Monday, May 4, 2015

Huddle House

13012 MO 21
De Soto, MO

The quest was for a satisfying Chicken Fried Steak. I don't recall exactly why. We discussed different restaurant options, you can find the traditional southern dish lots of places. Somehow we decided to try Huddle House. They were in my head since I'd just received another coupon via email. Not because I'm a food blogger, but because I joined their little fan club. The coupon seemed interesting, a free 'bacon waffle' with the purchase of something else.
The Place:
On Highway 21, just past Veteran's Blvd. Locals will know where that is. It's only been open a year or two. I used to go on Saturday mornings, with a book, to get out on my own for a while. I don't do that much anymore, no reason.
It's kind of small, like Waffle House and that kind of place. HH serves dinners and burgers, but they're more famous for breakfast feasts. Inside, it has that sweet maple smell that WH has as well. We headed to the only cleared and unclaimed table big enough, a five top to the left of the door. I positioned myself for maximum viewage, of the staff as well as the other patrons.
As is typical for these places, the menus are huge, shiny and colorful. More like an oversized tri-fold catalog than a list of options.
'Katie Bug' (according to her name tag) Asked us about drinks, tea, tea and pop. She told us our server, Katie, would be with us shortly. I assumed she was referring to herself in the third person. I respect that, Dennis does the same thing. It's a sign of quiet intelligence.
But no, another young lady, tagged only with 'Katie' came by a few moments later. Dennis was disappointed he'd misjudged Katie Bug. The new Katie seemed to be confident and friendly. Until I picked my toast option, when I said 'brown.' She looked baffled. Angel muttered something like 'all toast is brown.' because she's a smarty pants. Katie eventually figured out that I wanted wheat bread, which to me, seemed a silly thing to call it since all bread offered was made from wheat. The only thing that significantly differentiated the first two choices was the color of the bread, white and brown. Who makes these illogical rules anyhow?
By the time she came back with the drinks, we were all ready to order.
In the time between ordering and eating, I noticed that there were three or four TV's, muted, each one tuned to a different station. Soccer on one, closed-captioned news on another, and the nearest one had a bunch of guys digging for something. It took us a while to figure out what though, At first I  assumed they were gold diggers. Not Dean Martin's singers and dancers, the other kind, husky dirty guys with picks and shovels.
Then I noticed the overhead music. Thank the gods the volume was pretty low else I would have had to destroy the place. Country. Ugh.
The Food.
True to the quest, Angel and I both ordered the CFS. There were two versions of it, a breakfast meal with two eggs, hash browns and toast, and the dinner version with two sides, mostly potatoes with only one veggie option, the unnamed vegetable of the day. We both opted for the breakfast version, since we knew that's what this place was pretty good at.
Angel wanted her eggs scrambled. She also went for the third bread option, also made from wheat, raisin toast.
I asked for over-medium eggs since I like to stir the hash browns into the gloppy yolk.
Adam did us a favor, asking for the thing we had a coupon for, a bacon waffle with chicken tenders. Too bad we'd not printed out the coupon.
The wait for the food was longer than I expected, but not excessive. I watched the guys dig. They finally ID'd the show 'Prospectors Unearthed' They search for rare gems, mostly they looked like random rocks and pebbles.
The food arrived via two servers. They'd split the adult meals into three plates apiece for some reason. The CFS had its own plate, as did the toast. the eggs and hash browns shared a slightly larger one. We thought this was a bit of a waste when it would all have fit nicely on a single, regular sized plate.
Angel and I did the same thing, transferred the steak over to the egg plate and shoved the empty plates out of the way.
They had provided a steak knife, though it was hardly necessary. CFS is pounded tender, and HH had done a good job of that. I did notice that the steak knife was considerably sharper then those they pass out at Ruby Tuesday, where they serve actual, un-pounded steak. The CFS was the first thing Angel and I tried. She nodded and said that she liked a crispy chicken fried steak.
And yes, it was indeed crispy. Inside the breading, the meat was moist and tender. Not over salted or over peppered, just right. It satisfied my craving perfectly. Even the gravy was spot-on. Thick and not over spiced.
The eggs were, of course, perfectly cooked. I've never had a disappointing egg at HH. Angel and I agreed that the hash browns could have been a little crispier, but they tasted good, especially swirled in egg yolk and occasionally a little spillover gravy. My brown toast was fine, I did notice it was lazily buttered. A splat in the middle of two facing slices and not spread. I wasn't too bothered, it's just toast. I wouldn't have ordered it had it not come as standard equipment on the meal.
Adam seemed to enjoy his waffle and tenders. A bacon waffle is really just a waffle with crumbled
bacon on it, not in it. I make sausage waffles at home. I crumble the sausage and mix it into the batter. Adam assumed they would do a similar thing here, nope, just sprinkled some crispy bacon crumbs on a standard waffle. Not a terrible thing, since it is, after all, bacon and waffles.
Summary:
Pretty satisfying. Simple stuff prepared traditionally leaves little room for surprises. A fair price too, $32.40 for everything, about half the cost of the previous week's less than great meal at Ruby Tuesday, with sharper knives as well. You could not eat here often and maintain your girlish figure, it's better suited for carb loading and the occasional comfort food fix. No fruit, nearly no veggies, mostly starchy, buttery and fatty. But for a busy day or a long day on the road, a real pleaser.
I've noticed on social media that this chain gets a lot of criticism. I've never had a bad experience. The place was clean, the food was well prepared, and the service, the two Katies, were friendly, efficient and professional.
As I looked around, everyone seemed to be at least satisfied, even the skinny red headed young man with the scraggly red beard, foot long ponytail and three foot chrome chain clipped to his belt loop at one end and billfold at the other. I did notice several patrons that spanned more than one generation, kids with grandparents. I suppose it's a good place for that, lots of things that both kids and mature adults can enjoy.
I recently went to a diner in Hillsboro, the name of which, I won't mention. I had breakfast, a waffle two eggs, hash browns and bacon. It was awful. The hash browns were greasy and bland, the eggs overcooked and the waffle was delivered with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. For me, the sugar ruined the waffle. It wasn't listed on the menu. That's twice that place has served a very disappointing simple breakfast. I don't think I'll go back. Huddle House, on the other hand, has never disappoints. It's that simple. Get the standards right, customers will come back. Huddle House delivers. Dennis approves.







Huddle House on Urbanspoon

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