RE: Trip Report- Chicago to Fort Worth and back
Tue, 12/2/03 3:39 PM
On Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner at the RENAISSANCE WORTHINGTON in downtown Ft. Worth. There were 4 adults and 5 kids between the ages of 2 and 9, menaing that we were in a zone defense. People were addressed in attire from baseball caps to coats and ties.
I am not a huge turkey fan to start with. However, I've had many good Thanksgiving dinners. My mother-in-law is a gourmet cook (she did most of her big spreads in the 70's and 80's) and has actually been in a couple of magazines, so I have some idea of what a good Thanksgiving dinner is, I hope.
The dinner at the Worthington was the best Thanksgiving dinner that I have ever had. Dinner came on a plate with the following: Turkey, smoked ham, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a healthy dollop of cranberry sauce on top. The turkey was tender and juicy, the ham rich and smoky with no fat to cut around, and had a nice crusted meaty edge to it. I don't like green beans, but whatever they were made with, they were excellent. The sweet potatoes chunks were housed in a somewhat crunchy coating of brown sugar and spice, with a buttery soft center. The mashed potatoes were fluffy and herbed, and the gravy was a peppery sauce with bits of white meat turkey in it. On top, the cranberry sauce was citrusy and delivered a kick. Top notch. Dessert was nothing great, but at that point, who cared.
Had a few beers at the hotel bar that night and got hungry later on. Turns out that there is a WHATTABURGER within walking distance of the hotel (Embassy Suites, Grapevine, TX).
Whattaburger makes a good fast-food burger. I'd put it on a par just below In-and-Out.
On Friday we went to MI COCINA, a local chain that isn't "roadfoodworthy". Good pork tamales and margarita's, which later led to more beer at the hotel bar with a friend, weakened inhibitions, and another late night run to Whattaburger.
On Saturday we headed North towards KC. I tried out this southwestern chain in Wichita called Braum's, and had a yecchy burger and a bad malt. My stomach felt crappy from the burger for the rest of the ride up to KC. We arrived in KC at 8:30 p.m., and headed to STROUD'S(the Manor House) for fried chicken. Like so many have said, it was the best that my wife and I have had. Homemade salad dressings and excellent chicken noodle soup. Chicken breasts the size of Patrick Swayze's head, and for the kids, deep-fried chicken fingers the size of a fist. Great potatoes and gravy, too. We brought plenty of leftovers back to the hotel.
I got sick that night, from what I suspect was the Braum's burger. In the morning, I tore back into the leftover chicken with a vengeance. Chicken, it's what's for breakfast.
On Sunday, we headed to Des Moines for our next stop, GEORGE THE CHILI KING, an old drive in with a cafe inside the main part. I had read that people either love or hate the chili there. I loved it and hated it. It tastes great on a coney dog (they make it with chili, onions, and pickle slices; no cheese) but tastes and has the texture of emulsified vomit when alone or on top of overcooked melting macaroni. Tried a fried tenderloin sandwich for the first time, with pickles and mustard, and thought it was good, albeit greasy. My kids had burgers, which were thin little patties on a smashed down bun. I thought they were great for drive-inn burgers. For some reason, they tasted to me like I always envisioned one of Wimpy's hamburgers tasting on the old Popeye cartoons.
Our final stop was to be the WILTON CANDY KITCHEN, in Wilton, Iowa. Unfortunately, it was closed.
If you are ever in the Fort Worth DFW Airport area, I highly recommend the Embassy Suites/Outdoor World in Grapevine, TX. The pool was open until midnight, it was great for kids, and had one of the largest Bass Pro Shops in the country adjoining it (if that's your bag). The service was excellent, and the complimentary breakfasts were complete with Krispy Kreme donuts and an omelet station.
If you are in Kansas City, do not stay at the Doubletree downtown on Wyandotte Avenue. Poor service, as well as security concerns made it an uncomfortable stay.
A few final things:
-I noted that people in the Southwest, as opposed to the Midwest, take great pride in their side dishes. Up here, for the most part, sides are an afterthought. In the Southwest, especially TX, the sides are every bit as important as the main course.
-Fried food is good. I haven't had too much fried food in the past several years, and it was good to have good fried food. I only put on one pound during the trip, but I also lift weights three days a week and run 4-6 miles or swim three days per week. Otherwise, it might have been a different story.
-Ice cold beer is good, especially after traveling with three kids.
-I've noticed that the drive goes a lot quicker when you have destinations planned out. I have to say that Mapquest worked flawlessly on this trip, which isn't always the case.
My next food trip is a short one, from Chicago to Green Bay for the Bears game this weekend. I'll probably stop at Kopp's or Solly's for a butter-burger, two places that I've never tried.