Nov 26, 2013

A commoner reviews Stroud’s, Fairway, Kansas

If you’re like me and love food, and the Food Network, you’re probably very familiar with the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”  The show’s premise revolves around a theme for each show, and then famous chefs and food critic describe their favorite dishes in that category and where to get it.  I've eaten a lot of great food at a lot of restaurants from hole-in-the-walls to legendary meccas for certain foods, so I don’t use the words “best ever” lightly. 

That said, and with apologies to my grandmother who made some awesome pan-fried chicken almost every Sunday when I was growing up, the fried chicken at Stroud's Restaurant is the best I ever ate.  Certainly the best I ever ate at any restaurant.

I had discovered Stroud’s while researching a trip with the Young Curmudgeon to Kansas City several years ago.  Unfortunately, we never made it there, so I put it on my short list of places to go in KC as part of this summer’s road trip to Colorado with my friend, Ken, and the fake wife, Christine.  On our way back from Colorado, we finally made it, stopping at the newer location in suburban Fairway, Kan.      
The entrance to the Stroud's south location.

Stroud’s Restaurant has a full and impressive menu that will make you pause and consider other options.  If it wasn't for their well-deserved reputation for the fried chicken, Stroud’s menu would remind you of a nice Kansas City steakhouse.

Anticipating an excellent meal.
Maybe next time, though, because if you’re coming here for the first time, the chicken is what you want to experience. 

Let’s start with the obvious … all dinners include salad or homemade chicken noodle soup.  I’m sure they make a perfectly acceptable salad, but why would you bother when you can slurp on this?  Nice, thick noodles, big chunks of breast meat and savory broth … if it doesn't remind you of mom’s it’s only because it’s that much better. 

With three of us at the table, I thought an appetizer sounded good, so I ordered a half-order of fried chicken livers and gizzards.  Yes, that is a half-order.  For just $5.50.  It came on a serving tray large enough to hold a whole chicken.  And it came with gravy.  And they were incredibly good.

The mixed plate of livers and gizzards held our appetites in check while we waited for the friend chicken, which is pan-fried to order. 

Now that's an impressive breast!
And since all three of us ordered the family-style chicken dinner (a breast each and cook’s choice on two more pieces per meal), it was served just like Sunday dinner at grandma’s – all the chicken on one serving plate, the masked potatoes in a large bowl, another bowl of gravy, another bowl of green beans and huge homemade cinnamon rolls on standby.  For all of that food, it's a steal at $15.50 per person. 

Now, let’s talk about the chicken.  I’m not even trying to be funny when I say these may have been the largest breasts I've ever seen.  And they were just about the juiciest to match.  One puncture through the perfectly thin-fried skin, and the juices were oozing out onto your plate – or your fingers if you’re eating it right. 

Stroud's doesn't let the sides slide, either.  The green beans were excellently seasoned with just enough bacon to let you know pork has its place here, too.  And the mashed potatoes were supremely fluffy but still full of texture.  Topped with their outstanding peppery, cream-style gravy, they literally melted in your mouth. 

Finally, and fittingly for dessert here, the cinnamon rolls were huge, fluffy, and packed with flavor.  Christine ranked these among the best rolls she’s ever had.  That’s not faint praise – she has won awards for her own desserts.   

It was an incredibly memorable meal all around, and at one point we had to throw in the towel or we would have been in a food coma for the remainder of the drive back home.  But we had plenty of leftovers (I made a full meal just out of the leftover livers, gizzards and gravy) to share.  And since we didn't have much room for the cinnamon rolls at dinner, our waitress packed them all up for us to eat later (she also threw in a couple of extras – Christine was ecstatic).  

No, Stroud's, thank you.
You have to admit, that’s a sizable to-go bag. 

My only regret was not being able to wash dinner down at the adjacent bar.  It sure seemed inviting.  Add that to my list of things to try on my next visit. 

It should be no surprise that Stroud’s gets my highest recommendation.  If you’re in the Kansas City area and you don’t feel like barbecue, give this place a try.  And plan on taking leftovers with you. 

And if you’re wondering, yes, Stroud’s has made it on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” at least once.            

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