side of bacon and toast
They chose Coke products, I had nowhere to be the next day, so I ordered coffee.
 The wait wasn't long, the food arrived, Adam's three plates first, then Angel's then mine. Adam and Angel were given small tubs of jelly for their toast. Adam received grape, Angel, mixed fruit. They had not been offered a preference. This caused a discussion later about whether it was a random, grab-bag deal with the waitress, or, as I suggested the work of a highly trained and specialized, perhaps snobbish and unseen jelly 'sommelier'.
(In a snobbish French accent) For the madame, as there is an emphasis on the white sauce on her entree, I'd normally suggest something red, strawberry perhaps, but noting that her choice of beverage was a diet soda, I immediately modified the selection to account for a uniquely discerning palette. Thus 'mixed fruit', an earthy, subtly balanced blend of the fine fruits from the chilly northeast, is the only possible option.
As for the lad, no white sauce, plain waffle with a heavy application of sickly sweet maple syrup... grape is called for. It's actually not very good but he won't be able to taste it anyhow. He'll like it because it's purple.
Hash browns 'lightly covered' in gravy.
With sausage/egg biscuit.
Not pictured: Extra dose of Lipitor.
My biscuit was large and fluffy. On it sat a standard sausage patty and a full fried egg. The hash browns, lightly covered in gravy were golden brown and crunchy. The gravy was peppery, but not overpowering. The plate also contained a condiment pack of mayo. Why? I don''t know, maybe they thought I looked Canadian. It might as well have been plumber's putty as far as I was concerned.
There was little discussion as the meals disappeared, and they all thoroughly disappeared. The plates so completely  sopped up for every last hint of gravy and egg yolk that even a seasoned CSI with a crate full of fresh swabs and a gallon of luminol wouldn't be able to lift any evidence off those dishes.
The waitress leaned over the counter and removed each plate as it was emptied, mine being the last.
Once it was finished I relaxed with my refreshed coffee and observed one of the overhead signs. It suggested pie. I was pleased. 
We asked the lady about what was available, she had to think about it. "Chocolate and pecan I think."
My pleasure dissipated immediately.
"Aren't you going to have some pie?" Adam asked as I fumbled for my billfold.
"They don't have any pie." I answered angrily.
"Yes they do, chocolate and pecan." He replied ignorantly.
"Your father only recognizes one kind of pie." Angel scolded the boy.
"Oh yeah, apple, cold, no ice cream." He recalled. "But dad, there are other kinds of pie." He tried.
I grabbed the tab and headed for the register.
 The bill came to $24.36. That's roughly eight bucks a head. That's also close to the amount we spent on that inedible slop that White Castle served us a couple of weeks back. That same twenty dollars and change that was exorbitant at the tiny burger place, was a true bargain at Waffle House. There was nothing that was not good here. Not that it was fancy or unique, it was just plainly and simply, good. Were it not for the inexplicable pie problem, it would have been perfect. Pleasant atmosphere, clean tables, expertly made food, bargain prices.
I tipped well and we took our leave. We stopped at Walmart since we were in town. I bought an apple pie, took it home and stuck it in the refrigerator. Was that so hard?

Waffle House on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment