Monday, August 6, 2012

“Two for Breakfast?”

…asked the hostess at the Restaurant in the Mather Lodge in Petit Jean State Park about 30 miles southeast of Russellville, AR.

“We’re here for whatever meal you are serving” was my reply.

In our haste to beat the heat—an effort at which we were unsuccessful—we left home without eating breakfast. When 10:30 a.m. rolled around, we were hot, thirsty, and very hungry. We didn’t care what meal we ate. We wanted food.

In tomorrow’s blog, Chuck will talk about the lodge itself. But the lodge’s website invited you to “Enjoy a delicious meal in rustic warmth of Mather Lodge's main dining room while taking in the breathtaking view of scenic, rugged Cedar Creek Canyon. Large windows frame this view from the bluff….

"This portion of the lodge recently underwent a $4.3 million renovation that replaced the lodge's earlier 1960s-era dining room with a more rustic-style design,…This renovated portion now mirrors the Adirondack-style park architecture of the 1930s' original portions of Mather Lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and expanded by the Works Progress Administration.”

Breakfast can be ordered from a short menu or you can opt for the buffet. I did a quick reconnaissance of the buffet line and noted that the choices included French toast fingers, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, and fresh fruit. These selections were not, in my opinion, worth the buffet’s price.

So we scanned the menu. In addition to pancakes, waffles, and French toast, there were two omelets (a garden/veggie and something called Petit Jean’s Special), and a couple of eggs and meat combos. I finally chose the combo of two eggs, two biscuits with gravy, hash browns (I could have had grits.), and sausage (or I could have had either bacon or ham.)

The eggs were nicely cooked over easy to that the yolks ran and mixed with the other food elements on the plate. Some may find that objectionable, but I like it. The hash browns (I am sure frozen and shaken from a bag) were fine. And the sausage patties—also commercial I am sure—were nicely seasoned.

And now for the biscuits and gravy. I should have entitled this blog “Won't Get Fooled Again” (The Who). How many times on this trip through the South have I ordered biscuits and gravy only to be disappointed? Countless times. That’s how many. And this was no exception. The gravy was adequate but these must have been the all-time worst biscuits. On the menu, they proudly state that they make their own buttermilk biscuits. They should have kept this a secret. These were so hard that they could have been used as a hockey puck and, should they hit the goalie, inflict major damage.

Chuck selected the three stack of pancakes with two eggs scrambled and hash browns.
At first glance, the pancakes looked good. But after a few bites he realized that these were not as light as they looked.
While they lacked—and that’s a good thing—the sharp taste of baking powder, they were just too thick.

Now I could see that he was slowing down. He would take a bite and then pause. Repeat. And repeat. So I suggested that he stop eating and we take the leftovers home. I have become quite adroit at reheating pancakes in the microwave.

It’s too bad that the quality of the Mather Lodge’s food does not match the magnificence of the setting and doesn’t earn anything more than a 2.0 Addie rating.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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