Friday, November 28, 2014

Waffle House

I drive back to Ma’s house for major holidays, a boring (for the most part) four-hour drive on major highways to get upstate. Lately I drive at night to get an extra full day with family. The halfway point of the trip is Scranton, where Interstate 380 meets I-81, and marks about the point where traffic drops off precipitously. So it’s a good place to stop for a soda or, if I’m in the mood, a quick bite. Only, what is there in that area besides the standard fast food?

You are looking at what I was told is the northernmost Waffle House in all of the United States. A few miles north of Scranton, Pennsylvania, at exit 194 on Interstate 81, lies this always-open oasis. There’s a sign on the highway directing you not to lose this opportunity to enjoy a Waffle House meal in bucolic Clarks Summit.

I’d driven halfway to my destination this Christmas Eve Eve, so Waffle House coffee was in order while I looked at the laminated menu-slash-placemat. Yes, I thought about taking a coffee cup home with me. The coffee isn’t anything special, standard diner fare, but hot plus constant refills equals win.

I knew what I wanted, and the pleasant waitress dutifully wrote down my order: large hash browns, scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, peppered and country, plus a buttermilk waffle.

The hash browns — in my case, a large order, base price $2.45 — begin by being Scattered on the grill. You can see two of the options I chose: Chunked, with “hickory smoked” ham, and Peppered, with jalapenos. Smothered in onions decided not to be photogenic, but they’re in there.

At the last minute, the whole mess is Covered with American cheese. If the menu tells you cheese is an option, do you have a problem passing it up, too?

Presentation isn’t a hallmark of Waffle House, but good, kinda-greasy, filling food definitely defines the place. So much stuff is folded into the hash browns that each forkful seemed to have all my options. But I know I wanted my hash browns five ways. What was missing?

Ah, yes: Country, with sausage gravy. The cook had forgotten this, the newest option, so I received a bowl of gravy dotted with sausage on the side. Note that none of my five options cost more than an extra 70 cents. The total cost for this dinner plate-sized order of hash browns? $4.85.

Are the hash browns good at Waffle House? Oh my, yes. Really good. The potatoes get a fairly good crisping, as you can see, and while the onions and cheese might disappear from forkful to forkful, you’re confronted with diced ham or jalapeno slices all the time, and I’m never going to grow tired of those tastes.

I’d ordered a buttermilk waffle, since buttermilk costs the same as regular; however, they’d run out of that batter, and I wasn’t in the mood to wait for more to be prepared. Regular waffle it is.

That is a “whipped spread”, mind you, and the syrup is likely your average HFCS, but I’m pretty sure no Michelin stars are in Waffle House’s future. So you make do with a tasty, tasty waffle drenched in syrup, the perfect complement to a mess of hash browns.

It’s not Belgian-waffle sized, it’s Waffle House-sized. And it’s $2.65. Keeping with a theme, the Waffle House waffle nearly takes up the plate, is undoubtedly not good for you, but has a sweetness and lightness that satisfies. I’ve had enough dense waffles at diners to appreciate the difference with this.

All told, my late dinner came out to a bit over $9 without tip. I sat at the counter instead of sitting near the couple of groups in booths in the otherwise-empty restaurant. The waitress was friendly and attentive, and I could watch the food being prepared, not that I could imagine problems with such simple comfort dishes. Of course I’ll be back — whenever I drive through that area, the pull from the bright yellow sign is going to be difficult to resist!

Waffle House on Urbanspoon
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Comments

29 Responses to “Waffle House”
  1. Hungry says:

    Hmm, should I be regretted the several times I’ve passed over the Waffle House while traveling South?

  2. CheeeeEEEEse says:

    An American classic!

    Nice one Yvo!

  3. T.C. says:

    Wow, that plate of hash looks awesome! Somebody needs to put a Waffle House in NY/ Queens. At least LI so they can’t jack the prices sky-high.

    And this looks impressive than a post about Prime Burger today. OPPS. lol.

  4. Also, you’re gross.

  5. chakrateeze says:

    If you ever want to try out WH, drive down to northwest Florida. My son and I were shocked to find one on every corner. In Walton Beach, we counted 3 on the same street! But, one of us always gets a ham and cheese omelet (they put the eggs in the milkshake blender, so they’re extra fluffy) and the other gets a pecan waffle… Man! Gotta go there tomorrow…

    • BeerBoor says:

      Oh, I’ve tried out Waffle House plenty, having lived in North Carolina for nine years and having plenty of friends who drank too much and needed something open at 3:00 am.

      • chakrateeze says:

        I meant to say we have them down here (Memphis, Tn), but it’s as if they BREED down in Florida. And IMHO, IHOP is a joke next to Waffle House! Seriously!

  6. chakrateeze says:

    btw, did anyone else see the train wreck of a EC on Top Chef? Any way you New Yorkers can give some insight on what it’s realllly like to eat dim sum at Grand Harmony? I’d appreciate it.

  7. I discovered Waffle House while driving cross country with my best friend. Salt Lake City is devoid of Waffle Houses and that has left a hole in my heart.

  8. OMG, I want this. I want it bad. With mushrooms.

  9. aimee says:

    I live in the south guys and this place is what it advertises to be. It’s cheapie diner food. No one actually eats anything other than breakfast here but they do eat that at all hours of the day and night. I like Waffle House. Mainly cause I know what ‘m going to get and it’s usually consistent.

    • BeerBoor says:

      I’m always intrigued by the rest of the menu. Who gets a hamburger at Waffle House? I mean, if you could get it with a pile of hash browns on top, smothered, covered, chunked, peppered, country… ohhhhhh, I know what I’m getting next time!

      It really is just a focused chain diner in a part of the country that doesn’t “get” diners. It’s a product of its environment.

  10. jeff simmons says:

    my favorite waffle house in the hole entire world would have to be the one in georgtown because i think they have the best food and the nicest waitresses and it is AWSOME i like it so much that even though i dont know how to use a computer that well i still found out how i could post a comment about the waffle house in georgetown so i could speak my mind about how much i like it but really i only like one of the waffle houses in georgtown and it is store 1288 and i think we and my wife has ate there so much that they all know us every single time we walk into store 1288

  11. TopShelf says:

    There is a Waffle House in Austinburg, Ohio (near Ashtabula). That is further north than Scranton, Pa.

    • BeerBoor says:

      Correct you are! But I have a feeling that one is pretty new — the satellite map shows a lot of clearcutting and dirt surrounding the parking lot where this Waffle House is located.

      We’ll call Clark’s Summit the northeasternmost location.

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