Thursday, October 29, 2015

Waffle House isn't Awful House anymore!

Long before Benihana and other restaurants like it made food preparation a performance art, an old and familiar slice of Americana allowed us to peer into its kitchen for our culinary entertainment. Known for their steaming hot coffee, crisp waffles, and hash browns (scattered, smothered AND covered), Waffle House was a mecca for late night bar hoppers, or bleary-eyed truckers to partake in some greasy comfort food.

I realize it doesn’t sound like place that I would review on this blog – I’ve focused on cheap and tasty bar bites, but the WF franchise on Highway 6 and 10 is a standout. The food is fast and inexpensive, but what makes it exceptional is the quality of the food. You would think that the waffles would be the star attraction, but for me, the other breakfast staples -- eggs, hash browns, and grits make it worth the trip. The aforementioned hash browns are crisp and golden brown on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside. And eggs, wow, they cook their eggs perfectly – I’ve been to very fancy restaurants that turned out overcooked eggs. But, the piéce de résistance is the grits – not just any grits, mind you, but a creamy, buttery, salty, steamy bowl of happiness. The one note though, you can’t get these grits every day of the week, at least you can’t get them on Sundays, because the “Grit Meister,” our friend, Lugene, doesn’t work on Sundays.
Our friend Lugene, whipping up his magic

Lugene is Waffle House’s main short order cook and customer greeter. Not only is he a great cook, but his glowing personality makes the place a destination. He moves gracefully between acting as the social ambassador for the restaurant, and whipping up multiple short orders, making it all look very easy. He is amazing to watch, and is an example of how one person can make a big difference in an organization.

Eating at WF is an experience in itself – hop up to the bar to watch Lugene and all the staff rustle up your meal, or for a quieter experience, sit at the tables near the window. Be advised, though – it’s always very chilly in the restaurant, so bring a jacket. The good news is, unlike many WFs, this franchise has a policy of no smoking, so you don’t have to deal with nasty smoke invading your breakfast experience.

My partially eaten breakfast...I couldn't wait to dig in!
Navigating the parking lot at WH can be a bit of a challenge, especially now with the Mercedes Benz dealership construction happening next door, but the trouble is worth it. The earlier you can get there, the better, because they get busy after 8 a.m.

Try the cheese and eggs special – for $7.90, you get 2 scrambled eggs mixed with melted cheese (delicious!), two sausage patties (or bacon), toast, grits (or hash browns) and coffee. Good food for that price is practically unheard of here in the Energy Corridor. Too many restaurants hype their great food, but few deliver so deliciously and inexpensively as the I-6 Waffle House…check it out!

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