Monday, April 1, 2013

Waffle House

Waffle House, 7109 W Broad St., Richmond (other locations available too!)
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Menu

Karisa: I've had the immense pleasure of dining at Waffle House on many occasions. In fact, many of my fondest memories from high school, college, and beyond include Waffle House. It's an institution in any Southerners life, and should definitely be on the short list for any brunch experience. In fact, Michele and I spent our very first brunch of the year at Waffle House in the wee hours of January 1st. Sadly, Kathy had never heard of the joy that is WaHo until several months ago while discussing hash browns. Loyal readers may know that Kathy gets quite upset with restaurants touting "home fries" as "hash browns." When we told her of the hash browns available at Waffle House she excitedly asked "What is this place? Where can I find it? Is it expensive?" Lucky for her, we have several locations in the Richmond area that are easily accessible, and open 24 hours a day!

On this special brunch club trip to Waffle House, I splurged a little and ordered double hash browns smothered (with onions) and double covered (with cheese) and a side of dry (no butter) raisin toast. Was I in for a treat! The hash browns were perfectly crispy with flavors of caramelized onion and cheese. The double order was stacked to give two layers of hash brown perfection. The raisin toast served with melt in your mouth apple butter. I may have died and gone to brunch heaven! What's not to love about the Waffle House? The service is prompt and friendly, the open kitchen makes each seat feel like the chef's table, and the food is always comforting and consistent. As the sign on the door states, "See you tomorrow!" They're right. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Andrea: My love of Waffle House goes way back as well (although maybe not as long-lasting as Karisa's). I have fond memories of WaHo adventures after weekend fun during grad school and before long days of shopping in Amish County in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with my parents. Usually I go with the pecan waffle, a buttery delectable staple, but today I decided to try something new to me - their version of a breakfast burrito. Mine came with bacon, egg, and cheese, and I was impressed that extra care was provided to press the burrito together; it made a crispy exterior to complement the creamy eggy/cheesy/meaty interior. I had a side of hash browns as well (covered) to refresh my palate about all that Kathy's been raving about the past few months. They were crispy and tasty for sure. My beverage du jour was a Diet Coke, which the server lovingly adorned with not one but two slices of lemon when I asked for a twist of lemon. I love the homey atmosphere of Waffle House; somewhere that you never have to dress up, impress, or put on airs....definitely a come-as-you are kinda place! Refreshing on weekends when you don't feel like putting on clothes other than your pajamas. I will definitely be returning here for brunch at any hour of the day for great service, stick-to-your-ribs deliciousness, and an ambiance with can't-be-beat people watching!

Michele: We brunched at a very special place this week. I have been to Waffle Houses countless times in the past. It was a late night hangout in high school, a road trip favorite in college, and still a pleasurable dining experience as I've become an adult. I feel like I've been working on this glowing review of the Waffle House for over a decade.

On this particular brunch day, our server promptly stopped by the table and took our drink orders. I asked for coffee and a virgin mimosa. I appreciated when she asked whether I wanted a small or large drink, and of course I replied "Large!" The coffee arrived first, along with an entire handful of creamer cups. She read our minds! The coffee came in adorable Waffle House logo mugs. Our virgin mimosas took a bit longer but were worth the extra wait. The orange juice was refreshing and hit the spot.

The Waffle House menu is so customizable, my favorite feature about this restaurant. Many items come in single, double, and triple sizes, and, of course, the Waffle House is famous for their wide variety of hash brown toppings. For my meal this week I ordered two eggs over easy with a biscuit, hash browns smothered, covered, and diced, and a side of sausage. It is hard to beat the service at the Waffle House -- our food arrived so quickly. My eggs were perfectly over easy, and the fluffy biscuit soaked up the runny yolks beautifully. The hash browns were crispy and cheesy. The tomatoes I ordered in there added acidity to the plate. The sausage patties brought some spice and texture to the meal. I washed it all down with several cups of delicious coffee that our very prompt server kept refilling.

