By Gabrielle Madewell, Contributing Writer
Photo: G. Madewell, google.com
The first thought someone has walking into a restaurant attached to a gas station/truck stop is not “wow, this is going to be a snazzy meal.” Realistically, they are looking for a cheap and fast meal that is filling and only mostly edible. Surprisingly enough, Huddle House, located in Mascoutah, IL, offers more than just a quick, cheap bite that makes you think “why am I like this” as you get up to re-button your jeans and leave. Huddle house offers a place to sit down for some cost efficient, hearty diner food. Which is always refreshing versus the classic ‘order from a fast food restaurant and ungracefully scarf it down in the parking lot’ meal we are all guilty of. Huddle House offers the best of both worlds: the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of a Denny’s and the unbeatable price of a McDonald’s.
When you walk in, the staff, welcomes you with a quick glance and one of those odd gestures, translating to “I don’t give a f*** where you sit,” which in all honesty is better than having to put your name on some god forbidden list. The staff is ready to take any beverage or food orders in the first 8.4 seconds of being seated, so luckily, you are waiting about 10 minutes tops to get your meal. The facility is cleaner than one would expect it to be for being connected to a gas station. They strangely enough always seem to have at least one elderly person in their facility, as if they have to meet some quota. The booming elderly crowd thankfully seems to deeply enjoy sitting at tables over booths, meaning you will never be forced to sit at a table (you are allowed to internally cheer here).
The “Southern Biscuit Platters” section of the menu is exactly what it sounds like: biscuits and gravy, but way effin’ cooler. The “Chicken & Bacon Knife & Fork Biscuit Platter” consists of one, semi-dry biscuit, nestling in a small piece of fried chicken, bacon, a single cooked-to-order egg and finally, topped off with a heaping of gravy. At this point you are probably thinking, “wow, that sounds slightly insane but also straight up ‘merican,” and trust me, you are not wrong. Served with a side of crisp and salty hash browns, this rightfully named platter only costs $6.79. While it is not the flakiest biscuit, nor the most mouth watering gravy, and definitely not the juiciest piece of chicken you have ever eaten– it is only a little over six dollars and is very much worth every penny, quarter, or FAFSA refund you use to buy it.
If you are one of those ~healthy~ eaters who genuinely enjoys eating fruit at breakfast (or if you are one of those people who force yourself to eat a carrot because you think it makes you look healthier) the Huddle House is not the place for you, unless you enjoy eating side salads at 10 in the morning. If you are one of those ~I don’t give 2 f’s what I put inside of my body~ eaters, also known as most young adults, you will be happy to learn the Huddle House has an Oreo Cookie Crunch pancake which tastes exactly what it sounds like: insanity. The Oreo Cookie Crunch pancake, which is rightfully spotlighted on their menu, contains crushed up oreos, and is topped with a chocolate drizzle and a thick line of whipped cream. For only $5.99, the Oreo pancake will send you into an out of body experience inside of a sweet and rich galaxy of magic happiness filled with laughter and tranquility and harmony… Not really; but I mean, who does not love a hot pancake filled with smooshed up Oreos, it is genius and it works for me.
As for their beverages, they are beverages, it is not about them. But in all honesty, their coffee could be called “steaming hot bean water” because it seems to always taste as if it was made 35 years ago and then heated up in the microwave. But hey, at least they have Pepsi products, or if you are feeling really crazy, some extra-chocolatey chocolate milk that sends you right back to being 6 and watching Scooby Doo and loving life. But if you are super on a budget and you have no idea why you are even showing your face in public with this much debt, you could stop by the McDonald’s on the way and bring your own drink for a dollar because who is really going to stop you at a Denny’s knock-off attached to a gas station.
In retrospect, is this place as good as a Denny’s: definitely not. But, it is a lot cheaper and a lot faster than a Denny’s, which counts for something on the totem pole of breakfast restaurants. Sure, you will have to swallow a little pride walking into a truck stop diner, but that is nothing compared to the copious amounts of biscuits and gravy you are about to devour. Next time Sunday morning rolls around and you have to remember how to ‘person’ again, the Huddle House will be there to welcome you with open arms, a nice comfy booth, a hot cup of inexpensive bean water, and a nice elderly person to give you a mean glare as you walk in with shades on and your hood up.