Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tudor's Biscuit World

It kinda shocks me that I haven't written about Tudor's Biscuit World before this morning. But prompted by my boss's "I think I'm going to get a biscuit, do you want one?" As I rolled in to get my consulting on, I think I must.

Now remember, he said "get a biscuit." He didn't tell me where. I knew.

South of Route 33 in West Virginia is Tudor's country, and whoa to the traveler through the southern half of our fair state who drive through without stopping at one.

Disclaimer, this is not gourmet. It's not even pretty sometimes. But it IS an institution, and the closest fast-food attempt at recreating some other food that I've ever found.

Check this...McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's. Fast-food attempting to re-create the "real burger" in America. EPIC FAIL. They are what they are. They are not a backyard barbecue burger with tomatoes from Rene's garden down the road.

Taco Bell (and even all the ubiquitous sit down Mexican joints with 37 lunch combos obviating the need for any statement of no substitutions on the menu). NOT a true taco. See HERE, and HERE.

LJS? I LOVE your uber-fried combo. But approximating a fish fry, or even further out there a seafood meal, is not what you really end up doing.

Again, I eat at ALL of those places, I'm just pointing out the obvious to make my Tudor's point.

Tudor's is a fast-food attempt at country cooking breakfasts. And they get that. Portions are large, butter is prevalent, customization of platters is possible dine-in or carry-out (scrambled or over easy on those eggs?). You have multiple meat choices with breakfast, and when you order sausage gravy, you get (figuratively) gallons of hot, molten, chunks-of-sausage-laden gravy.

Biscuits are named. The Mountaineer. The Peppi. The Ron. The Mary B. And each has their devotees. Rabid passion can be found in discussions about the merits of different biscuit sandwiches, and outsiders stare curiously inward to try and understand the phenomenon witnessed when a WV expat comes home and requires a biscuit. Usually before going home and saying hello to Mom and Dad.

I have a friend in the DC area who's from Parkersburg originally and has her Mom ship her biscuits every couple of months. She freezes them and rations them out at what must be an excrutiatingly slow pace to await the next shipment. Hey Kate, check THIS out.

And while you're waiting for the DC-area franchise, take a minute to think about biscuits. In their purest form, they are perfect. Crispy tops, golden-brown with basted butter goodness. Flaky-chewy interiors are fluffy and meltingly sweet. Should you wish to adorn your biscuits with extras, the cheese will bind it all, the eggs are real, the ham is salty, and the bacon is not nuked.

OMG...I'll be right back. I won't admit to this in public, but I may have needed a moment.

I am partial to the Mountaineer. Shocked? No, you're not. Ham, potato, egg, and cheese. ON A BISCUIT? It's the Tudor's moral-equivalent of wrapped in bacon. And I lurve it.

The menu is larger than the biscuits, and includes pancakes and full-breakfast plate mash-ups. Lunch items are foreign to many a Tudor's afficianado. I'd wager many folks don't even realize there are burgers and chicken sandwiches, and corn bread and pintos on the menu. But those things make Tudor's an even closer fast-food version of a country-cookin' diner.

I'm skimpy on my lunch experience at Tudor's, but you can read about their hot dogs here and here.

Take a look at Chris from WV Hot Dogs on Tudor's breakfasts:

It is kind of hard to describe a Tudor's biscuit to someone not from the area. Imagine a biscuit from a major fast food chain, only like 1000x times better. They make gigantic homemade buttermilk biscuits from scratch (and I mean from scratch) and thick slices of bacon, sausage, and/or ham (like you would use at home) on them, real fried eggs (not that reconstituted egg-based product found at the national joints) and the best tasting cheese this side of the government commodity truck (by the way, I challenge anyone to make a better sandwich cheese than the US government. No, I'm not kidding.). If you don't believe me, go to a grouping of fast food joints by an interstate exit any morning. You will see a few out-of-staters at Mickey D's and BK and a shipload of people with WV tags at Tudor's.

Staff's exactly what it should be at a place like that. Orders get yelled back to the kitchen even with the tape register printing it out. Good-natured 'where is my side of fried apples' and 'you never tooold me there was an extra egg on this order' occaisionally float out toward the restaurant.