I will absolutely come back to the Waffle House again. With 24 hour service and breakfast always available, it's hard to beat the WaHo's cross-cultural and cross-generational appeal. Many of the Waffle House restaurants that I've been to have booths right next to the kitchen, so you can watch your eggs and hash browns on the griddle. Not to be forgotten, the service is always quick and friendly. I highly recommend the Waffle House to everyone. This little gem is perfect when you need an early, hearty breakfast, when you're in the mood for eggs for dinner, or when you need to grab a late night/early morning bite.

Kathy: I'm from CT and we don't have Waffle Houses. Virginia's most redeeming quality is that Waffle Houses abound, but I'd not always known this alluring fact about my new state. One day over brunch, as a new brunch club member, I lamented how seemingly every food establishment in the Commonwealth advertised home fries as hash browns. Every time I read "hash browns" on a menu, I got tricked. Every time I felt my heart deflate when the server brought some variation of cubed potatoes instead of the shredded, crispy goodness we all know is the best form of potato. Luckily, Karisa came to the rescue to let me in on the Waffle House secret. And oh, does WaHo (now that I'm *in*, I can use this slang) have hash browns. As most folks know, WaHo allows a hash brown lover a multitude of stylings. Feel free to troll in the comments here, but clearly a triple hash brown scattered and smothered is the best style. Of course, that's what I ordered for this brunch, with a side of bacon, a hot tea, and and OJ. Let's dispense with the obvious: the hash browns are insane. I could eat them and nothing else for the rest of my life. I always put ketchup on them in the form of a smiley face, because that's how freaking happy they make me, and let me tell you I'm generally not the sort to go around putting smiles on foods. Now, the lesser obvious, yet no less crucial part of the WaHo experience: the bacon is so good. It's perfectly crispy, neither too thick nor too thin, and not full of fatty parts. I know there's probably as much controversy over the proper bacon cooking method as there is over hash brown styles, but from our view of the open kitchen at what we called the chef's table, I saw the cook fold my bacon and gently nestle it under a griddle iron, creating crackling goodness. My tea made me feel special in a way that few other brunch spots have done. For one, I got a large, nationalistic mug. The tea, while only one option, had a lion's head on the bag, so it's obviously fancy. I mean, the lion had a crown, and what else do you really want from your tea anyway? The OJ was similarly impressive, served in a giant glass. I hate tiny juice glasses. What's the point? They're basically a test sample of juice. I have never in my life felt a craving for juice and thought, "Oh, but this thimble size will surely satisfy me!" WaHo sees in to our souls' desires and delivers the promise of fresh OJ, fantastic meats, and delicious starches, making this decidedly New Englander gal proud to be in Virginia (for at least as long as it takes to clear my plate).

Rating: 5
Food - Very Good. Personalized. Hash browns. What else do you need to know? Hands down the best hash browns in Richmond (or anywhere, we'd venture to guess.) A plethora of options for all palates, including crispy bacon, perfectly cooked eggs, and flavor additions to soda. Plus, the menu doubles as a placemat!
Service - Very Good. Perfect, in fact. She was very mindful of our happiness and well-being  so provided a plethora of creamers to keep us entertained. Our cups were never empty, and the food came out very quickly.
Atmosphere - Very Good. The open kitchen creates a very posh atmosphere while a juke box is reminiscent of an older, more classic diner. The Waffle House is connected to the community with a billboard of community events and a clear love of America. The booths are as cozy as could be, with inviting black and white photography adorning the walls.
Coffee - Very Good. The mugs were adorable with the embellishment of the restaurant's name. We were impressed with the house blend and the specialized containers for regular and decaf varieties. The freshness was apparent as we saw a vessel containing the whole beans. 
Tea - Very Good. The tea had a very fancy presentation with the tea bag offered at the end of the spoon with a side plate instead of a saucer which allowed for extra room. The orange pekoe tea appeared to be imported from India or England. 
(Virgin) Mimosa - Very Good. Waffle House is so concerned about public health that they do not serve alcohol, and thus we enjoyed Virgin Mimosas. Thank  you, Waffle House!
Bloody MaryNot rated. Waffle House doesn't have a liquor license, but to be honest, it wasn't missed this week.

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