Monday, May 6, 2013

Huddle House

13002 Highway 21
DeSoto, Mo.

All alone.
Angel and Adam were in Springfield for the weekend tending to some familial obligations.Her entire clan, parents, aunts and her other two adult kids live there with their families. I allow her to take these trips occasionally.
But this left me with a quandary, what's for dinner?
I can cook, and I often do. I'm no chef but i can get it done quite well. I needed to get away though, out of the house for a spell. I've been taking care of six dogs while they've been gone, six dogs that don't always get along. They have to be sorted and fed and let out and back in on a pretty tight rotating schedule. I love my five dogs and even the little bat-eared dynamo of a foster, Rudy. They can be  a lot of work though, especially when it is wet and muddy out.
So I decided to step out for Saturday dinner, just like we do every weekend.
I didn't want a burger, no reason really, I just didn't want a burger. So I made up my mind.
The Place:
I know we were just there a few weeks ago, I usually don't review the same place in such a tight turnaround unless something serious has changed. I went prepared but didn't expect to be reviewing it. If I'd kept with my standard order for places like this I probably wouldn't have felt obligated. It's hard for these places to do a bad job on sausage, bacon, eggs, waffles and hash browns.
The place was busy, not full, still clean and aromatic. I was greeted by the staff and told to find a seat anywhere. I squeezed into a lonely-guy spot near the register and kitchen entrance. I sorted through the stack of large, brightly colored menu cards. The young lady came by and I asked for coffee. I had planned that step ahead of time.
She brought it back and I gave my order, I don't know why I strayed, but it didn't look like that big of a leap. I then sipped on my excellent coffee and cracked open my book.
When I dine alone, like for lunch and dinner Sunday through Friday, I read a book. I can  go through a novel and a half per week this way. I order used books four or five at a time to feed this particular appetite.
What I wanted
The Food:
I'd ordered a Sausage Scramble. Notice the picture of it on their menu. Looks pretty good eh? I thought so. Scrambled eggs with crumbled sausage topped with gravy, with a side of toast is how the menu described it. So I ordered it. I read my book, sipped my coffee, tuned out the rest of the universe for a few minutes. Until my plates arrived.
What I saw made me immediately change my plans about not reviewing the meal. Houston, we have a problem.
I just about barfed, which is my natural reaction when I see barf, and this plate looked exactly like barf, dog barf to be specific. It happens a lot, a dog eats his kibble too fast, goes outside and runs around then heaves and heaves and hacks up his lunch, which if he's  a good dog, he will lap the puke right back up. It's disgusting to be sure, but not for a dog. Dogs are born without a human-level dignity gene. Food is food, plating and eye appeal doesn't account for much. Dog barf has a specific look. The kibble is still clearly identifiable since it has only had a little time to start breaking down in the stomach acids and bile. However it is certainly not as appetizing as the original kibble meal. And it always has a particular odor that lets you know that this is indeed naturally, organically recycled kibble.
What I got
Fortunately my sausage scramble did not have this odor problem, but the sight of it did trigger a momentary instinctive gag reflex. I let it settle for a moment, tried to wrap my head around what I was looking at. Before I dug in, the lady brought my toast, which looked a whole lot like biscuits covered in even more gravy. The lady asked me something, I was still sorting out my thoughts though. I snapped a picture of the plates, perhaps to use as evidence later. I relented, I manned up and pushed my fork cautiously into the mixture, tasted it shyly. It tasted quite good. It conflicted with what my brain was telling me it should taste like, that acrid, vile goop found in puke.
I closed my eyes for the next couple of bites, this helped a lot. The hash browns were quite good and crispy, I was grateful for the texture contrast.
Sure enough the toast was indeed a biscuit coated in gravy. I forked it and it turned to mush. By the time I tasted it the gravy had already cooled too much and now I had a plate of soggy bread covered in paste.
I could have called someone over and changed my order, but as you, my faithful fans know all so well, that ain't my style. I review what I am served.
I pretty much finished the barf special, but only because of the hash browns adding some texture and the book taking my eyes off of it.. I know what happened to make the plate unappetizing. I'll cover that in the summary.
I liked the coffee, it was delightfully fresh and dark. I knew it would go well with a small dessert. So I splurged and asked for strawberry cheesecake. Strawberries is in my book the third best way to top cheesecake after blueberries and my all-time rare favorite topping, banana pudding. It was cold and dense and delicious. I spent an entire chapter slowly savoring every sweet bite.
The bill came to a few pennies under twelve dollars. Three and a half dollars of that was the cheesecake, not too bad. The service was good considering my coffee cup was never less than half full. The food came quickly and the lady seemed nice and friendly. But lets get to the nut of it. First the toast. It wasn't toast it was tepid, mushy, pasty gravy over an open faced soggy biscuit.
Then there was the dog-barf special.  I notice that the picture I took of my plate makes the eggs brighter and more yellow than the dim and gray day natural light at the table did. At the table it looked duller, gray-ish, brown-ish. I think what happened was this. They crumbled and cooked the sausage, scrambled the eggs, then stirred in the gravy. It was that last step that was the major mistake The picture on the menu clearly showed and even I believe described it as 'topped' with gravy. By mixing it all together the dish lost all visual appeal. Actually that's putting it mildly. It looked absolutely disgusting. Mixing the gravy in had the same effect as mixing too many colors of paint rather than letting them individually shine. It also mushed together the texture into a unified sticky, gooey blob. Yes when I eat breakfast I put all the individual items together on one fork, but at least I control the mixture and can look at it without gagging.
I do not know if it is their standard operating procedure to make a scramble this way, I can only hope that it is not. I don't know if I adequately described how awful the first eyeful of that dish was. This is truly sad since the taste of the sausage and the eggs and the gravy was quite good, if not maybe a little salty. In the future I will be curious to see if people at other tables order this plate and will make note of their reactions. Maybe it won't bother them at all, maybe they don't have a houseful of dogs.
Next time I'll stick with a non-scramble.

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