William Snesrud of CrossDove Writers

While my wife and I do not eat out anywhere near like we have in the past, when you take a road trip or a get-a-way weekend – you just do not have that choice.

Funny how when we do go somewhere we still end up eating at places we feel familiar with or are close to it.

Take recently when we took a weekend road trip to Kansas City to visit the American Jazz Museum, the Negro League Baseball Museum, the Sea Life Aquarium and the Crown Plaza – we ate out every meal for three days.

Of course, one of the mornings was the hot breakfast at the Quality Inn we stayed at, and I have discussed that a bit in another blog (Letters Unstamped) I write. While they had a nice variety with waffles, biscuits & gravy, scrambles eggs, sausage links & patties, hash browns, cereal, oatmeal, muffins, fruit, bagels, toast, orange juice, coffee, milk and all – I can’t say it was that good. My biscuits for the biscuits & gravy were not rock hard but solid, while the gravy was very watery which took away from any sausage and seasoning taste. The scrambled eggs were little squares which I’m sure came that shape frozen and just got warmed up (I know this because of 20+ years in the food service business) and left out with no seasoning at all. Hash browns were fair, milk was milk – it was cold, and the sausage links were not too bad, tasty and not real greasy. Overall score of maybe a 5 out of 10.

On the way to Kansas City we had lunch at a Perkins and then a late dinner at a Denny’s near the hotel. Both the Perkins and the Denny’s were just as we expected, good solid American style food without any fancy stuff and enough on the plate to fill you up plus some. Now the Denny’s seemed to be a person or maybe two people short on staff, but the guy who waited on us made sure we were aware of it and apologized for it.

Of course, when I eat out, due to my previous life of running food service businesses I can and will be more critical than others – but both the Denny’s and the Perkins did just fine and we walked away feeling full, satisfied and ready to give them both a score of maybe 8 out of 10 with recommendations to others if asked.

Saturday, we stepped up a bit just for pizza by eating at Milano’s in the Crown Plaza. Basically, a fancy pizza place to us, as they had cloth napkins which to me was questionable since you have all that pasta and pizza sauce being splattered – they must have an outstanding cleaner. We ordered a brick fired pizza which was okay, but not as mouth watering as I was hoping. Actually, the best item we had was the two huge meatballs as an appetizer, if I had tasted them first we might not have had the pizza as I could’ve devoured a bunch of them meatballs, sauce and crispy briquettes.  For Milano’s, I was thinking an 8 out of 10 despite the pizza not being as good as I was expecting, but the meatballs made up for that and the décor and fancier atmosphere covered the rest. Would I recommend others to try it – absolutely.

For supper Saturday we had been hoping to return to downtown Kansas City to the Blue Room by the American Jazz Museum to hear Ida McBeth, but due to a health issue that struck me as we were leaving the Crown Plaza, we instead ran the main strip through Merriam by the hotel to see what we could find for a good evening meal.

Then, almost hidden by parked cars and their low stature business sign I saw it – one of my most favorite casual fast food restaurants ever and one I have been missing since the two closest to where we live have both closed.

FAZOLI’S!! Much to my pleasure, Fazoli’s has gone back to a much better, meatier lasagna while keeping their beloved (by me at least) endless garlic buttered bread sticks. Having worked for Fazoli’s for several years I knew the place and knew what to look for in the food and servings – they did good, possible the best Fazoli’s food I have had in several years (since it’s been that long since I hit the one an hour away from home in Wichita), and we walked to the car very full, very satisfied and ready for a quiet evening in our room at the hotel. Guess what, Fazoli’s got a 9 out of 10 rating from us – which is good as I pretty much never give a place a 10.

Since we were both just shattered by the poor hot breakfast at the hotel, the wife grabbed a coffee on the way out and we checked out of the hotel on Sunday and moved on down the highway until we found an IHop.

You really can’t go wrong with an IHop and this one was very busy, but we did get in quicker than others since it was just the two of us and they had a series of two people tables. There must have been some kind of youth softball tournament going on nearby as the families or groups eating were filled with kids in various uniforms ready to hit the field.

With IHop, like most of the others we stopped at – you can normally count on a good meal at a reasonable price while getting decent service in the process. Since they were busy, I expected the wait person to be zipping by and not always checking on us, but she did find time to get the job done as I would expect. With a good meal, good service despite the business – that IHop also got an 8 out of 10.

We finished up our little get-a-way by swinging off our route home long enough to surprise our oldest grandson as he worked at a Sonic in Osage City!! While we both just got a slushie and a shake, plus I had tater tots to munch on, it was worth the extra time and miles to see the big smile on his face when we pulled in. Best thing was, we left with a tummy full of pride for having such a great kid for a grandson. No rating here as it would be just too prejudicial.

So, there you have it, a lengthier than expected run through eating on the road with my personal grades and all. Now back to the home kitchen and some of Papa Bill’s own cooking.

With that – hugs, prayers, blessings & happy thoughts from Grumpy Gramps

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