Five or more days each week, I drive by Waffle Shop on my way to work. I've been able to watch its progress, going from a shuttered restaurant to the vibrant, breakfast and lunch restaurant that it now is. They first opened in January of 2010, but the hours were sporatic, and they seemed to be closed more than they were open. By the time April came around, they were open on a regular basis, and even had posted a sign in front of the restaurant announcing their "Grand Opening." As the days went by, I noticed cars in the parking lot and customers inside, and I longed to see if they truly serve "The Best Waffle Ever," as their menu states. But all things have a purpose in life, and I had to wait until it was my turn to choose the venue of our club meeting, and that blessed day came on Friday, August 20, 2010.
Photo: We love the patriotic American flag that graces the front of the restaurant, and the sign that reeled us in, that partyly says "Country Cooking."
I got off work at 0800, and since Waffle Shop is only a couple of miles up the street from work, toward the direction of home, it only took a few minutes to arrive at the restaurant. After easily finding a spot to park in the ample parking lot, I did my "usual" thing, in that I whipped out my camera to get a "cover" shot of the exterior of the restaurant. The morning light was good and mellow, and the view was uncluttered, so it took only one shot before I got what I wanted, so with camera in hand, I walked into the restaurant. As I entered, I was greeted by Carrie, with a surprised look on her face, and she made the statement, "You took a photo of the restaurant????" I didn't detect any hostility, just the usual... why would anybody want to take photos of this ordinary restaurant??? mindset that many people have when I take photos. Well, I took advantage of the moment to explain to her the mission of the Sacramento Breakfast Club, who we are, what we do, and the fact that we were planning to enjoy a delicious breakfast, and publish the whole experience on our web site. Talk about opening a virtual door... as now I didn't seem like some voyeur in the parking lot taking illicit photos. I looked around the main dining room and noticed that there weren't any tables or booths adequate for our group - we expected 7 or 8 club members for today's meeting - but she ushered me to a side room, and I helped her push three tables together to create a space large enough for today's meeting.
Waffle Shop is actually a slight deviation from our normal club method-of-operation, as it is one link in a small chain of nine restaurants, located in the foothills and central valley of California, with two of the restaurants located in the greater Sacramento area. Regular readers to our web site will observe that we normally avoid chain restaurants, but nothing is etched in stone, and since this chain of restaurants is small, centered in our part of the state, and caters to the tastes of locals, it meets our criteria, Add to the fact that I drive by the restaurant every work day, and have been observing them since the day they opened for business, only added to hold a meeting at the restaurant. Another lure is their sign, which, in part, reads, Country Cooking. That statement, in itself, is enough to reel us in.
Photo: Carrie takes Matt's order. Photo, taken with my backup camera is not up to our usual high quality, but it gives an idea of the contemporay and pleasant decor of the room.
Photo: Julie pours me another mug of coffee. The delicious coffee never stopped coming.
Waffle Shop maintains an outstanding web site, featuring their complete menu, including current prices, posted online. We've provided a link to their web site at the end of this article, and we'd highly recommend that you surf their site. In our opinion, it behooves a restaurant to publish a web site, complete with their menu and current prices, as the World Wide Web provides 24/7 advertising. In the week prior to today's club meeting, I had the pleasure to share a cubicle at work with fellow breakfast club member Matt, and he and I periodically surfed Waffle Shop's web site, and discussed various breakfast options. Of particular note is the "buy one breakfast and get the second one for free" coupon, and the coupon that knocks $3.00 off the price of their country fried steak breakfast. I'm normally not a fan of coupons, but I had to print out a few to pass along to today's club members, as I can't resist a bargain.
Waffle Shop could be described as a diner, and despite the fact that it's a member of a small chain or restaurants, it has a distinctive "mom and pop: feel and atmosphere. The main dining room features a mixture of booths and tables, with the breakfast counter and the kitchen to the far right of the main room, with a clear view of the serving and kitchen staff. We really like an arrangement such as this, as we like to watch staff in action, and to chit-chat with them, as their time permits. This particular outlet has only been in business a few months, so the decor is very contemporary, with lots of pastel colors and lots of natural lighting. Due to our large party, we were seated in an adjacent room, decorated in a similar fashion, but furnished with tables that could be moved together to fit a group of our size. The only complaint that I could muster was the lamps hanging from the ceiling, as they were a bit on the low side, and I bumped my head a couple of times as I got up to take photos; it's a good thing that I was wearing a hat!
Photo: The main dining room, shoing a few of the booths, the breakfast counter, and the kitchen to the right. Note the attractive decor, and the abundance of natural lighting.
Photo: Whitney pours Matt another cup of coffee.
The menu is posted online, so I had plenty of time to surf the menu, and to drool over the many choices. With a name like "Waffle Shop," one would assume that the menu would feature a vast variation of waffle varieties, and although it features over a dozen waffle selections, it does not offer a vast array. No problem, as we usually pass on waffles and pancakes, as most of the club members are of the meat and potatoes persuasion. We especially were drawn to the All-American Breakfast selections - who couldn't love a category with a title like that/ - the menu features many combination plates of eggs, meat, potatoes, toast, and our de facto standard: biscuits and gravy. If you love potatoes, you're in luck, as you have the choice of has browns or country fried potatoes. Menu categories also include special breakfasts, skillets and omelets. Waffle Shop is open for breakfast and lunch only, so you know they're serious about breakfast!
