On my cross country drive to Myrtle Beach I started noticing something about the time I entered Missouri. Seemingly located every couple of miles of the remaining drive I saw a couple different restaurants over and over. One of these restaurants was Waffle House. I had never set foot in one before but knew of them because of pop culture and Bubba Watson. The second restaurant I kept seeing took me a while before I figured out what it was. Probably after passing the tenth one I saw I made out the name of Bojangles.
Well it took me almost two weeks in South Carolina to do so but yesterday I decided to eat at both of these southern staples. For lunch I dined at the Bojangles location right next to the campus of Coastal Carolina and then later that night I enjoyed dinner at a Waffle House a couple miles from my place. Besides gaining about ten pounds I also gained the experience of eating at these fine institutions. Also, since I ate by myself, I got to really take it all in and make some quality observations. Might as well stimulate my brain if I am killing my body, right?
The full name of the first restaurant I dined at is Bojangles Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. As you can probably gather, they specialize in serving fried chicken and biscuits. The restaurant is set up like any typical McDonalds or Jack in the Box. You go in, order your food at the counter, receive a number, and then sit at a table or booth. You pour your own drink and help yourself to napkins/condiments.
I ordered the two piece chicken meal. In addition to the chicken I also got a home-style fixin’ (a side item), a biscuit, and a drink. For chicken I received a leg and a wing and I chose mashed potatoes for my home-style fixin’. My food came out less than two minutes after I ordered it. I got my tray and went to my table, looked at my phone one last time, and then started eating.
The chicken had a slight spicy taste to it which I liked. But after that taste dissipated I didn’t really find anything that made it better from KFC. The biscuit in my opinion was just okay, kind of a little dry. So that should say enough; the two items they pride themselves on, chicken and biscuits, both came out as subpar in my book. The mashed potatoes left no impression on me at all. Of course I still ate every bit of my meal. Afterwards I went to the bathroom for a long hand washing before going off to campus to watch softball.
I had a much more satisfying experience at Waffle House. Although I must say I didn’t go in with really high expectations. It seemed like everyone I talked to at work or the people I have met here gave the chain a less than flattering review. Words such as “sketchy” and “low quality” coupled with sarcastic laughter seemed to predominate. But I love waffles and I want the whole southern experience so I knew I would look past the warnings and give it a shot.
Waffle Houses aren’t big places. They are small diners with an open kitchen. You can sit at the counter right in the middle and watch them cook your food or you can sit at surrounding tables. Because I was by myself I sat at the counter. An employee came up to me and asked if I knew what I wanted. I had to tell him I needed to look at a menu because it was my first time ever in a Waffle House. The guy literally thought I was kidding!
I ordered a double order of hash browns with cheese on top AND a peanut butter waffle. To wash it down I got a tall glass of cold milk. The hash browns tasted great. As I ate I could sense how heavy the browns were. Each bite delivered a heavy dose of butter and grease. To give them an extra little kick I added some tobasco and chowed down. After I ate the hash browns I turned to my waffle. They did a nice job of completely covering it with little peanut butter chips. With the waffle still hot even though I ate the potatoes first I closed my eyes in bliss as I ate. Rich and tasty I ate it wondering how the place gets such bad reviews. Unlike at Bojangles where I didn’t find the signature items all that special I felt the waffles at Waffle House were the real deal. (Funny side story: My server cooked himself up the exact same order I put in because he thought it looked so good).
As Waffle House is open 24 hours and there are about 164,093 of them in this area I will surely eat there again. I will give Bojangles another shot too. But I got to use caution. The risk of gaining a lot of weight in my new home is very real. With me eating at these two places I have added another notch to my southern belt. I think the accent comes next. Don’t Blink.