Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Out Of Town: Waffle House, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Waffle House
Address: 1405 Martin Springs, Rolla, MO
Genres: home-style, american
Check Constraints: None.
Chain: Nationwide, but mostly in the southern half of the States.

  • Coffee ($1.19)
  • Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Texas Melt ($4.14)
  • Cheese Grits ($1.54)
  • Regular Hashbrowns ($4.29)
    • Scattered
    • Smothered
    • Covered
    • Chunked
    • Diced
    • Peppered
    • Capped
Waffle Houses are practically an American institution. They're everywhere, they all look exactly the same inside, and they all have a jukebox that is full of songs, oddly enough, about the Waffle House. My compatriots looked at me funny when I said I wanted to put the Waffle House on the blog - after all, it's not like we'd stoop so far as to blog a visit to McDonald's. But I insist that the Waffle House Experience, such as it is, is a valuable thing which deserves a space in our hearts, in our minds, and most importantly on this blog.

Waffle Houses have great coffee, for starters. And it's reasonably cheap, to boot. The single problem with the coffee is that they have absolutely zero artificial sweeteners, at least at this location. So plan ahead, if Splenda is your cancer of choice like mine is.
The sandwich was good. Almost all the food at a Waffle House is cooked to order, so instead of that yellow tasteless brick you'd get in a McMuffin, your sandwich comes with a real cooked egg, over hard and crispy around the edges. Mmm, just how I like it! They only use American cheese for anything, which is kind of a minus, but hey. The sandwich comes with standard bread, but I always bump up to their thicker "Texas" cuts, since it helps the sandwich hold together better.

The hash browns are another Waffle House must-have. You can get them with a fascinating array of toppings, designated by their short-order waitress callsigns from Back In The Day. If you get a bunch of them they add up, but the bulk from a set of hashbrowns taken all the way to the limit on toppings is almost a meal in and of itself. If you toss some Casa de Waffle Salsa on top, it's dang filling.

I've had Waffle House grits before, but this was the first time I'd had them with a slice of American cheese on top. After some vigorous stirring, it had melted in and suffused the grits with a cheesy ... something. I won't go so far as to say it was goodness, but it was definitely cheesy. The grits themselves are definitely not instant. You can tell this because they are clumped together, so if you're a fan of the smoother grits which kind of approach a Cream of Wheat consistency, stay away. This winds up being like a soupy polenta, which I think is perfectly delicious.

I don't know if I could have lived with myself not putting this up here. Waffle Houses, while being a chain, keep a part of America alive. Well, perhaps not quite alive - it's more like they have it in a jar of formaldehyde on the shelf, but at least you can look at it when you're eating and remember. That has to be better than Starbucks.

... right?


... right. I suppose, in the end, that I have to agree with Cham. While I didn't actually eat any food on THIS trip, there's a reason that Waffle House is our breakfast of choice on Saturday morning during trips to Rolla. Saturday is always a long day at a convention, and a large Waffle House breakfast really helps. I woke up with a killer headache and negative hunger level this saturday, though, so I contented myself with coffee and a large glass each of chocolate milk and orange juice.

Normally, though, I get a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito, plus hash browns covered and chunked(in other words, with ham and cheese). Cham is absolutely right about the hash browns, which are always nicely done, and are absolutely wonderful with the salt from the ham plus a bit of pepper. I keep coming back to the breakfast burrito because it's the one I model my homemade ones on. Decent pork sausage, eggs scrambled only barely to the point where they won't drip out of the tortilla anymore, and cheese everywhere. Oh, and for some reason, a couple hamburger pickles on the side. I've been a huge fan of pickles since I was a kid, though, so that's just a free bonus.

Also, Cham is entirely correct about the coffee being excellent. Screw Starbucks and their gourmet crap, when I woke up with a pounding head, Waffle House coffee and a mouth full of ibuprofen had me feeling human again in half an hour. That's quality.

  • Orange Juice ($?)
  • A waffle ($2.79?)
  • 2 Eggs, Toast, and normal Grits ($2.99?)
The website, not so great on the detailing of the menu. Sigh. I didn't see Cham note that the place is a diner type, although that's not a hard guess, but I'll note it anyway.

The place is always solid, and a nice waffle for less than 5 bucks (seriously!) is not as common as one might hope. As one of the few people that actually orders a damn waffle at the place, (also something I do not understand) I enjoy it every time. And will continue to waffle out at the waffle house, as I am a sucker for things with syrup on them.

However, I tend to shift around my ideas on what to eat as sides. I think I'm going to have to try hash browns next time, because bacon is inconsistent, sausage is bleh, and I didn't like the normal grits too much (this was my first time trying straight grits, though.) The eggs are eggs, the toast is toast, I don't have much to add there. Perhaps I should just go with two waffles, and screw 'balance' in the interest of 'solid deliciousness.'