Lambert’s Cafe

copied from my old blog – June 11, 2008.

* * *

Stopped in Sikeston to visit that famous Lamberts Café, “home of throwed rolls”. What a treat, but not necessarily for the slim-of-waist. In all the times I drove up here from Memphis, passing by those billboards with the Lamberts ads, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to see what the big deal was. So today, I decided I had enough time to taste those throwed rolls.

Had to park on a gravel lot, near some kind of showcase pavilion, because there was no designated parking for big trucks. But there were many busses, bikers, and ordinary folks. Lots of tourists. I was disappointed to see a sign on their door, “We Do Not Accept Credit Cards or Checks”. There was a flowery wreath hanging over it, so I tried to lift it to see if I read it correctly. I did: No credit cards. In handling the wreath, I caused several flowers to fall out onto the pavement. When I stooped to pick them up, I learned these flowers were not plastic. The carnation was real, the daisy was real. Some other flower was real. Must have been REAL expensive to make. Another customer noted that the foam pad that held the flowers was moist, so as to keep the flowers watered. What was the occasion for special wreaths? I do not know.

Lamberts Café was started in Sikeston by one Lambert family, in about 1940. The present building looks like a huge barn. It has the old-style wooden floor, some rustic wooden bench-style seats for the customers, and did I say…

The place is HUGE inside.

I did not know what to expect, so I decided to order the days special. After ordering, a different man came walking by, hawking “hot rolls” so I held up my hands, and he promptly tossed one at me. It was steamy hot, so I had to put it down on a paper towel. Pulled it apart, and slowly ate it. I was hungry, and my pork chops had not arrived yet. A few minutes later, a girl walks by with a pot of molasses for the rolls. As I had no bread for it, she couldn’t very well give me any molasses. Another few minutes, and a different girl come walking by hawking “apple butter”. Now that tempted me, but I had already eaten my bread roll. I didn’t think throwing (or tossing) the bread made it any more special, by the way. But it was good enough to eat.

The days special was something a little out-of-the-ordinary; barbecue pork chops. That’s plural. Initially I thought it would be just one chop. Maybe, just maybe, two pieces of 1 pork chop. It was two pork chops. Not teeny weeny pork chops, but thick-cuts, meaty pork chops. Even without the rim of fat, there was enough pork in front of me to last at least three meals. And it cost just $10.99 . The waiter came to the table with a large aluminum frying pan. I thought it was another pass-around thing, for everybody, but not so. This was my order: two huge pork chops, in a HUGE aluminum skillet, with two bowls of vegetables on the side. I look at this thing, and know immediately, there is no way I can eat all this today. There was more ham in the bowl of beans than there was beans. This was more meat than what I remember eating at barbecue places in Memphis. More than a whole rack of ribs — that much meat! Did I say it was HUGE ? But I’m willing to give it a fat-man’s try.

Then another man comes walking by, offering some zesty concoction of tomatoes and macaroni. A few minutes later, another man comes by with fried potatoes. Yummy yummy. The potatoes alone were better than anything else made of spuds served to me at any truck stops, over the years. Then another girl comes by with a big bowl of fresh-fried okra. At that point, I was too bloated to even try the okra.

Scratching my head over this, as maybe you already know; for $10.99, it seemed almost too good to be true, for all the food I got. While I’m cutting into these pork chops, I’m wondering if maybe the waiter misunderstood, and gave me a double order. Not so. Was delighted with the food.

By and by, the bread roll thrower came by again, and tossed another bread roll at me. This time, I waited for the molasses. It was worth waiting for. The only way it could have been any better, would be if they had fresh dairy butter for the bread, instead of “Country Crock”. Oh well. But it was good even without any spreads.

They gladly gave me a take-out container, for the meat I could not eat. And it would serve as a good lunch for me, another day.

Gotta roll now. If you haven’t tried Lamberts Café, its worth the experience. If you are not big on pork, or any meat entrée, order a vegetable plate. Don’t worry about choosing which vegetables you think you’ll like, because, all the “pass-arounds” will fill you up — even if you eat none of your entrée. That’s no joke. Lots more to tell, but gotta roll. And I don’t mean bread roll.

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