Burgers, Barbecue and Pie

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2012/04/30 14:53:23 (permalink)

Burgers, Barbecue and Pie

Cousin Johnny and I just got back from a week+ vacation through the central part of the country.  We did eat plenty of burgers, barbecue and pie, but if there was a fourth item added to the list, it would be fried chicken..... 
Friday April 20, 2012
While looking at flights for this trip, the fares were across the board, ridiculously expensive.  We knew we would be spending most of the time in Oklahoma and Arkansas, but prices put flying into Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock or Memphis unaffordable.  Widening the search to include Wichita, St. Louis, Shreveport, Dallas, etc., we finally found something reasonable using Kansas City.  And this was a nice bonus, since Johnny had never been to KC and it meant at least one trip to Stroud's.
We both had to work on this Friday and even leaving a little earlier could only get us on the ground around 8:50PM.  Since Stroud's closes at 10:00, everything would have to go perfect for us to get there.  In fact, I was already anticipating Gates BBQ and Town Topic being our stops for the night.  Fortunately, the Roadfood gods were smiling that day as the flights were on time, we waited less than five minutes for our luggage, the rental car shuttle was there when we walked out and there was no line at the counter.  We walked into Stroud's at 9:35.  Both Johnny and I are very conscious about not arriving at a restaurant right before they close, but Stroud's was still 3/4 full and at no time during our meal did we ever feel rushed.
I have written about Stroud's in these forums on many occasions.  After doing some thinking, I would name it my second favorite Roadfood restaurant of all-time.  (Santa Fe's Bobcat Bite is a clear #1)  Johnny was eagerly anticipating this visit, having heard about it for years from me, plus seeing it many times on tv food shows.  The interesting thing about Stroud's is that although it is consistently very good, it isn't consistently great.  Last year, The Travelin Man and I ate there together and even though we have both been there many times, we agreed it was the best meal either of us had, yet.  Especially spectacular that night was the mashed potatoes.  Yeah, I know, how could mashed potatoes be that great?  I don't know either.  Just trust me, the mashed potatoes were so good, it clearly aced out the famous fried chicken, cinnamon rolls and everything else for best of table.  But, when we went back two days later, everything was good, but nothing like the previous visit.  For Johnny's sake, I was hoping Stroud's was going to be on this night.
If you order the chicken dinner, you get your choice between salad or chicken noodle soup.  This is officially the easiest choice ever. 

The chicken soup features lots of small bits of chicken and soft noodles.  The broth is salty, hearty and has an intense chicken flavor.  If there is better chicken soup somewhere, I haven't tasted it.
The rest of the meal is served family style.  You do get a choice of potatoes and since we ordered different ones, we get them both.  Johnny went with the mashed,

which was light and fluffy, with some big lumps in it.  Very good, but not as special as that occasion last year.  My cottage fries,

which came out scorching hot were on the greasy side and were made for being covered in the cream gravy.  Speaking of the cream gravy, this night was it's turn to shine.  This is such a thick gravy that as you spoon it up to put on the potatoes, it won't pour.  You have to knock it off the spoon.  And I always remember it as being peppery, but it seemed especially so on this night.  If you had told me before the meal that the cream gravy would be the best thing on the table, I would have never believed you.  But, in this case, it was true.  At one point, Johnny said, "Oooooh, the gravy is really good on the chicken.  But, this gravy would be really good on my shoe!"
The green beans,

which come sitting in pork juice seemed lifeless.  We both agreed that it was the weak link to this meal.  The pan fried chicken was as excellent as ever. 

Incredibly tender, the meat spurts juice when fork or finger pressure is applied and easily pulls away from the bone.  The skin seemed a little thinner than I remember and was super crispy.  With all the terrific sides here at Stroud's, it can be easy to forget that this just might be the best fried chicken in the country.
Another typical strong contender for the best thing here is the cinnamon rolls. 

Sometimes, they just bring them to your table, sometimes they ask if you want it before, during or after your meal.  The correct answer is, deliver when the cinnamon rolls are hot out of the oven.  These showed up not long after the rest of the food and required immediate attention.  The bread part is as soft as can be, while covered with a dense layer of cinnamon.  I have no idea how to desribe them other than perfection!
Our server, despite the late hour, was friendly and kept the iced tea glasses constantly filled.  For our part, we did our best to eat quickly and get out of their way.  As often happens, the owner stopped over to see how we were doing.  Before we left, the waitresses brought out some more hot cinnamon rolls for the road.
Needless to say, cousin Johnny is now also a big fan of Stroud's.
5410 NE Oak Ridge Drive
Kansas City, MO
With the late hour and how full we were, we drove straight to our hotel in Overland Park, KS and called it a night.
Much more to come.....    
post edited by buffetbuster - 2012/05/24 21:43:38

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