Sometimes, a glut of senior citizens can serve as a litmus test for the success of a restaurant. They seem to gravitate to those down-home American comfort food joints, particularly the ones honoring the Golden Buckeye card. The Hitching Post, located at 2715 Madison Road in Hyde Park, is just such a place.
Their menu reads, "World's Best Fried Chicken," which, due to the recent holidays, reminds me of a gag in the movie, "Elf." The flick includes a scene in which our hero visits New York City and passes a grimy dive proclaiming to have the "World's Best Cup of Coffee." Having not tried Hitching Post's chicken (nor have I tried all the fried chicken in the world), the jury is still out on this bold claim.
No, our target was the breakfast food, of which Hitching Post has a lot to offer. There are buttermilk pancakes, "Uncle Bubba's Ultimate" omelettes, home fried potatoes, sausage, steak-n-eggs, hickory smoked bacon, bisquits and gravy, ham and --oh yes-- goetta. Most distinctive of all are the sweet, powdery treats they call, "Kettle Kakes."
Kettle Kakes are not entirely dissimilar to the celebrated beignets of New Orleans. The little half-crescent shaped pieces of fried dough are denser, generously covered in powdered sugar and served hot. As is the case with beignets, it's best not to breathe when you bite into a Kettle Kake, lest you cover yourself and your neighbor in a cloud of white sweetness.
We ordered the pancakes and the country omelette (potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, green peppers, tomatoes), which also came with four "mini potato pancakes." They looked a lot like potato latkes, which begs the question: what is the distinction? Is one grated, while the other is shredded? In any event, the piping-hot, crispy medallions of starchy love were my second favorite menu item, next to the Kettle Kakes.
The omelette was beautifully and tightly wrapped, making it look like a fat, eggy burrito. Its compact shaped ensured a uniform distribution of steaming melted cheese in nearly every bite. The mushrooms, while cooked, still lent a bit of texture instead of the sogginess often found in other omelettes.
The buttermilk pancakes were large, light and fluffy, but we felt their flavor was a bit lacking. I like to taste the sour bite of the buttermilk and I like the pre-char crunch that comes from the griddle. These cakes afforded neither and consequently were bland.
Prices were very reasonable (less than $8 for most breakfast menu combinations) and our waitress was prompt and friendly. The one minor annoyance is that, every time we visit Hitching Post (and it's not nearly as often as it could be), we get a sales pitch by our server about signing up for their frequent meal card. She came armed with the card, a pencil and a form to fill out. We declined. Again.
Even if you aren't old enough to qualify for Medicare, Hitching Post offers a vast menu of down-home favorites, everything from fried chicken, double-decker sandwiches, meatloaf and burgers to fish-n-chips, country fried steak, soups, salads, open-faced turkey and roast beef sandwiches. And yes, grandma: they even serve liver-n-onions.