The Trenchermen

We eat other people’s food.

Posts Tagged ‘Missouri

Steak ‘n Shake (Springfield, MO)

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In the recent surge of food enthusiasm, much attention has been focused on the hamburger, America’s favorite food.  There are those who praise the fat patty, composed of carefully-calibrated mixes of meat, sometimes filled with flavor-adding ingredients.  There are others who prefer a smashed, buttery burger.  In New York, Shake Shack is the genre-defining purveyor in the latter category.  In California (and elsewhere,  now), In-n-Out Burger generally wins.  On our recent trip to Missouri, we tried the Midwest’s leading contender, Steak ‘n Shake.  In my opinion, it’s better than the rest.  (My contacts from Saint Louis agree.)

We visited what I am told is the first Springfield location:  a classic diner format with the word “Takhomasak” (take home a sack?) displayed on an awning out front.  I ordered the Original Double ‘n Cheese, which comes with two patties, American cheese, and a selection of toppings.  The patties are smashed, cooked through, and somewhat flaky.  And very greasy.  But the meat is delicious; it tastes more fresh and buttery than the  grayed-through patties you get in most other fast-food chains.  The toppings included the standard fare — ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, etc. — and some exquisite others, most notably mustard relish.

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Written by trencherman

September 23, 2010 at 11:58 am

Arthur Bryant’s BBQ (Kansas City, MO)

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We recently traveled to the great tornado-whipped state of Missouri for a wedding, a house-cleaning, and some strenuous and significant family time.  But all of that was in Springfield, a city that I would imagine to be in a different state from Kansas City if the maps didn’t tell me otherwise.  (Actually, that’s kind of a trick, but I digress.)  We flew into Kansas City International Airport, which meant that before driving three-and-a-half long flat hours to Springfield, we were able to stop for some world-class barbeque.  It was tough to choose our spot, but it came down to Oklahoma Joe’s, which Anthony Bourdain called “one of the 13 places to eat before you die,” Jack’s Stack, a chain that Zagat Survey named the “#1 Barbecue House in the Country,” and Arthur Bryant’s, which is, according to Calvin Trillin in 1974, “…possibly the single best restaurant in the world.”  We went with Arthur Bryant’s, because it was most convenient and because I’m a huge Calvin Trillin fan.  (Ed. note:  Trillin spends his summers less than 5 miles from my parents, in Nova Scota.)

As for the food: delicious, but definitely not the best restaurant in the world.  The highlight of the meal was the Beef Sandwich, which was a mountainous stack of fatty smoked brisket piled on pieces of white bread that were clearly overmatched by the meat’s juices.  There were several choices of sauce, all varieties of the classic molasses- and tomato-based sauce Kansas City is known for. The rib tips were fairly charred, but the tender pieces of meat hidden beneath the blackened crusts were smoky and sweet.  We also had a pork sandwich that was decent, but not memorable.

The restaurant itself was charmingly simple.  A big, brick building in a dodgy neighborhood.  The interior walls are unevenly covered in a smattering of local sports images, collages of prominent African-American public figures, and autographed photographs of celebrities and politicians.  Among the most prominent of the latter category were photographs of Jimmy Carter eating with Arthur Bryant himself, as well as a series of images of John McCain and Sarah Palin enjoying a meal with-the-people while campaigning in 2008.  I’d say that speaks to the universal appeal of the place, but who knows.

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Written by trencherman

September 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Restaurants

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