Food for Thought
Who needs fancy? Biscuits & Gravy, a country girl's junk food
An old friend from my San Antonio days recently reminded me of our wild ways. She ended by declaring that she tells people about how we would end our evenings of fine wine and champagne imbibing at four-star joints with a trip to Earl Abel’s around 2 a.m. where I would throw my sophisticated ways to the wind and chow down on a plate of biscuits and chicken gravy.
“You can take the girl out of the country,” she crowed, “but you can’t take the country out of the girl!”
Yep, it’s good to have friends with long memories.
And while I now refrain from long nights of drinking, I do still occasionally enjoy that country breakfast. Unlike its fellow dish of grits, now a celebrity at upscale eateries, biscuits and gravy has remained pretty much the same over the ages. A fluffy buttermilk biscuit drowned in white gravy, preferably with bits of sausage swimming in it. No fancy-shmancy ingredients, although one suspects some of our local chefs might find a way to make this dish upscale.
The new Laurenzo’s on Washington Avenue is a smart looking venue, but chef Domenic Laurenzo sticks with basics like prime rib and Tex-Mex. And, yes, they serve biscuits and gravy on their weekend brunch menu. It’s a big biscuit and the gravy comes on the side in a little ramekin so you can pour it or use it as a dip, which is kinda cool.
But just about any greasy spoon can pull off decent biscuits and gravy, something Waffle House proves daily. Some of the best I’ve had come from The Breakfast Klub, where they really know how to do Southern breakfast foods. Unfortunately, when I go there I usually opt for the wings and waffles (fried chicken on golden waffles, extra syrup, please) or the catfish and grits. There’s something really tempting about fried foods for breakfast.
But there’s one place where a plate of biscuits and gravy is a standing order for me: Avalon Diner, the original one on Westheimer Road. This longtime diner is a morning hot spot for River Oaks families, workers and politicos. The griddle is hot, the waitresses saucy and the wait for a table can be long. But if you go early and grab a seat at the counter you’ll be rewarded with a “Whatcha want, honey? Biscuits and gravy again?” as the waitress pours hot coffee into a thick porcelain mug.
I really don’t know why this simple meal tastes so darn good here. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, the people or the portions. I guarantee the biscuits aren’t made from organic flour, the butter not churned by hand at some bucolic local dairy and the gravy sure ain’t laced with truffles or duck fat.
But then again, sometimes a country gal just needs a dose of greasy spoon food. It’s our junk food fix.