Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hollandaise With A Twist At Wally Waffle

I find it interesting that the proximity of a restaurant doesn't always dictate how often one visits. The last time I wrote about Wally Waffle was actually the last time I had eaten there. For some inexplicable reason when I got up this morning, I just accepted the fact that it was time to return for another meal. With the restaurant being only a mile or so from my house, I'm not sure why I don't return more often. I suppose it is a lot like the high school and college friends who we keep in touch with maybe twice a year. Most of the time you just don't think about them and then every six months or so, you scratch your head and think, "I wonder what John is up to?"

Having gotten up fairly late today, I decided to minimize the inevitable waiting and go for a late lunch. I arrived at the Tallmadge location to find the restaurant only half full. After taking a small table near the back of the restaurant, my server brought me the menu, a glass of water, and the cup of decaffeinated coffee for which I had asked:

While I wouldn't consider Wally Waffle's coffee exceptional, it did do its part to help fully wake me up. Normally I'd give you a couple of menu photos, but unfortunately, the lighting where I was sitting was rather dim and even with the help of the Picasa photo editor I use to make the photographs I take blog-worthy, I was afraid that the menu simply wouldn't be legible. In its place, however, I decided to return to the earlier days on my blog and give you a shot of the condiment station that appears on every table:

My order at Wally Waffle normally consists of the oat bran waffle and a side of bacon, extra crispy. However, just like last time, I decided to deviate from that path and try something else. In all of the times I've eaten at the restaurant, I've never tried any of their non-breakfast offerings. While the 1/3 pound Angus burger looked pretty darn good, I wasn't really in a burger kind of mood. Instead, as I perused the omelettes available, I noticed that Wally's has a signature omelet made with broccoli and swiss cheese that was covered in a hollandaise sauce. Eureka! I guess it was to be breakfast after all.

After a short wait, my server delivered my omelet platter, complete with a side of grits and buttered rye toast:

Here was a close-up of the broccoli and cheese omelet:

I tasted the hollandaise sauce first, by itself and I'll talk more about that in a moment. The omelet was studded with broccoli florets and the swiss cheese oozed around the little nuggets of green. The eggs were fluffy and tender and had just the right level of salt to them. While the broccoli was definitely cooked, it still retained a bit of firmness so that taking a proper bite gave me a variety of textures to experience. Overall, I'd say it was a very nicely cooked omelet. Returning to the hollandaise, when I first tasted it, I thought the cheese had been placed on top of the omelet, directly underneath the hollandaise. I was expecting that glorious combination of egg yolks and butter, but instead was greeted with something different. The depth of flavor I was getting from the sauce felt much more savory than a traditional sauce.

Now curious about what was happening with this hollandaise, I decided to investigate further. After taking another taste, I realized that the flavor I was experiencing wasn't from the cheese but instead from the addition of chicken base. I rolled the sauce over my entire tongue trying to hit as many of the different taste buds as I could. Honestly, the sauce tasted like a cross between chicken gravy and a more traditional hollandaise. The sauce was seasoned perfectly and I imagine that the salty chicken base probably went a long way to accomplishing that task. The problem, as I saw it was that for me, every time I took a bite of my omelet with sauce on top, I got nothing but the chicken flavor. The delicate flavors from the eggs, cheese and broccoli were somewhat lost.

When I finally asked my server about the hollandaise, she told me that the sauce was made every day from scratch and that she believed the cook was indeed adding chicken base to make it "her own." While I applaud the fact that they are making from-scratch hollandaise sauce and the fact that the cook was trying to put her spin on a classic, in this case, it just didn't work for me. As a sauce for a chicken breast, this would've been perfect.

Here was a close-up shot of the bowl of grits that came with the platter:

These were consistent with grits that I've found at other local Ohio eateries. The problem I have with grits around this part of Ohio is that they are never seasoned. At all. If these were cheesy grits, I would expect them to be seasoned. Part of my problem with unseasoned grits is that it is such a stark contrast to the rest of the meal. I'm not looking for them to be salty, per se, just seasoned enough so that the natural corn flavor stands out. If any of my gentle readers out there know how plain grits are properly prepared and served in the South, please leave me a comment and explain how they should be correctly served.

[Ed. Note: When I wrote the above paragraph, it was before I had consulted a number of friends who have eaten or cooked plain grits from the South. Apparently, plain grits are exactly that, ground corn meal cooked in water. However, in wanting to understand this epicurean phenomenon even better, I'd love to hear from my Southern (or displaced Southern) gentle readers out there who can shed some light on this. Why aren't plain grits seasoned, even just a little bit?]

Fortunately, with the help of the salt and peppers shakers and this bottle of Frank's Red Hot,

I managed to give the grits some character. Overall the texture was fine, although it was a tad bit lumpy in spots. When I first opened the bottle of Frank's, I was immediately transported back to my college days. The smell alone was enough to remind me of the hot wings at The Euclid Tavern. Good times, good times.

Finally, a shot of the rye toast:

This was decent enough but was nowhere as flavorful and tasty as the toast I had eaten at my last Big Egg experience. Paired with some of the Smucker's strawberry jam from the condiment caddy, this satisfied my need for something a little sweet and a little crunchy.

Overall, I'd say that this visit to Wally Waffle was as consistent as my others. For the most part, Wally Waffle continues to deliver interesting and tasty versions of classic diner fare for a modest price. Every now and then they will falter, but fortunately it isn't very often.

Wally Waffle on Urbanspoon


Liz said...

My understanding of grits has always been that some like them sweet (with butter and syrup) and some like them savory (with butter and/or cheese and salt). I believe, from trips to the esteemed Waffle House, which I think of as distinctly Southern, they ask if you want butter on your grits but then leave it to you to either go sweet or savory.

Next time I visit Waffle House, I will pay more attention! :)

Anonymous said...

The wally fries are the best! I wish they would bring back the original veggie omelet with provolone and spinach.

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