Regulars come in every day and read their paper; sipping on coffee and having a biscuit or eggs and toast. It's not "Have a nice day;" it's "You have a nice day, dear" when you're paying at the drive-thru window.

Here's what I don't like about Tudor's, and it's a relatively short list. First, the coffee, it's really not good. Tudor's clings to the disproven (in my mind) theory that you don't have to put the extra spoonful of coffee in the filter. Please Mr. Tudor, stop skimping. That extra scoop will definitely remove the slightly tin-ny flavor that can only be overcome now by six creamers and four sugar packets.

Second, and this is KEY for your commuter fans, please instruct your drive-thru employees that one napkin per biscuit in the bag is horribly insufficient to wipe fingers clean of the detritus remaining on the customer post-biscuit. Wait, don't get totally mad; I LOVE the butter that comes on, in, and around your biscuits. It's one of the best parts. I just don't want to have to use a power-washer in the garage of the home-office to clean up. One or two more napkins in the bag will take care of that problem nicely.

I'll leave you with a Tudor's ad, since I don't presently have any photos of my own...

Tudor's Biscuit World on Urbanspoon


sara said...

Nicely done! I won't admit this ever again, but my favorite is the Rocket. I never order it, but fried steak on a biscuit. Oh. My. God. These days it's the Peppi with potato that I think of when I think Tudor's. For four years, I could look out my kitchen window and across the alley and Washington Street to the Tudor's drive-thru. It's probably a good thing I left when I did.

I'm The Chez said...

I had a Mountaineer yesterday.

When my dad and Jeff had the office in The People's Building there was a Tutor's downstairs where Sahara is now. They used to joke with the owner about installing a mail/biscuit shoot in between the office and the store.

Do you realize that where the Rally's is at Patrick Street was once a Tutors?!

kitchengeeking said...

@spinster girl...i have never had a Rocket. I will be fixing that tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll get there early enough to take advantage of their Free Wi-Fi!

@Chez I completely forgot to include your dad in my post. I love the fact that every time they come back to Charleston to visit, he requires a Tudor's meal for the visit to be deemed a success.

And, ummm...there's a Rally's at Patrick Street?

K said...

I recently moved to WV and tried the Mary B. Sweet Jesus was it good. I'll have to start working my way through the menu.

Lynnderful said...

I'm telling you, there is nothing like hitting the Nitro Tudor's at 4am. The biscuits are nice and fluffy and melt in your mouth. My fav, a scrambled egg, sausage, and hash brown biscuit(Herd without cheese)! I have to praise God every time I eat one. It is truly a spiritual experience.

kitchengeeking said...

@Lynnderful - And you've hit on another wonderful bit of Tudor's. Because it's real eggs, if you want scrambled instead of over-hard, you can get it.

I also like getting the breakfast sammiches on toast every once in a while...

sara said...

I've never had it with scrambled eggs! Now I'm even more excited for my next visit. I haven't had a Tudor's biscuit in at least a year. Good for my waistline, not so much for my soul.

The EDG said...

Can anyone address the "Cup O' Chunky" menu item that I've only seen in Belle? It scares me. What is that? (I'm down with the biscuits, but can only do the plain now. Back in the day, I could throw down a Peppi with the best.)

Unknown said...

Dan, Mary Nichols here...I've got it on good authority that former WV State Senator Oshell Craigo, who owns both the Tudors and Ginos franchises, is known to personally stop in and do random biscuit inspections at all of his restaurants. So, Dan, that's where you want to register your coffee complaint. Or you could drop a hint in the direction of the Putnam County Democratic Women, and I guarantee it will get back to Oshell.

Michelle said...

One of the first stops I make when I am home in WV is Tudor's. You can't find anything here in Texas even close to them. I took my husband to Tudor's over Christmas and laughed like crazy when he ordered two biscuits. He only finished one.

Unknown said...

I am a WVian living outside of the Capital Beltway in northern Virginia. I never miss a chance to go to Tudor's when I am home. The Herd is my fav, with the Duke running a close second. But really, it's all about that bomb-ass biscuit! I love a buttermilk biscuit, crispy on the bottom, golden brown on top. And they have some seriously SWEET tea. My Mom lives near the one in Kanawaha City and even though my Mom's biscuits are killer, it's not the same. Might have to open DC franchise just so I can have one!