Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Monday, November 14, 2005

“Cafeteria Style”

My sister and I dined at Cleburne Cafeteria on Sunday. Thomas and I had plans to eat there, but Thomas was feeling under the weather. There was a New York Times Style Magazine article about Cleburne Cafeteria a few weekends ago. Cleburne Cafeteria is a Southern-style cafeteria, but it’s not your typical cafeteria. The ingredients are fresh and all of the offerings are homemade. “[T]he meat and poultry are delivered fresh, and the salads, dressings and mayonnaise are made from scratch every morning. The velvet okra, which comes from a little farm in Stafford, Tex., is sometimes picked and served the same day.” Established in 1941, Cleburne Cafeteria draws a sizeable crowd.

I was supposed to meet my sister for lunch. I arrived before her, so I waited outside. It was painful watching droves of people walk past me into the cafeteria, to all the food about which I had read, like the mac’ n’ cheese and squash casserole. I was fearful that there would be none left by the time we made it to the serving line!

After my sister arrived, we got in line. It took us thirty minutes to make our way through the line before we finally picked up our trays. Fortunately, the line was not yet “O.T.D.,” which means the line is “out the door.” Cleburne Cafeteria offers a vast array of foods. They have the standard green jell-o, but the also make a notable carrot salad. They sell standing rib roast, roasted turkey, chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken, poached salmon, and blackened catfish, to name a few. I like to order fried liver and onions when I eat at a cafeteria. That is something one cannot cook at home, unless one does not have a problem with the entire house smelling like fried liver and onions. My sister opted for the chicken fried steak. The portions at Cleburne Cafeteria are quite generous, but the prices are quite reasonable. I did tell my sister that, if she ordered the $13 prime rib, she was paying. The chicken fried steak was as big as a dinner plate. I tasted my sister’s steak and, unlike most chicken fried steaks, which consist of gristle with a liberal coating of fried batter, this was a decent cut of meat. The two sizeable pieces of fried beef liver were tender and flavorful and the sautéed onions were nice and caramelized. My dining companion and I shared a mac’ n’ cheese and a squash casserole. The mac’ n’ cheese tasted like homemade mac’ n’ cheese. The salad of shredded carrots was lightly dressed and contained raisins and miniscule pieces of pineapple, which made for an interesting addition. For dessert, we shared a lemon tart. It was not spectacular. It was mostly sticky meringue on a pastry shell, with an insignificant creamy lemon filling. I wanted a lemon meringue pie but would have settled for the lemon icebox pie, but they had neither at the time. In retrospect, I should have spent the additional dollar and gone with one of the monstrously huge pieces of cake.

Cleburne Cafeteria only accepts check or cash. This was problematic, because I am not in the practice of carrying my checkbook with me, and someone has been taking the cash from my wallet. I did not learn about the limited methods of payment Cleburne Cafeteria accepts until I was at the cash register with a tray full of food. I had to wash dishes.

When we were leaving at 2:30, the line was O.T.D.


  • I can't get out of a cafeteria very cheaply. I keep pointing and pointing until my tray gets so loaded I can barely carry it :)

    By Blogger Ivy the Goober, at 4:59 PM, November 14, 2005  

  • That's pretty funny. My eyes can easily become bigger than my stomach, too. You want to try everything, just like at a buffet, but it's "mathematical impossible!"

    By Blogger Matthew, at 6:51 PM, November 14, 2005  

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