From their web site, I had printed a coupon for $3.00 off the price of admission for their country fried steak plate, which was my choice, and Dan went along with my idea as well. My wife, Sharlene wanted something a bit lighter, so she ordered a custom-made veggie omelet, using Egg Beaters for less fat and calories, and sliced tomatoes on the side instead of potatoes. David couldn't resist a potatoes and eggs combination plate, with two pork chops as its crown jewel, and the other members of our party made similar choices. It was interesting to note that nobody ordered waffles... One thing for certain is there is something for every taste on the menu, and if it's not on the menu, all you have to do is to ask your friendly server, like my wife did, and they can probably make it for you.
Carrie, who seated us, greeted us, and took our orders, turned out to be our main server, but as our orders were being prepared, we were treated to numerous coffee refills from Julie and Whitney. If you're a coffee lover, you're in luck, as the coffee is not only delicious, but it is plentiful, and your cup will never go below half full. Julie and Whitney also helped Carrie bring our meals to the table, as today's eight breakfast club members ordered a lot of food.
Photo: Carrie places Sarah's breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and country potatoes on the table in front of her, as Dan looks on, with admiration. Dan's huge country fried steak hasn't arrived yet.
Photo: It almost appears that Dan is attemtping to ward off Julie, as she's about to serve him, but that can't be the case, as Dan is a super breakfast afectionado.
Speaking of lots of food, all of us were amazed at the country fried steaks that Dan and I ordered. First, a large plate of three fried eggs, and a slap of country fried potatoes was placed in front of us, Next, came a plate with two biscuits, covered with country gravy. Last, but certainly not least came the main attraction, the country fried steak, smothered in gravy, arrived on a separate plate! A three plate breakfast! The steak was so big it took up the whole plate! The thing nearly took my breath away, as it was gigantic, probably eight inches in diameter and two inches thick, coated with crunchy, golden brown, perfectly deep fried batter. My arteries began to constrict as I look at it, but my mouth began to water, as I thought, "Can I really eat all of that?" I have never seen a chicken fried steak the size of this one, so Waffle Shop gets the award for serving the largest country fried steak in the greater Sacramento area. The sheer size of my steak solicited numerous comments from my fellow club members, with comments such as "Can you really eat all of that?" Only one way to find out...
Although the only entrees weren't massive, like my country fried steak, the portions were very large, and it didn't appear that anybody was going to leave this club meeting hungry. As we enjoyed our breakfasts, and were treated to very frequent coffee refills, all club members agreed that it was an excellent move to hold today's meeting at Waffle Shop.
So now you ask, what did I think about my gigantic country fried steak, and was I able to finish it all? The meat itself was very tender and pounded thin, just like a Texas-style country fried steak should be, and it was coated in a very thick coat of batter, and deep fried to a beautiful golden brown. I'm positive that this steak would be a nutritionist's nightmare, but it sure was good! The batter was tasty, crisp, and not a bit soggy, and it had just a hint of kick. The meat was chewy and tender, and you really didn't need a knife to cut the steak, as the fork alone would have been sufficient to accomplish the job. Of course it was covered with delicious, thick, country gravy, with lots of sausage chunks, which was the same gravy that covered the two biscuits. The large pate contained a slab of country fried potatoes, and three fried eggs over easy, fried soft, just the way I like 'em. The potatoes were round and slice quite thin - I've rarely seen country potatoes like them - and were fried to a golden brown. It wasn't just a quantity thing, as the whole meal was a delicious, quality experience, and enough to satisfy the hunger of a linebacker.
Photo: Now that's a country fried steak! Compare the steak to the utensils and the coffee mug, which will give you idea of the sheer size of it.
Was I able to finish all of it? No way... just like Paul Bunyan, or a Jim Denny pancake, the country fried steak breakfast was larger than life, and it is the material that folklore is made of. I believe that if I would have been able to finish my breakfast, that I would have been a breakfast legend in my own time, and my achievement would be passed on to future generations. But alas, I didn't make the grade, and I gave it my best, and the ol' college try, but I left lots of fried batter, a little gravy, and a few small pieces of meat on my plate. I managed to finish my potatoes, eggs, biscuits and gravy, and swallow an unknown number of mugs of coffee.
All club members agreed that Waffle Shop features comfortable seating, attractive decor, with delicious food and copious quantities, served by friendly and efficient staff. Waffle Shop is highly recommended by members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club.
Photo: Today's Sacramento Breakfast Club members, from left to right, David DeMario, Matt Donnelly, Sarah Donnelly, Dan MacLeod, special guest Danny MacLeod, Bev MacLeod, Sharlene Rench, and Eric Rench, your author, photographer and webmaster. Thanks to Whitney for taking the photo.
Oh, I almost to mention that NOBODY in town can beat the price of their delicious breakfast. For the price of $13.57, which included the $3.00 dollar off coupon for my country fried steak, Sharlene and I received the following:
Unlimited coffee for me
The personable and efficient service rendered by Carrie, Julie and Whitney was priceless, so we gave Carried a $20.00 bill, and told her to keep the change. Now that's value!
Shop Country Cooking
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