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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Morning Wake-Up: Stroud's Diner

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 7:10 AM

BIG BREAKFAST:  Strouds Diner serves up huge portions.
  • Kat Robinson
  • BIG BREAKFAST: Stroud's Diner serves up huge portions.
I have passed by Stroud’s Diner so many times over the years. The unassuming building off I-40 at Highway 89 and Highway 365 is always surrounded by cars, except when it’s closed. Indeed, I’ve passed it by many times because parking looked doubtful.

But I decided the other morning it would be worth it just to see if the place was that good. So I pulled off the interstate, scoured the parking lot and finally found a spot where I could pull in.

Inside, the booths and tables were just as packed as the parking lot. There wasn’t a spare table in the house. I waited for a few before I sat, twice being told I could sit where I liked (where?). While I waited I watched the bustle of the kitchen through the order window, which was packed with plates on their way to tables. There was a pie board up listing the day’s offerings, which included Strawberry Icebox, Chocolate Cream and Pecan.

I finally found a booth available in the back room, which was packed as well. One of the waitresses came over and took my coffee order, then disappeared. The coffee magically appeared on its own (okay, maybe not, but my waitress was so fast I barely saw her) and I sat and enjoyed it while watching the crowd.

A few minutes later, my order taken, I saw one young girl come through the entryway bearing five plates on one arm, including the 2x4 Breakfast Special ($6.99) — two eggs, two pancakes and two strips of bacon (sausage is also an option, but I almost universally saw bacon). The pancakes are 10” plate size golden rounds, and they are fragrant enough to turn heads. Well, my head, anyway.

I saw other items flash by. Steak breakfast plates with inch thick slabs of beef on them. Scrambled eggs. More biscuits and gravy plates than I’ve seen in a long time. There were a lot of them..

But as I said, there were a lot of people in the place. Stroud’s was packed out and service had slowed down because of it, the two waitresses I witnessed handling orders just swamped with getting them out. At one point a gentleman wearing camouflage and a very unusual moustache came by and offered me coffee. He’d decided to pitch in a little so the girls could work on getting orders out.

Even though it took a while to get my food, I took it in stride. After all, you don’t drive up to a place that has about 50 cars parked in its lot and around those parts and expect immediate service. I’d seen the sole cook at the griddle when I was waiting to sit down, and I figured it would be a while. It’s all right.

Finally, my food arrived. I’d ordered the Western Omelet ($7.99 — $6.99 if you choose ham and sausage instead of chicken) and was greeted with a very large plate of food. The omelet was at least a three egger — maybe a four egger at that — a rolled flat-egg omelet that sprawled across the plate. It was fat, too — due to the large amount of food packed within. Yes, it was a good deal, about an entire breast’s worth of chopped grilled chicken paired with a sparse handful of green bell peppers and onion bits. The entire inside of the omelet was packed with oozy American cheese, an almost unreasonably large amount of said cheese, and it glued everything loosely together within its egg wrapper.

The hash browns appeared to be a rather small portion until I moved the biscuits and the gravy off the plate and discovered they continued under both, taking up a full half of the platter. They weren’t crispy; instead, they were mashed potato soft and extraordinarily buttery, probably not what my cholesterol needed but tasty nonetheless. With a little ketchup they did the job.

The biscuits were large and fluffy, and the gravy was simple white cream gravy, a pairing I was very comfortable with. The portions had not been skimped on at all, and though I was hungry as a bear I still couldn’t finish it all. It was a substantial amount of food.

I’m not sure whether you ever get a ticket there… my waitress told me to just go up front and tell the cashier what I had ordered. I will say this, though — even with a $2 tip it was less than $11 for my breakfast. And it stuck with me throughout the day.

I’d been there a total of an hour and a half. It was 10:30ish by the time I left and the lot was still full, though the spill-over onto the lot next door had waned a bit. I think I’ll have to go back and try the catfish.

Stroud’s is open every day at 5:30 a.m. It’s open until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and until 2 p.m. Saturday through Monday. (501) 470-9828.

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