Friday, November 21, 2008
Eatin' on a Jet Plane...
Well, technically, it was in an airport and sort of looking at jet planes...that were really small 2- and 4-seater planes, and it was night, so I couldn't really see them that well, but I needed a good title!! (Maybe, I should subtitle with "On the Great Plains," since I was in Kansas this week.)
Airport and good food are not usually synonymous...most of the time, airport food is just chain food at twice the price. It's greasy and generally bad for you; there's the occasional kiosk of exception that has salad and fruit, but who really wants to balance a plastic clamshell of salad on their teeny tiny tray table? Plus, we can always tell ourselves that the calories don't count while on business trips. (As you can see, I lie to myself a lot...a whole, whole, lot.)
So, imagine my surprise when I show up in this little Kansas town, and the clerk at the Hampton Inn front desk tells me that "the Airport Steakhouse is really good."
Airport? Steakhouse? Steakhouse in the airport? The little municipal airport that I did not fly into, because there wasn't service to it, so I had to fly into Wichita and drive for an hour, that airport? The one that looks like it could have been a set for Wings--the airport where everybody knows your name? Yep, that airport.
From the outside, it doesn't look like much--the basic 60s-70s square building architecture, but inside was a whole 'nother story. It's going to sound stupid, but the Airport Steakhouse is a real restaurant--not just a lunch counter-type of place, or a place to get a $100 hamburger. I knew it was something completely different as I walked in the door and saw the specials board. Anything with the phrase "port wine reduction" in the entree description is not just another greasy spoon. With soft lighting, mod decor, and a bar...it was like going into a Crown Room or other oasis of calm and quiet (and free drinks) in many an airport...although, drinks were not free here.
The Airport Steakhouse doesn't have a website that I can find, but you can see their menu here. I had the KC Strip (am in Kansas...should do as the natives do, right?), which was flavorful, if a tad overdone...I think my waitress wrote down "medium" rather than "medium rare," but I was hungry and it tasted good, so I didn't bother sending it back. Had a lovely little banana cream pie for dessert--homemade, of course. (BTW, a Kansas City Strip and a New York Strip are virtually the same strip...sometimes, the KC has the bone left on, sometimes not.)
For lunch one day, the customer took me to Roy's Hickory Pit BBQ, a local joint...pretty darn close to a shack, since it was located in what looked to be an old house. The sign on front window sort of summed up the restaurant's philosophy: "Hours from 11-3 or until the food is gone." "Until the food is gone" pretty much says it all. I'm betting that the food is always gone, and they never have to worry about leftovers. I had chopped pork with a little ladle of slightly sweet sauce between two enormous pieces of buttery grilled Texas toast. I know this is weird, but that Texas toast was divine...probably a result of all the butter, but I'm not being picky. (Personally, I think Texas toast is a fine and wonderful thing and the perfect vehicle to make grilled cheese with...you can load on several slices of cheese to get a good bread to cheese ratio, and it comes out nice and golden. And, it's bigger, as everything is in Texas, and who doesn't like a bigger grilled cheese? : )
I also visited the Cosmosphere, which is an interesting little find. A space museum...in Kansas of all places. With IMAX. So, I had to go and see how it stacked up to the Rocket City one. Smaller, but with tons of stuff about the Germans that I don't remember seeing in ours, but I've not been in years. Plus, they put their SR-71 Blackbird inside the building...we left ours outside in the elements. Is that any way to treat a gift from the government? And, the Cosmosphere had a bunch of Russian space hardware that I've not seen before...a moon buggy-type of vehicle and some other things. Worth the walkthrough if you're a space buff. But, I'd advise staying away from the freeze-dried "astronaut food" in the gift shop...always stay away from that! Seriously, according to the blurb about the freeze-dried ice cream, " Freeze drying removes 98% of the original water content, which gives the ice cream a three-year shelf life. In addition to ice cream, Astronaut foods also feature a line of freeze-dried fruits: strawberries, bananas, peaches, cinnamon apples, and a Fruit & Nut mix that was originally designed for the Apollo Space Missions."
Do you really want to eat ice cream with a 3-year shelf life? I rest my case.
I'm home for awhile, and I got a new all soup cookbook that I'm going to delve into in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for some cozy comfort food.