Monday, October 13, 2014

Pizza Hut

201 - 203 S. Truman Blvd
Crystal City, MO
On the Interwebs.

It had been longer than we could remember since we'd had a Pizza Hut pizza. It was probably takeout. It used to be our go-to place until the Pizza Junction opened up here, closer, in Hillsboro.
We could have gone to the PH in Desoto, it's closer, but we headed to Crystal City/Festus anyhow. We knew they had moved recently, from one building in a shopping center to another. I'm pretty sure we hadn't been to either.
I asked Angel during the drive an interview-like question:
"So what is your level of expectation for Pizza Hut?"
"You mean like on a scale of one to five?"
"No, no, of course not... One to seven."
She thought for  a bit, then finally: "Four."
I thought this was an interesting answer, so I dug in.
She explained that back in the day, BPJ (before Pizza Junction) she'd always been quite satisfied with PH. "So my actual expectation is probably a bit higher than that." She amended.
It was a beautiful Autumn day, cool but not cold, bright blue October sky.
There weren't many people there.
The Place:
We were seated and then greeted by a young lady with 'Amber' on her name tag. I assumed that was her name. She handed us menus, simple, legal sized laminated cards.
"Would you like something to drink?" She asked politely.
"Why yes, yes we would." I replied and returned to casually scanning the menu.
Angel finally nudged me (poked me in the ribs with her elbow) and I looked up at Amber, she was looking at me, almost frustrated. I've recently discovered that people don't always ask the question they think they are asking and when you answer the question they actually ask, they look at you funny. Like that's my fault.
We barked out our drink demands, tea, unsweetened with no sugar, sweet tea and Pepsi.
I looked around.  The place did indeed look new.
They went with a sports theme, several big screens, thankfully muted and playing sports games. . .football, I think. On the walls were framed, full size sports shirts of game players that I'd mostly never heard of. Somebody once told me sports shirts were called 'Jerseys' which just made no sense. The garment long known as a Jersey originated on the Island of Jersey, a Crown Dependency of the United Kingdom. These knitted wool garments were the rugged and heavy predecessor of what we call a sweater. Modern sports shirts seem to be made from some sort of space age polymer and would hardly keep a man warm on the damp, wind swept island.
The tables and booths were all new and the carpet was barely worn. A nice place, if you like sports and misnamed articles of sports clothing.
The Food:
We had all decided to have pizza. Which was good since they don't really serve much else at Pizza Hut. We had also decided to get three individual pizzas. We all have favorite things on and styles of pizza, that do not sync up well. To build a 'compromise' pizza would leave at least two out of three of us less than satisfied.
So we all scanned the full range of options.

Angel likes thin crust, Adam and I prefer hand-tossed. Angel and I like the 'Supreme' Adam doesn't like veggies on his pie. Thus, three different pizzas.
As the drinks were delivered Angel and Adam had decided to get some wings, like Angel needs more wings. I rarely eat wings because they tend to spice them with acid, or whatever it is that makes a hot wing a hot wing. I've never found any I care for, at all. So they didn't even consult me. After some debate they eventually decided on  Bone-Out Asian style. Sure, fine. Just stop saying 'bone-out'
After a few minutes Amber brought some small plates, some bundled silverware and some napkins along with the wings. The wings looked like Chinese style, breaded balls, fried golden brown, with a distinct sugary smell.
Adam noticed it too. "They smell Asian." he said. I shut him down immediately. "Don't be such a racist." I scolded him. I know lots of people from Asia, they don't smell any worse than most Americans I know. How embarrassing.
I decided to go ahead and try one of the wings . .  .maybe it would be like Chinese. It sort of was, then the pepper spray element hit. Two bites, that was it. Angel and Adam seemed to like them though.
The thing with a pizza place is that there will always be a wait. We were prepared, we had devices, PH had WiFi.
Linoleum Thin Crust Supreme
Soon enough the pizzas arrived. Well, sort of. Amber led the delivery with an apology. "We made them all thin crust, we're making two more for you with the right crust, but here are the ones we made."
Well, color me impressed. Back when I worked in a pizza place we counted on botched orders, they became 'house pies' for the staff. It looks like managers finally figured that little scam out.
Yes it was a mistake, but the fact that she came out ahead of it rather than concocting some sort of cover story instantly made it not so bad.
I had one slice of the thin crust. Of course, the ingredients were all the same, so I sat and picked at them. I don't hate thin crust, I just prefer something a little more substantial, with a flavor and texture less like linoleum.
Hand Tossed Supreme

A while later Amber returned with drink refills and a question. "Would you like the hand tossed pizzas in a box?"

"No, we'd prefer these two in a box." I answered, pointing to mine and Adam's, which were mostly intact.
She brought a couple of boxes, followed shortly by our original choice pizzas. Angel was about a third of the way through hers.
I goofed up because I was hungry. I broke off one slice and stuck it into my face. The four hundred degree sticky cheese stuck to my tongue and sent shock waves through my system. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I let the next one cool, I drank a little more of my stale and weak tea. Finally I was able to eat the thing.
Hand Tossed Pepperoni Lover's
It was kind of sloppy looking, hurried. It looked as though the kitchen might have rushed it through since it was to make up for a mistake. The toppings looked as though they were arranged with help from a hand grenade. Though the crust did have the signature poofy spots, which I love, the bottom of the crust wasn't faring well. It was  turning soggy and was disintegrating. I noticed that this pie had bigger, deeper puddles of grease, a little off-putting. By the third small piece, I was basically scooping the hot mess off the plate with my fingers, it was coming apart. I didn't get halfway through it before I slid the remains into my box. Adam did likewise. Angel had one slice left, we added it. We ended up taking away nearly three full pizzas.
Angel liked it though, she really likes, and I share this sentiment, the large, chunky peppers, mushrooms and onions. We also liked the sausage.
We always order too much pizza, that's because we all like breakfast pizza.
The bill came to forty six bucks, not bad for five pizzas and eight chicken nuggets, I suppose, but we weren't paying for five pizzas, just three. This seemed a bit pricy for industrial pizzas.
By industrial, I mean 'franchise'.
If you can't make it yourself, you get somebody to make pizza for you. If you are going to buy a pizza,
there's a hierarchy. 1. Privately owned and operated places. 2. Franchises, 3. Frozen.
Private individuals that operate pizza places care about their food first and foremost. You can usually taste that passion. Franchises are businesses bought up by business people. They want to make as much money with as little expense as is possible. Some may be passionate about the pies, but not usually. In most cases the recipes are not even their own.
Frozen is what you eat when no one's watching. It's not really that much cheaper for a brand name frozen pizza than at a pizzeria, but you can eat it when you are alone and too lazy to actually prepare food.
All in all, for a franchise pizza, this was pretty good. Not nearly as good as Pizza Junction, or dozens of other places around the area, but if you want a fast, simple, satisfying pizza, this is a good place.
Amber did an exemplary job of handling a tough problem. I liked that. Mistakes are going to happen. Places get into more trouble when they try to cover it up. She kept the drinks refilled, the bill came quick. Excellent service.
We'll probably go back sometime, but probably not for a while. There's just too many great pizzerias in the area to settle for his very often.

Pizza Hut on Urbanspoon

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