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Bon Appétit devotes 8 full-color pages of its March 2015 issue to the American southern wonder that is Waffle House. The magazine’s Restaurant and Drinks editor, Andrew Knowlton, worked the grill of one in Atlanta for 24 hours straight in order to bring readers the story in the style of a-day-in-the-life. Click here for a good read.
Even after shaving his beard in the restaurant’s bathroom to avoid having to wear a beard net, even after making about 60 waffles, even after cleaning the hot and oily grill with a huge stone, even after the rush of loud and drunk customers between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., even after spending 24 hours on his feet churning out hash browns and patty melts and chicken sandwiches — even then — Waffle House is still Knowlton’s favorite place to eat. He says so on page 66.
I’ve never dined at a Waffle House in my adult life, and, if my parents ever took us kids to one before that, I have no memory of it. My husband has always grimaced and closed his eyes at the mention of the place (“Awful House,” he says, shuddering), so I’ve never been tempted to go.
But I couldn’t sleep last night, so I read Andrew Knowlton’s article, and by the time I shuffled to bed around midnight, I was already dreaming of having breakfast there today.
I’m happy to say the pecan waffle was delicious, the hash browns were crisp and tasty, and the two thin sausage patties well-seasoned and flavorful. My waitress was a new hire, apparently, still learning how to call orders to the grill cook, and she didn’t come around to refill my coffee cup as often as I would have liked. But she was nice, and she did her best. I still tipped her well.
Life must be good as a Waffle House regular, I think. Those people were known by name amongst each other and by staff, and conviviality ran thick. But the man in the booth behind me talked loudly and incessantly on his cell phone about his girlfriends, and I wanted to stab him with my Waffle House knife within five minutes of arriving. When he sneezed a kerchoo so raw and explosive that my shoulders jerked up to my ears involuntarily, conversation in the rest of the place briefly stopped. I squelched the violence in my heart and said to him, bless you, purely as a reflex of manners after decades of living in the Bible Belt. It was the only time he shut up, and that lasted mere seconds.
I will go back to Waffle House, and I will have more pecan waffles and sausage patties, but I probably can’t convince my husband to come (“Awful House!” he said again today after learning where I’d been), and I will know not to sit near the man on the cell phone. See? I already know things like a regular.