Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not-So-Broasted Chicken At Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen

Sometimes you get in the mood for a particular food and until you satisfy that craving, you just endlessly obsess about it. I must have been watching a show on television that featured fried chicken, because I suddenly realized that it had been an extremely long time since I had eaten it and probably even longer since I had eaten a good piece of fried chicken. Deciding that I would solicit the advice of my Facebook friends, I posed the following question: "Tom J. Noe is in search of REALLY good fried chicken tomorrow. Any suggestions?"

While I received a myriad of responses, one stuck out above the rest. I'm not exactly sure why, but when my friend Liz suggested Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen out of Mt. Hope, Ohio, I felt compelled to learn more. The link that Liz gave me led me here and from here, I found the actual website for the restaurant. While the fact that the restaurant has a website was a great idea, for whatever reason they don't list their street address. However, through a bit of digging, I discovered that they were located at 8101 State Route 241, Mt. Hope, OH 44660 and can be reached at 330-674-0922.

Mount Hope was a small town, and once I rounded the corner to continue on Route 241, I noticed the sign for Mrs. Yoder's on the right side of the road:

As I pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant, I realized that one of the side benefits from driving all this way from Akron were the unparalleled vistas that were apparent in every direction:

While I stood there in the late afternoon sun reveling in the beautiful countryside scene and the gentle zephyr ever-so-slightly tussling my hair, my rumbling stomach reminded me of the real reason for my visit today. I walked around to the front of the building, entered, and was fortuitously seated at a table right by a window. While I had expected my hostess to hand me a menu, when I looked down at the table, I realized that my place mat was actually the menu. This was very similar to my trip to Hartville Kitchen.

Due to the size of the placement, I decided to break the menu into three separate photographs:

After taking my drink order, my server asked if I would prefer some of Mrs. Yoder's homemade white or whole wheat bread. I asked me to bring me her favorite and within a few minutes, this appeared on my table as well as my requested glass of water:

There was nothing particularly revelatory about this slice of bread, but it was very fresh, had a lovely crust and crumb and reminded me of the bread served at Das Dutch Kitchen. The white bread had a varnished look to the crust and with one sniff I could tell that the loaves had been brushed with milk before being baked. A taste confirmed my suspicion. While I didn't use any of the tubs of butter also present in the basket, I couldn't help but use some of the tableside condiments with which I have grown familiar at other Amish eateries:

Of course, what the sign should say is "Homemade Apple Butter And Amish Peanut Butter." Regardless, I used my slice of white bread as a platform for tasting the peanut and apple butters. Both were quite tasty and made a delicious spread. Both reminded me of the exact same condiments at Das Dutch.

For my dinner, I decided to go with the "broasted" chicken, breast and wing. Although I have erroneously used the word broasting in the past to describe fried chicken, broasting is actually a trademarked process of marination and pressure frying sold and licensed by the Broaster Company of Beloit, WI. While the menu at Mrs. Yoder's definitely said "Broasted Chicken," when I went to the Broaster Company's store locator page and put in 44660 for the zipcode, Mrs. Yoder's was oddly missing from the list. Just to make sure I dotted all my "i's" and crossed all my "t's," I actually called the restaurant the day after.

After speaking with one of the managers, Seth, I have come to two conclusions. First, as much as the Broaster Company hates it, the term "broasting" is more associated with the pressure frying method than the company itself. Second, while Mrs. Yoder's Restaurant (and many other local restaurants) may have been calling it broasting for decades because of the particular cooking technique, technically it wasn't. Had they called it "pressure-fried chicken," there wouldn't be an issue. I suppose calling it broasted instead removes the word "fried" and makes it sound healthier.

Whatever you decide to call it, my dinner arrived much more quickly than I had anticipated:

With my breast and wing dinner, I was able to select two sides. The first side, as you can see above, was the homemade dressing with gravy. I did enjoy the fact that the plate came adorned with a lone sprig of parsley. While many restaurants have dispensed with this simple garnish, it really does break up a plate of brown well.

Here was a close-up shot of the chicken breast:

Expertly fried, the skin was crispy without being greasy. I normally discard chicken skin, especially if it is flabby, but in this case, I was happy to consume the entire breast, skin and all. The meat was succulent and juicy and seasoned perfectly. I suspect that the on-point seasoning had more to do with the marination process than an expert hand with the salt shaker. The chicken was excellent and to my taste it was on par with the chicken being served at Das Dutch.

After taking a bite of my chicken, I moved on to my first side:

The dressing was a clear winner here, both flavorful and interesting texturally. While most dressings are so moist that the bread cubes used kind of dissolve, this dressing had a combination of textures, from crispy to creamy. The optionally added gravy gave another level of moisture and the seasoning was also nicely done.

For my second side, I picked a seasonal favorite, asparagus:

Technically, this daily special was asparagus with cheese sauce and crumbled bacon. Worried that the delicate flavor of the asparagus would get killed by such assertive flavors, I asked if I could get the asparagus by itself and the cheese sauce served on the side. Happily, the asparagus with cheese sauce was assembled a la minute and it wouldn't be a problem to keep the two flavors separate. The asparagus was steamed just long enough to remove the crunch but not so long as to turn it into mush and drain the gorgeous green color from the stalks. The kitchen staff has helpfully added a pinch of salt to the top of the dish, but after eating my way down, I had to add just a touch of salt to keep things tasting good.

I tried the cheese sauce by itself

and was happy to discover that the cheddar flavor was quite mild. That being said, when I dipped some of the asparagus into the cheese sauce, I quickly came to the conclusion that I had been right to keep the two separate: the cheese sauce overpowered the delicate flavor of the asparagus. I suppose if you are eating the asparagus not because you like the flavor, but because its a healthy green vegetable, application of the cheese sauce will be a no-brainer. I happen to be one of those people who love the flavor of asparagus, so I would opt to skip it if possible.

Overall, I'd say that I had a very good meal at Mrs. Yoder's Restaurant. Is it worth the drive from Akron, Ohio? If I was in the area already, I'd say yes. But since I can get almost identical flavors much closer to where I live, I'll say no. It wasn't because the food or service was bad or their use of the term "broasted." It's more a matter of how much gas it takes to get me from my house to the restaurant and back. I should also mention that for those going for lunch or dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, they have an all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Liz said...

I have been nervously awaiting this review - I'm so glad (and relieved) to see that you enjoyed Mrs. Yoder's. I would have hated to lose my street cred. :)

I've purposely not looked up the ingredients for those Amish Peanut Butter spreads, as I'm assuming I could no longer enjoy them at that point with a clear conscience. So tasty, yet (I assume) so bad!

Tino said...

@Liz: No worries, all is well with your street cred. There have been a couple cases where a restaurant has failed to live up to the reputation which preceded it, but fortunately those are rare indeed. I do actually feel bad when I have to give a suggested restaurant a not-so-great review, but sometimes restaurants changes owners or management or chefs and things can become better or worse.

I agree with you on the peanut butter sauces, they are certainly delicious. I would hope that being made locally, they are using natural products.

Sam said...

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS post. Great blog. Love this, I'm stalking errr, I mean following you .. keri a.k.a. Sam

Tino said...

@Sam, stalk away! And brings friends. The more, the merrier. :)

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