Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Prelude Café Food Review

Fried Chicken Lunch Special

They say the best things in life are free; but free lunches are hard to come by (unless you have a very generous older brother... Thanks Bob!) I found the next best thing, earlier today at the Prelude Café at Strathmore. I've been here many times before; but almost always at night, when prices jump significantly. Today's visit was for lunch... when the price drops significantly. How significant? Try six bucks (including tax.) Bam!

Great prices are one thing; but how's the food? Today's special was Fried Chicken (three pieces) with your choice of two sides. Options included green beans, macaroni & cheese, rice pilaf and squash & zucchini. I chose the first two; and watched in admiration, as the cook carefully assembled a plate of pure scrumptiousness with my name written all over it. Does the term "piling on" ring a bell? Portions are generous, and the service (all the way down to the cashier) impeccable. The hot station is open from 11:30 until 2:00 PM; so I just made it, in the nick of time (1:45.) The lunch crowd had clearly thinned out by then: There was a table of three, one order to go and of course, yours truly.

Sodas, juice and coffee are available; but I stayed thrifty, and went with a cup of free water. I had my choice of tables, and selected one by a window. If you've never been to Strathmore (and shame on you, if you haven't) you know just how beautiful it is here. Now picture it, almost empty. Does the word oasis leap to mind? It should. I hadn't had one bite; yet all I could think about, was coming back.

Lucky for me, my first bite wasn't far behind. The green beans were nicely seasoned, plentiful and tender as all get-out. You won't believe this; but today's mac & cheese was my first ever. For 45 years, I've managed to avoid it; but today, I finally decided to take the plunge, and embrace everyone else's childhood favorite. What's the verdict? Predictable. I can't begin to understand what all the fuss is about. I don't have much to compare it to; but it's pasta with cheese all over it. Hardly the reaction one would hope for; but what did you expect, cartwheels?

On to the "main event," and the reason for today's visit... Fried Chicken. Prelude Café's is surprisingly tasty (especially given the time... 15 minutes before the end of lunch service.) It was nice & crispy, relatively moist, and well-seasoned (just the right amount of salt.) Two wings and a thigh may not look like much; but it's plenty for me, especially with two large sides. I came this close to going back for seconds; and who could blame me, at just $6 an order?

Before I left, the staff encouraged me to return (tomorrow's salad bar = zzz; but Thursday is Pita day, followed by Fiesta Friday!) Each day costs the same ($6, including tax.) How impressive is that? Prelude Café could be the classiest, most affordable "cafeteria" still standing. All we need now is Salisbury steak, and I'll be hooked for life.