Panclog #49: Waffle House
Breakfast Buddies Hit Brinner
Waffle House is a gosh darned American staple. Isn’t it bonkers that through the 10 years that the panclog has been alive and breathing that the boys have not visited the best restaurant that has it’s own songs in their jukebox? It’s true! Waffle House has their own songs. This needs to be celebrated!
Even FEMA knows how important Waffle House is to the fabric of our nation. Feel free to peruse the Waffle House website to read how they started in 1955 or to find a location near you.
Location/Environment: There are 15 Waffle Houses in the Kanas City Metro area. We chose the Shawnee location at 75th Street and Nieman Road as it was the closest to the disc golf putting league we are in. (Cool nerd alert). This Waffle House is located in front of a Walmart Neighborhood Market. The layout is classic diner with booths surrounding the kitchen area and a small bar seating that some may call the chef’s table if you are fancy. This location isn’t the cleanest nor the dirtiest Waffle House. It is a typical diner feel.
Service: The service is made up of magicians that can take orders and immediately turn around and start making said order. It may not be the fastest service. But it sure doesn’t matter as the open concept of the kitchen makes for dinner and a show. There wasn’t any recommendations or upsell options. But the menu is pretty straight forward. Speaking of menu…
Menu/Selection: The menu doubles as a placemat. Breakfast menu on one side and dinner on the other. You should find gorgeous pictures of the menus below. Waffle House is known for their hashbrowns. If you don’t try them, you are doing it wrong. Enjoy all of the fun add-ons for the hashbrowns. They don’t just taste great, they are fun to say as well.
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Hashbrown Bowl (Brentley)
In the pantheon of breakfast spots the Panclog has reviewed, shockingly we have not covered Waffle House. We happily rectify that today.
On a Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago, shortly after we completed our rounds in the Disc Golf Putters league we belong to, we found ourselves living our best life entering our local Waffle House. You surely know the restaurant, a mainstay of the American south, made famous in Tin Cup, the Yellow and Black color scheme, the open kitchen, and most importantly, the place where you server is oftentimes your chef. It was recently featured in a fun SNL sketch.
We entered the establishment and found it mostly empty and deceptively still, with two employees milling about. Rather than waiting to be seated we quickly parked ourselves in a booth with an excellent view of the open kitchen. Just glancing around prep area lets you know Waffle House’s motto when it comes to health inspection grades, “Cees, and sometime Dees, get degrees.”
Eventually our server approached us, handing over menus, he asked us what we would like to drink. This may come as a shocker to everyone, but we ordered coffee. After some casual conversation our server returned to us with our beverages and eventually took our order.
Still feeling euphoric from a personal best evening of putters league, I opted for probably one of the least healthy menu options, the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Bowl. You know, there is something satisfying when the name of the menu item leaves out any mystery about what you are getting. The only mystery here is what is the featured cheese. Could it be cheddar? Gouda? Feta? Camembert? Alas, it is American cheese, the most unsung and pilloried cheese. But let’s get honest people, it is the best cheese to place on a sloppy, greasy hamburger.
Jared ordered something that he will tell you about in his section.
By this time a third employee appeared eating a waffle as the Waffle House clientele expanded to fill a little less than half of the open tables. With a late dinner rush in full effect, you would think the Waffle House staff would work with a heightened sense of urgency. But they continued their slow, meandering pace, unaffected by the elements around them. It was like watching a deliberate, sedate, melancholic ballet. I was transfixed by the elegant dance as was the rest of their patronage. No one seemed off put by the speed of service or the perceived rage that each of the coworkers seemed to feel for each other.
When it comes to the food, it was exactly what I expected. The hashbrowns were delightfully crispy. The sausage, provided by Jimmy Dean, was flavorful. The eggs were buttery and light. The added grease from a mysterious cup and the remaining detritus from the grill took the dish to another level. But what really tied the meal together, was the good, old American cheese. The rest of our fair nation, especially those congress people wishing for a national divorce, should take a lesson from America’s cheese. It is a uniter, not a divider.
For nostalgia, Waffle House gets an A. For food, a C+. For the kitchen, a C-. I would certainly go back, especially if I need to take care of business, like this SNL sketch would suggest.
If you enjoy disc golf, I highly recommend joining the putter league we belong to. Details can be found here, https://www.aaiskc.com/disc-golf/. If you are lucky, you might spy us there. Belying our celebrity status, we promise to be kind and friendly. You may even get a hug.
Peanut Butter Waffle with Diced & Peppered Hashbrowns (Jared)
Have you ever been on a trip in Louisville and you decide to take a drive to Lawrenceburg to get some Bourbon. But as you are driving you feel that old familiar ping of your tummy growling? Well, I have been there and we stopped at a Waffle House! I have only one piece of advice for you. Have your smoking hot wife that is also a chef sit facing away from the kitchen. She will count the health code violations that can sometimes be fun but when they just keep coming, it kind of kills the mood.
Yes, Waffle House is not the cleanest place to grab a bite. But that is not the charm of this American staple. What is the charm you ask?
Sometimes food can be art. Sometimes the art is not the final product but the journey along. Yeah I am talking about performance art! This is Waffle House. Waffle House is bringing back the lost trait of server-cooks. The player-manager of the restaurant world.
I chose to have a waffle with peanut butter chips on it. The waffle was a lot thicker and fluffier than I remembered. It was almost a pancake with a bit of form to it. It was magical with the waffle house branded margarine and a bit of syrup.
Before I tell you about the hashbrowns I had, I’ll ask you the question that I asked Beamer whilst dining. There is a well known fantasy sports punishment for the last place team that has the team owner spend 24 hours inside a Waffle House. With every waffle they consume they get an hour off of their time. If you had to complete this challenge, how long are you at the Waffle House? My guess is 14 hours with 10 waffles consumed. And plenty of friends made through the experience.
I have always loved the code words that Waffle House utilizes on their hashbrown orders. You just feel cooler saying Diced Covered smothered or something like that. I had mine Diced and Peppered. That means with tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. The hashbrowns themselves were a bit too underdone for my liking. I will know now to ask for a bit more crispiness in the preparation.
The coffee was delightful. Hit the spot even though it was past 7 PM when we got them. It wasn’t overly bitter or watery. Just straightforward diner coffee. Another perk of sitting right next to the kitchen is with each passing of an employee is an opportunity to get a refill of the Morning Brown.
You get a real bang for your buck at Waffle House.
Peanut Butter Waffle: $5.50
Diced-Peppered Hashbrowns: $4.50
Enjoy a laugh with one of my favorite sketches from I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. I present to you “Brian’s Hat”
Overall: This is not a criticism but a celebration of Waffle House. It is not a prestigious restaurant. But Waffle House has become wildly underrated in recent years.
Brent: Waffle House gets an A. For food, a C+. For the kitchen, a C-
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