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Chowdown Showdown: Biscuits Are Good, But Gravy Is Gravy

Gryder goes south of the river to find out who serves the best version of this southern dish.

I’m probably the easiest guy in the world to please at breakfast. If it’s warm and ready for me to eat, then I’m pretty much satisfied with whatever you offer me.

But if you really wanted to make me happy, there for darn sure best be some biscuits and gravy made available. You see I’ve had many good breakfast foods over the years, but B-and-G and I have a long and beautiful history together.

When I was a little guy, it was a big deal for our family to go out maybe every other Saturday and have breakfast at Plano’s cultural hub: Treber’s Restaurant.  Treber was the man. As I recall, it was just him working a kitchen line and a few servers taking care of a packed restaurant on a Saturday. I loved to watch him serving up all sorts of plates with any number of delicious breakfast entrees. For years I didn’t know he wore a watch, his hands would move so fast.

What really matters here, though, is that Treber’s biscuits and gravy were very likely the most delicious dish ever served on Kendall County’s rich, loamy soil. Large chunks of meat, soft and yet crusty biscuits, and a gravy whose flavor sang like "Good Golly Miss Molly" - louder than the WSPY (107.1 FM, Plano) crackling over the small radio in the corner.

Needless to say, the amazingness of his biscuits and gravy has given me a sort of breakfast quest. I’m perpetually looking to find a plate of biscuits and gravy that matches the gloriousness of what Treber imprinted on my young palate.   

Thankfully this superb Southern sustenance is in substantial supply south of the spillway, where I headed to research some of Yorkville’s best B-and-G options. Alliteration aside, the south side of Yorkville usually doesn’t draw the love like the north nets, so I want to make sure Wards 1 and 2 get some love. That territory two, after all, is where we got Mayor Gary Golinski.

It may just be that the nostalgia alone will never allow a fair comparison. I simply will not recall this week as well as I recall my childhood. But I’ve gone to three fine restaurants for the dish in the hopes of telling you which is most likely to be some Yorkville child’s jumping off point for a local review in 25 years.

For this Chowdown Showdown, I didn’t open any menus and simply told the servers, “I’d like a half-order of biscuits and gravy.” Usually that meant a small serving of biscuit and gravy for less than 5 dollars.

Not here. I would find out later that what I meant to order here was “a side-order of biscuits and gravy.” So imagine my surprise when a full-sized dinner plate was served to me, half covered in hash browns. Imagine my surprise at the $8.50 check.    

Here’s a prime example of a thinner gravy just loaded with flavor; by far the most flavorful of the three dishes I tasted. My half-order once again consisted of two biscuits split in half, only these biscuits were thick and tasty. The sausage pieces here were the finest chopped I’d encountered, and also the most tender.   

The gravy had a reddish hue, compared to the milky-white, alabaster tone of the other two outlets. Concealed in that not-white-but-not-red-either gravy is a whole load of flavor. Strong as the flavor was, it was lacking in complexity. I really feel like most of the flavor was simply salt and pepper, which anyone from the south will tell you is proper . However researching this article taught me that I am a B-and-G snob.   

Just some real strong flavor. 

Southern Belle’s Good: Easily the most flavor of the three dishes compared here. 
Southern Belle’s Bad: As tasty as it was, I just wasn’t particularly blown away. It was Spinal Tap, with its flavor-amp cranked up to eleven.  

Bridge Street serves a nice looking plate of biscuits and gravy. The gravy is white, as I am conditioned to expect, and good sized chunks of sausage crest through like stones in our beautiful new canoe chute. It appeared to be the restaurant’s sausage links, chopped into the size of a soda-bottle cap. I find that to be the ideal way to prepare a good breakfast gravy.  

The biscuits induced a textural recall from KFC; that good, soft, crumbly biscuit. The biscuit was served warmed – the true sign that a kitchen is taking its dish seriously.

With enough seasonings as to be visible – like a photo of a night sky in negative – Bridge Street Café presents you with a plate that makes you consider trading in your fork for a trowel.

The taste was excellent. The gravy was substantial with regards to thickness. It was easy to clean the plate. Maybe it was too easy. A “half-order,” which runs about $4.50, was one biscuit served in halves.

Bridge Street Café Good: That sausage is really something, and the gravy was a good day’s work for some cook.   
Bridge Street Café Bad: For the cost of the dish, I expected at least one more biscuit on my plate.

 

The first thing that I observed as I was served a nice, hot plate of B-and-G was the quantity. Here, a half order is two biscuits split in half, and the dish is served on a full-sized dinner plate. 

The sausage wasn’t as obvious as it was at Bridge Street, but it was there. I’m pretty sure there were actually more pieces of sausage in the dish, however they were no bigger than the eraser on a pencil.

The gravy was not very thick. If your imagination can conceive of how a plate of biscuits would look if it were covered in liquid laundry detergent, your imagination is doing a great job of helping me describe this plate of biscuits and gravy. The stream of steam rising from the plate primarily indicates a hot dish, but also indicates a good amount of water. 

Now, the gravy being a little runny isn’t a deal-breaker for me – not by a long shot – but flavor was conspicuously absent.  The unremarkable gravy, prepared with small and bland sausage, coupled with very plain tasting biscuits left the palate wanting. But for the money, it is a substantial breakfast dish that will stick to your ribs and easily carry you through to lunch.     

Silver Dollars Good: For what you spend (about $4.50), you get a good helping. I got the right amount of food for the cost.
Silver Dollars Bad: I’m charged with TASTING food for this series, right? C’mon, Silver Dollars, help me out.

And the winner is… 

Bridge Street Café. I don’t mind dropping my machismo for a moment and admitting that this Showdown made me feel a little like Goldilocks. One dish was too bland. One dish was too tasty. One dish was just right.  

Treber, whom we discussed earlier, still lives in the area although he left the restaurant maybe 12 years ago. I wonder if he thinks any of these dishes are up to snuff.

Kathy Tucek August 01, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Hi Rob, come on out to the Yorkville Legion on the Second Sunday of the Month, October through April for some amazing gravy served up at the SAL Breakfast Buffet. You won't be disappointed!
Edev August 01, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Try the picket fence in sandwich on sundays , they open at 8am. country style buffet. Ive had B@G all over kendall and kane , these sweet old ladys make the best hands down. Its a small country kitchen with A+++++ food, and a serious walk back in time feel. Everything is fresh and home cooked to the point of feeling you have arrived in a black and white TV feeling and being served by aunt bea.
Robert J. Gryder August 01, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Hey, well that sounds alright, too. I don't get over to Sandwich very much (if ever), but maybe I'll try to coordinate something with my wife where we can go try that out. What kind of prices are we talking about at the Picket Fence?
Rick Gryder August 01, 2011 at 02:55 PM
I would still come down for Treber's B & G if they were available but I will have to try your recommendations Rob
Edev August 01, 2011 at 03:17 PM
@ Mr Gryder It was 8 dollars per person and was all u can eat . B@G , scrambled eggs , sausage pattys , bacon , wonderful hashbrowns with yellow , orange , and green peppers and fresh pastrys. The coffee was top notch too. Also , its not a buffet like u would see with food open in the air with a sneeze guard. Everything was in its own stainless steel lid. Top notch

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