My first example is going to be Stroud’s from Kansas City.
I had never heard of Stroud’s. None of my friends in KC had been there. I really hadn’t done much research before our trip, so when we pulled into KC Sunday night, we were hard pressed to find someplace we really wanted to eat. After surfing Chow.com and Roadfood.com at the hotel, we stumbled upon Stroud’s.
I asked myself – how could I not have known about this place? It has a Zagat excellent rating PLUS a James Beard award. Then we looked up the website. Sticker shock set in. $16.00 for a chicken dinner? After our lunch at Annie Gunn’s, we were a little wary of $16.00 entrees.
But as we were hungry AND the internet (the fount of all knowledge) said this place was good, we opted to take the plunge.
We were so glad we did.
Stroud's prides themselves on their pan fried chicken. Pan fried – not deep fried. The chicken is barely coated with seasoned flour then fried in a cast iron skillet. That takes time. That takes skill.
Every chicken dinner comes family style. That means you get an overflowing bowl to be shared by everyone at the table. The side dishes for the chicken dinner consist of your choice of potatoes, green beans, chicken noodle soup or side salad and cinnamon rolls. Being classically minded people, we opted for mashed potatoes – with homemade gravy.
The noodle soup was great – and so was the homemade poppy seed dressing on the salad, which was served on your basic iceberg lettuce house salad.
So while we are waiting on our drinks, we are watching people go out the door – and there are a lot of boxes and bags in their hands. We assume the folks with the bags were getting huge to-go orders, 'cuz fried chicken traditionally transports pretty well. The boxes – we had no idea. Maybe they were taking out the garbage?
Since it takes time to put out pan fried chicken, we asked for a ½ order of chicken livers. We figured it would be 6 or 8 livers on a plate. This is what we got.
We stared at it a moment. “This must be a mistake – I am sure they brought us a double order.” Tony said. At that moment the manager walked by and said, “No, its a half. Did you want a full order? I can get that for you.” “No no! This is fine!”
Best freakin' chicken livers ever in a restaurant. Perfectly done and served with a side of gravy.
Before we had finished our livers, out came the chicken and side dishes. Holy cow – it was a lot. I grabbed a chicken breast to see how dry it was. Not at all. Moist, Juicy...(I am now salivating all over my keyboard.)
The mashed potatoes were creamy and rich – and the gravy...
I would go and get just the gravy and eat it with a spoon. Rich, flavorful... If you have ever had really good gravy, you know the what I am talking about.
Ladies - is you husband not as "attentive" as he used to be?
Just apply this gravy generously to the neglected area...
The green beans whisked me back to childhood – soft with pieces of ham in them. No healthy fresh veggies for us!
So we ate and we ate and made obscene sounds while doing it – because this was food sex.
Then we got the cinnamon rolls for dessert. These are not what most folks think of as cinnamon rolls. Think more along the lines of monkey bread – yeast dough rolled in butter, than coated in a thick crust of cinnamon sugar. They beg for coffee or milk...
Now I will tell you - we put a serious hurtin' on our food and still couldn't finish it. So without asking, Michelle, our server, brings over a big stack of styrofoam containers for the leftovers. AHHHH – now the light goes on. All those bags leaving with the other patrons...
I haven't mentioned this before – but Tate had opted to stay back at the hotel and watch “The sexy vampire show” on HBO, so we had ordered his dinner for carry out.
We had been going to play a trick on Tate. We are evil like that and Tate would not hesitate to do the same to us if he had the chance. (He is evil too – it's why we get along so well.) The plan was, before pulling into Stroud's, we would stop at Steak n Shake and order something, then put his dinner in the Steak n' Shake bag. We would says that the chicken place was closed and here is your dinner. He would be pissed until he opened the bag -awesome! Nothing like pissing off the guy you have to spend lots of time with for the next three days. We are brilliant!
Tate's order came out in a box. Second mystery solved. Evil plan squashed.
Screw Doggie Bags!
So we waddled out to the car with our bag AND a box of food, drove back and laid like beached whales on our bed while Tate gobbled down his dinner. He made the appropriate orgiastic noises appropriate when one is eating really good food sitting on a hotel bed and saying, “These guys must be sadists! There is so much and I can't stop eating!”
And by the way, leftovers do keep and microwave very acceptably – we got two more lunches out of them. Screw eating fast food in our room...
We went back on Wednesday before we left and had lunch – Tony was weeping for chicken livers with potatoes and gravy. I had some of the best pot roast I have ever had and Tate ordered the chicken fried steak. All excellent.
And yes - there were leftovers. I packed them into the cooler
and ate them for a late dinner when I got home. Damn....
A note about something other than the food: The staff was fantastic. Both servers and the managers were friendly, they put with our constant demands for attention and even took our picture posing with boxes of food. Bless you Stroud's staff members!
Melissa was fantastic! And so patient!!
I am only sorry it is a 10 hour drive to KC, since I would be stopping in at least once a month for some of their top notch food.