Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lambert's Cafe

One of the places I was really excited about re-visiting while we made our pilgrimage to the coast was Lambert's Cafe. You know, the place where they throw the rolls at you?

It's a neat place, but it definitely has a "herd" mentality about it. Everything is about quantity. Don't get me wrong, quantity is a great thing at times, but there really can be too much of a good thing.

The atmosphere is very laid back. I mean, it kind of has to be when part of your dinner comes flying through the air. A big part of the whole experience is the attitude and the energy. There is a lot more of this when they are busier. This is also one of those places that is actually a lot more fun the more people you have with you. Jeff and I were there with just the two of us for a late lunch. It was nice because we didn't have to wait but lacked a bit of the charm that the experience has had for me in the past. I have dined both at lunch and dinner in the past and I definitely enjoy dinner more!

The food itself is very good. Definitely "home cooking" and all you can eat! The menu selection isn't huge, but it's definitely varied enough to keep things interesting. I ordered the country fried steak which came with mashed potatoes and cream gravy along with a baked sweet potato and fried apples. Jeff got a hamburger steak with mushrooms, onions, and brown gravy along with mashed potatoes and green beans. Both were the same price ($11.95 I think) but mine was definitely the better deal. My steak became lovingly known as the "deep fried frisbee" because it was roughly the size of a salad plate. It hung off the edge of my plate even after being partially buried under my other food as well. Definitely good, but I could hardly eat half. Of course we can't forget the "pass-arounds" that the servers bring around to any and everyone. There was macaroni with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, boiled cabbage, fried okra, and fried potatoes with onions. And the flying rolls with apple butter and sorghum. We didn't have to snag our rolls like baseballs since they weren't busy and the little cart came around, but they still got flipped to us!

The service was not bad, but definitely not the best I've ever had considering how slow it was. We barely got our rears in our seats before there was a girl at our table ready to start dishing the fried okra to us! Our "real" waiter was pretty quick on getting our drink orders to start with, but we saw a lot less of him than we wanted to! He got our drinks and then disappeared for a long time so it took a while before we were able to order. After we did the food came quickly and he refilled Jeff's tea but not mine! Then, as we were eating he was never seen again! There were lots of folks coming by with "pass arounds" which was nice because there was always more of whatever we wanted, but it took a long time to get a box for my leftovers and our check. I noticed a table near us who came in shortly before we did, and it seemed as though some of our service was put on hold to coincide with theirs (so we got our boxes, checks, etc. at the same time). I don't blame the guy for not wanting to make a ton of extra trips, but we were done a good 10-15 minutes before they were and we were past ready to go!

One thing I have always loved since my very first visit was that, despite the fact that the place is mostly booths, they are pretty wheelchair accessible. Ever since my mom got sick, I really started noticing things like that and it does matter to me a lot more than I ever thought it would. Best of all, the policy of the restaurant is that "if you bring your own chair, you don't have to pay for dinner", which translates to - if you are in a wheelchair, your food is free. This isn't something they really advertise, I suppose to keep people from taking advantage, but it really is a fantastic thing. I think it made my whole family life-long fans, and I'm sure has done the same thing for others.

They don't take credit cards, which to me is a little odd, but they do take checks (which is really rare these days!) and they always have an ATM, so you're pretty well covered. As for the food - it's good. Not especially spectacular in my opinion, but good and plentiful. The one thing I really wish they had that they don't is mac and cheese! Considering the type of food, it's kind of surprising! Like most good southern-ish home cooking places, it's not especially vegetarian friendly. They have plenty of vegetables to choose from, but a lot of them are beans and I believe most of them are cooked with some sort of meat (pork in particular!) For the most part, the staff seem to really enjoy what they do and want to make sure you really enjoy yourself while you're there too!

There are three Lambert's Cafes in the US - Sikeston, MO; Ozark, MO; and Foley, AL. Check one of them out on your next vacation if you haven't already.

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