By Noah Syverson, News Producer
Famed mountain climber George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.
His response? “Because it’s there.”
Both myself and Alex Hodges, the Arts and Living Editor at the Campus Carrier, have been asked similar questions to the one that was proposed to Mallory before he conquered the tallest peak in the world.
Why did you want to go to all three of Rome’s Waffle Houses in one night? Why did you feel it necessary to rank and review them?
Our reasoning echoes that of Mallory’s.
Because they are there.
Yes, we heard the echoing bells of civic duty and decided to respond. Yes, we felt that students deserved to know which House best served their needs. And yes, we were hungry.
But the main reason for our quest was this: the Waffle Houses are there.
To paraphrase another guy who spent a lot of time outdoors: The [Waffle Houses] are calling, and [we] must go.
The Rome area has three Waffle House locations.
Starting from the top and listed clockwise, they are as follows:
The Mount Berry Highway location, the Chulio Road location, and the Shorter Avenue location.
We wanted to be as objective as possible in our rankings. Locations were reviewed based on taste, service, and atmosphere. Naturally, factors like distance from campus, cleanliness, butter consistency, and coffee temperature were also taken into account.
The account of the journey is related chronologically.
Alex picked me up a little after 11:00 p.m. on a Thursday night. We headed for southeast Rome.
1. Chulio Road
Chulio Road was immediately penalized thanks to their awful parking lot structure, which requires all approaching vehicles to go completely around the building before being granted access to a narrow entrance. Not a great way to start. But perhaps they’re playing hard to get? Is the prize sweeter when you have to work extra hard to obtain it?
Inside the dim glow of the restaurant, your humble patrons could sense no difference from the freezing temperature outside. Another deduction.
Chulio was most definitely able to overcome these early setbacks however, thanks to fantastic service and food.
I ordered coffee and was provided a steaming mug and two creamers, the perfect complement.
My waffle with chocolate and peanut butter chips was served up quickly. Warm and fluffy, with the gooey corporate sweetness of the chips keeping things balanced.
My favorite part of the Chulio location? The consistency of the butter. Hear me out, this stuff was spot on–not the frozen product one usually sees at the House. Spreadable and lukewarm, this butter was a dream.
It’s an out-of-body experience, being sober in a Waffle House. You’re looking up through a tunnel of yourself. But going to three in a row? That puts your brain in a blender. These cookie cutter tabernacles have the same structural layout, the lights give off the same yellow glow, the seats have the same worn consistency. It’s like living out the same moment over and over, Groundhog Day-style.
Chulio’s sound ambiance was muted.
Besides the gentle hum of the orange juice machine, the sizzle of the grill, and the echo of the older gentleman at the counter making a move on the waitress, all was still. No music played.
Normally this would be a negative, but the resulting mix of the natural sound harmonized beautifully.
We paid, departed, and soldiered on to our next destination, braving our way to the west side.
#1 CHULIO RD MISSION REPORT
2. Shorter Avenue
The Shorter Road location, smack-dab in the middle of my ole high school stomping grounds, was interesting to say the least. Unfortunately on this night, they were undoubtedly the worst out of any House we visited.
Cleanliness was lacking, the service was less-than-desirable, and the whole atmosphere felt grimy and guilty.
Some of you are screaming at the screen “THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE IDEAL WAFFLE HOUSE PROVIDES” and there’s certainly an argument to be made for that. But, it’s neither my nor Alex’s cup o’ joe.
I ordered regular-size hashbrowns smothered, covered, and chunked. That’s cheese, onions, and ham, for the uninitiated.
By the way, is there anything more satisfying than WH’s affinity for sensually placing a single slice of Kraft atop their hashbrowns? Great Neptune’s beard, now that’s art.
Alex and I’s conversation was only occasionally broken up by the off-tone karaoke provided by our server to the jukebox’s faint playing of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. It added character to the environment, if nothing else.
The main thing Shorter had going for it was the fact that it was the only House willing to play tunes. You ever heard “Honey” by Mariah Carey while you sip lukewarm decaf?
After an abbreviated stay, we trudged back out into the January chill.
#2 SHORTER AVE MISSION REPORT
3. Martha Berry Hwy
As previously mentioned, the Martha Berry Hwy location was always going to have the leg up on its competitors because of the geographic proximity to campus.
However, all things equal, Martha Berry still proved itself to be the top dog. It hit all the standard notes. Maybe it was a case of right place, right time. Maybe had we gone in reverse order, the divine epiphanies would have started rolling in at Chulio.
Regardless, spiritual inspiration was only reached once we got to the Martha Berry breakfast temple.
This place was a chromium wonderland.
And the wood paneling? Different, but it works. Neither of the opposing Houses had such a distinct and flavorful touch.
More than anything, the spot received the highest marks because both Alex and I felt it had a homey ambiance.
Is that subjective? Sure. When three places are exact clones of each other, you start to rely heavily on what a ball coach would call the “intangibles.”
Could the hominess-feeling have arisen because we both, by this point, were sporting food bellies and felt as warm and gooey as the waffles that were being delivered up? Possibly.
It certainly helped that this location had made the smart business decision of actually turning on its heater. But it wasn’t just “warm,” no. That doesn’t do it justice. Martha Berry was “warm” in the same way that a mother’s embrace is “warm.”
It was special, man.
I polished off my night with two grilled biscuits, jelly on the side. Economical and fulfilling.
Crusade complete, we departed.
Rather than footprints, the only thing we had left at each location were dishes.
How is one supposed to feel after the completion of a pilgrimage? Motivated to turn a new leaf? Content with the finishing of a task? I don’t what I was supposed to feel, but I do know this.
I was full.
#3 MARTHA BERRY HWY MISSION REPORT
The Definitive Final Rankings:
- Martha Berry Hwy: 9.1/10
- Chulio Road: 8.2/10
- Shorter Avenue: 7.0/10
Happy trails, fellow wanderers.
May your coffee be hot and your butter soft.
Alex’s account of the evening for the Campus Carrier can be found here:
Waffle House Wars: the best of breakfast