Tuesday, July 10, 2012

IHOP


Gravois Bluffs
Fenton, Mo.
www.ihop.com


This was supposed to be a review/revisit of the Olive Garden. We went straight there, found a full parking lot and a line forming outside. We took a step into the entrance, looked at the packed crowd there, and Angel and I agreed immediately to abandon the effort.
Lucky for us there are nearly a dozen eateries in sight of this OG. It was simply too steamy hot to wait twenty to thirty minutes for Olive Garden. That’s like standing in line for a ten percent-off coupon for a can of generic peaches; it’s just not worth it. My previous reviews for the OG have been tepid at best. There's several places worth waiting for, Olive Garden simply isn't among them.
The problem with IHOP is that it extremely hard to review.  A good review includes criticism, friction, or simply lousy food or service. I’ve been to a few IHOP’s in my years, and I’ve never really found any of that.
The Place:
What can I tell you, it's an IHOP. You see them everywhere. Bigger than Waffle Houses but containing that same dreamy bacon-y, syrup-y, coffee aroma.
We were shown to our booth and waited on by a young lady that I have determined to be perhaps the best waitress in the world, ever. Youthful, upbeat, smart, dutiful, funny, Jessica. She handed us a pile of glossy, colorful menus. She took our drink orders, tea, sweet tea, and for Adam, an iced mocha. I didn't even know he liked mocha.
The Food:
If I have one complaint about IHOP, it’s the menu. They're pretty and spill-proof, but it contains too much. We sent poor Jessica away three times, replying to her that yes indeed, we still needed a few more minutes to choose.
Appetizer Sampler
She took it in stride, even refilling Adam’s mocha once before we’d made up our minds. There was too much to choose from and it all looked very good. Deciding on one thing meant forgoing the rest. The upside being that we’d more than likely not be disappointed.
I decided on a breakfast plate, coincidentally called a ‘Split Decision Combo’. Two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, two pancakes and two slices of French toast.
Angel ordered the bacon-wrapped sirloin steak and eggs,
Adam picked the hash brown-battered chicken with biscuits and two eggs.
Angel ordered the appetizer sampler, onion rings, chicken strips and mozzarella sticks.
Split Decision
I also asked for a pot of coffee. The tea was completely tasteless and breakfast was coming soon.
Jessica was quick with the thermos and a cup, happily reporting that our appetizer was on the way.
Quickly enough, it was. Knowing I had a pretty full meal ahead of me I just had an onion ring or two. Adam scooped up a stringy cheese stick, pulling the gooey cheese to arm’s length.
Bacon Wrapped Sirloin
The coffee was fresh and good, not too weak. Within a few more minutes our plates arrived.
About the food, I can only say this. It was near perfect. Properly prepared, as ordered, not too much or too little of anything.
Hash brown crusted chicken
That’s the benefit of IHOP’s menu, there’s nothing bold or complicated. No fussy sauces or fickle proteins or produce. These are basic, simple dishes, no grand recipes. About the only spices in their rack are salt and pepper. It’s not hard to make a nice breakfast plate, you only need to learn how to do it right, then repeat. Overcook the bacon or an egg? It’s instantly recognizable and easily corrected.The french toast was a bit on the sweet side having been dusted with powdered sugar, but that's just a preference some people have. I prefer mine un-sweetened, no syrup, the same as my pancakes. IHOP lives up to their name when it comes to pancakes, light, fluffy, perfectly browned.
Summary:
The only less than positive comment was from Angel, the bacon had completely infused the small, slightly overcooked  sirloins with bacon flavor, and after a bit that was a little strong.
That’s it, the only negative comment.
The bill came to a reasonable $43 and change, I tipped as much as I could with the cash in my pocket. Jessica was a pleasure as a server, friendly, bright, funny, patient and courteous. The place was clean, roomy, and comfortable. The food was, for the most part, exactly what we expected, wanted, and we left fully satisfied, with a takeout box of mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers.
Going that extra mile. Thanks Jessica!




IHOP on Urbanspoon

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