Dave

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Trip Report: St. Hedwig, Adkins, China Grove and the Iron Skillet...

You may have gathered that my wife and I enjoy an occasional drive out and around just to see what we can see. I sat around today researching the perfect short little trip so we could get out for the afternoon and maybe catch a bite to eat and shop at a different HEB from our usual three. Well, we got out alright, but things just didn't go as I had planned.There are two small towns just east of San Antonio called St. Hedwig and Adkins. Both are apparently nothing more than the intersections of farm to market roads, but I find places like these to be very interesting. As I have mentioned before, San Antonio is situated such, that in any direction, you can be out in the middle of the boonies in no time.I knew there was at least one or two things worth seeing in St. Hedwig. We pulled into this pace just because I like the name, Lubianski - Food Feed and Fun! How can you go wrong there? Well, we didn't actually go inside, so I guess we'll never know. A little further down the road was this beautiful church that could be seen from a great distance. What we didn't know was that as I was pulling in, there was a bride just getting ready to enter the church. In fact, she actually stopped for a second thinking that possibly we were late arrivals to the wedding. When I sped out of the parking lot - the internationally accepted sign of, no, I'm not going to marry you, she went ahead with the the original plan. I trust anyway.As is often the case when we visit small towns, my wife sees a house or a piece of land that gets her in the mood to win the lottery and give up our fabulous existence in Silver Creek 78250, and move off onto a plantation or something, ala Chevy Chase in Funny Farm or Fletch Lives (your choice). She spotted this gem and I have to admit, it sure would be fabulous until we had to mow the yard or clean the place.Now town is complete without a modern new Post Office, and St Hedwig has one. Proof.I had a list of two or three different restaurants for us to choose from so we could grab a bite, but as we drove through the winding country roads, the few that we passed were well past us when we realized it. So on we went to Adkins, just a short drive away and when we stumbled upon Texas Pride Barbecue. Our lips began smacking immediately.Sadly, when I whipped the van into the parking lot, it was clear that we were either too late for lunch, too early for dinner, or say it isn't so, closed for the holidays. But, it was neat to look at. From outside. Hungry. Another time I suppose.We headed down Hiway 87 back toward San Antonio and I took a quick picture of the China Grove sign. You know, a lot of people wonder about that old Doobie Brothers song - well there really is a sleepy little town, down around San Antonio.So, no trip is complete unless we get some vittles and it just so happened that we weren't far from I-10 and a string of large truck stops. Several years ago, we had stopped at an Iron Skillet, a restaurant tied to a truck stop there, and we enjoyed some great steaks there. We figured the Iron Skillet wouldn't take off for the holidays, what with all the truckers still needing gas... or diesel as it were.
We headed in and took a look at the menu and I opted to go for the chicken fried steak. With great memories of our last visit, my wife ordered a 7 ounce steak that was on special. Both come with a side and a trip to the soup and salad bar.
You quickly get the gimmick of the name, Iron Skillet, when you retrieve your salad plate from the warmer. It really is an iron skillet. The weird thing is, usually, salad plates are kept cold so your salad will be crisp and cool. These plates were warm to the touch. Who cares?I don't want to gross you out with my licked clean skillet, but does it look like rust on there?As we were eating our salads and trying a little taste of the vegetable soup (that was nasty), I saw this man up at the salad bar. In case you can't read the shirt, it says, "If God don't want me chasin' big women, then why'd He make 'em so slow?" Nothing but the finest clientel in the places I take my wife.We had an absolutely fantastic waitress who was probably the manager or at least the manager of the section. She was the type of gal you hope to get anytime you go out. Fast, witty, nice and engaging, but not too over the top. Like, at no time did she say, "Kiss my grits" or anything. She brought us our food and my chicken fried steak was outstanding! I even ate the little orange slice.My wife was so excited to get her steak - her mouth seemed to be watering at the sight of it (sorry, I didn't catch any drooling on film). But it only took about a bite for her to get that awkward look on her face. She asked me how my chicken fried steak was, and I said, Great! Then I asked her how her steak was. She poked a forkful in my face and asked me to try it. Clearly, there was an issue. I immediately started thinking Mad Cow. My wife has a little more experience in these matters and suggested it may have been freezer burn.

As we discussed this, our waitress sensed there was a problem and came by to ask how things were. Please keep in mind, I never, repeat NEVER send anything back because you know the drill; boogers, spit, around the world, anything is possible back in the kitchen. I quickly said, "My chicken fried steak is WONDERFUL!" hoping my wife would take the cue and perhaps we could hit Whataburger on the way home.

Nope. Almost apologetically, my wife told her that there was something seriously wrong with the steak. The waitress was so incredibly professional and over the top apologetic and embarrassed about the whole thing. She offered to bring out a new steak on the house, of course, but in hearing how good my chicken fried steak was, my wife asked if she could just have one of those. And as quick as humanely possible, she had returned with a huge chicken fried steak, and like mine, it was excellent.
On top of that, she took 10 percent of the bill as would be expected, but not all restaurants will go that far. In the end, we would have preferred to have eaten in either Adkins or St. Hedwig, but given the great service, we were fairly pleased with it.

I'd love to hear about your little trips to the country and the food you ate when you got there. Leave a comment or e-mail me.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dave....Adkins, St Hedwig, China Grove...those are my old stompin' grounds when I lived in the SA area. You should try the White House Cafe in Floresville sometime. The owners father sometimes bartends (Rudy Sanchez), he is a retired Army 1Sgt and has some great stories. The bldg itself is quite historical. Bob
P.S. Ask Randy G about Adkins

Dave said...

Hey Bob, I just mentioned to Randy the other day about taking a drive out there... We must have driven right by his house because he knew all the scoop on one of the nice houses we saw for sale.

We'll have to make a trip to Floresville and do a special restaurant report on the White House Cafe. I'll post pictures for you.

Anonymous said...

I was baptized in St. Hedwig church and my great-grandparents, grandfather and countless others were put to rest there. Many of my aunts and uncles still live down the sreet from the church. One of my first jobs as a teen was working at Texas Pride Barbeque. Sorry it was closed. You MUST make your way back out there when they are open. Its more than worth it. Although i now teach high school in Houston i stummbled upon your description of St. Hedwig through a google search. Thanks for painting a great image of my small hometown. Don't forget abuot the barbeque.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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