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Stallion Grill breakfast--and red eye gravy?

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Stallion Grill breakfast--and red eye gravy?

angusb | Mar 30, 2008 12:32 AM

I have seen several recommendations for the Stallion Grill lately, with good reviews of everything from their breakfast items to their burgers, and I finally decided to try it this morning. When I pulled up, I was afraid they were closed, because there were no other cars in the parking lot. As I walked up to the door, I was convinced that I was going to find it locked, because there was nothing about the place that indicated it was open. I could see no people inside. Just inside the door is a brass rail/corral (like you might see at Luby’s), and there were floor mats tossed crookedly over the rail, as if somebody had picked them up to mop. I tried the door and was surprised to find it open.

My friend and I walked in to the empty looking shop, and somebody quickly came out of the back and said “We’re open,” and pointed out the breakfast menu. As we were looking at the menu, a young woman came out of the back to take our order. I asked if they had red eye gravy, and she said “Red eye gravy?” She said they didn’t have it. I said that I had heard they served red eye gravy. She said that she had never heard of it. Then she asked if I meant brown gravy. I explained that it is brown, but not like regular brown gravy. Then, despite my growing skepticism, I said that I’d take a side of that gravy. The cook looked at our order and said that he’d have to make the gravy. I asked him if it was red eye gravy and he said, “Yes.”

We took our coffee cups and poured ourselves some coffee. The coffee was sour and burned tasting, despite the fact that it was stored in a thermal carafe rather than on a hot plate. Coffee is the one thing that I can claim to know something about, since I have been in the coffee business for many years, and I can confidently say that, contrary to reports, the coffee at Stallion Grill was simply bad.

As we gathered our utensils and napkins before sitting down, I found that the whole place suffered from a lack of order. The utensils were stored on one table next to the coffee, while the cream and sugar were tucked farther back on a different table along with the napkins. And I came across my pet peeve—napkins that are almost impossible to get out of the dispenser. In this case, they had filled their napkin dispenser, which was meant to work with “S” fold napkins (the kind that pop up one at a time like Kleenex) with “C” fold napkins (the kind that usually go in a table-top dispenser), and they had packed them so tightly, and they were positioned in such a way that it was impossible to grasp the edge, and so I was forced to pinch a bunch of them firmly and wrench them out of the dispenser. As I sat down to wait for the food, I realized that the whole place also smelled like rancid grease.

None of that would have mattered so much to me if the food had been good. It was not. The eggs tasted as if they had been fried in that rancid grease. The bacon tasted as if it had been fried in rancid bacon grease. The “red eye” gravy was nothing like the red eye gravy that I’ve had before. I have to say that I don’t consider myself an expert on red eye gravy. For one thing, my grandmother believed that drinking coffee was a sin, so she wouldn’t allow it in her house (and now you know how I ended up in the coffee business), and so my mother and her sisters didn’t grow up with red eye gravy as part of their family’s culinary heritage. The red eye gravies that I have been served have therefore been at the homes of more distant relatives—great aunts and assorted cousins, and a few times at restaurants over the years. I do recall being served red eye gravies that were quite thin, like au jus, and also others that were thickened with flour, more like a traditional gravy. The gravy that I was served at Stallion Grill was nothing like those gravies. It was, as far as I could tell, a simple brown gravy, uniform in color and consistency. It had an odd metallic flavor, and if I had to guess, I would say that it was made from a packet, or perhaps from a tin.

The home style potatoes were inoffensive. The best part of the meal was the biscuits and cream gravy (I ordered an extra small side because I love this dish, and I had to try it). As reported in another thread, the biscuits are topped with a healthy dose of fried sausage bits before being topped with the gravy. Both the biscuits and the gravy were good. The dish was marred slightly by the fact that the sausage bits seemed to have been poured onto the biscuits along with ALL of the sausage grease. One of the biscuits was completely soaked in sausage grease before the gravy was added (this is not the sort of thing that normally bothers me, but I have to say…that was a lot of grease!). I asked my friend if he liked his pancakes and he told me that they tasted like they had been cooked in “some kind of bad grease”.

We left Stallion Grill and made our way to Fiesta north, where I found the almost entirely ripe plantains I’d been looking for, so the morning wasn’t a complete waste. While walking around the market, I asked my uncomplaining friend if he had liked the breakfast. He spoke for us both when he replied, “I didn’t like it at all”.

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