The $10 Challenge: Terri Ann’s

Biscuit and gravy from Terri Ann's
Biscuit and gravy from Terri Ann’s

A restaurant like Theresa’s doesn’t come along all the time. Neither does its breakfast special.

Theresa’s is a diner in Bowling Green that serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday; Sundays are reserved for the staff to spend time with “the Lord and their families,” the menu says. The smoking section takes up the majority of the restaurant, but the cloud of secondhand smoke inevitably wafts over to a non-smoker’s table as waitresses hustle by with full trays of orders. Because the doors close at 3 in the afternoon, the booths and tables are full of blue-collar workers still in cover-alls looking for breakfast after the first and third shifts.

Breakfast was my favorite thing about Theresa’s. They had this incredible breakfast special that I ordered every time I visited as a Western Kentucky University student. For four dollars and some change, you get biscuits and gravy or toast (but seriously, who chooses toast when biscuits and gravy is an option), your choice of a meat, two eggs any way you want them, and hash browns.

I’ve spent three years trying to find a dinner in Louisville that I love as much as Theresa’s.

Terri Ann’s is pretty close. It’s a diner in southwest Louisville, just down the street from the beauty shop my parents own. Terri Ann’s offers a hearty line-up of meat-centric Southern diner fare that will set you back well less than $10.

My dad comes in most Saturdays with a carry-out box filled to the edges with some kind of breakfast combo he’s picked up from Terri Ann’s.

“You want some of this?” he asks, mouth full of egg and potato.

Yes, Daddy, I indeed want some Terri Ann’s, I decided one Saturday.

Instead of picking out of my dad’s to-go box, I went down to the restaurant after my shampoo and set to enjoy an early lunch with Rob.

The diner lacks some of the charm of Theresa’s (the city’s smoking ban probably has a lot to do with that), but it’s just as unpretentious. Guests seat themselves in vinyl booths or small tables under the dull glow of fluorescent lights. Waitresses don’t wear uniforms – just T-shirts, jeans and a smile.

We started with a couple of mismatched mugs of coffee ($1.50). I wasn’t expecting Starbucks, but I wasn’t expecting the thin beverage I sipped. Even though it was the cheapest coffee I had in weeks, I quickly decided I would stick with just water the next time.

Terri Ann’s food is more robust than its drinks, but take note: this is a restaurant where New Year’s resolutions come to die. All of the appetizers ($3.25-$4.95) are fried or covered in cheese. The only vegetarian option on the lunch sandwich menu is the grilled cheese on Texas toast (served with fries, $3.50). And don’t get me started on the country fried steak. But there’s a certain charm to this disregard providing healthful options. This isn’t a place to count Weight Watchers points. Terri Ann’s is a place to fill your belly on the cheap with some good, greasy, cheap food.

My general rule is to order breakfast whenever a restaurant serves the most important meal of the day all day. Unless you had your heart set on waffles, which aren’t on the menu, Terri Ann’s has just about everything I could ask for in a breakfast menu. I could be full for hours with one of the egg plates, which come with fried potatoes, a biscuit, two eggs and one of seven different meats (ranging from $5.95 for smoked sausage and eggs to $9.95 for steak and eggs). The short stack with meat ($5.35 for two “hot cakes” and your choice of meat) and old-time French toast ($3.50 for three piece made with Texas toast) would satisfy my sweet tooth. And if all else fails, there’s always biscuits and gravy ($3 for two biscuits).

To get a little taste of a lot of food, I ordered the “Two Egg’s & Taters” (sic) that came with two eggs cooked to order (over medium for me), fried potatoes, country gravy and a biscuit ($3.95). Rob went with the Traditional Western omelet and fried potatoes ($8.70).

Biscuit and gravy, fried potatoes and eggs over medium from Terri Ann's.
Biscuit and gravy, fried potatoes and eggs over medium from Terri Ann’s.

The meal made up for my earlier disappointment with the coffee.

The fried potatoes were like the fat cousin of hash browns. The heftier hunks had the crispy edges that I like but more of the potato’s “meat.”

The eggs and biscuit were very good, nothing out of the ordinary, but tasty nonetheless. The country gravy, however, was some of the thickest I had ever had. I only needed to plop couple of heaping spoonfuls onto my biscuit. The gravy was a day away from being the consistency of a Jell-O mold.

A bite of Western omelet from Terri Ann's.
A bite of Western omelet from Terri Ann’s.

If I ever go to Terri Ann’s on an empty stomach, I will get the Western omelet that Rob ordered. The three-egg dish includes bacon, sausage, ham onion, tomato, mushrooms, green peppers and cheddar cheese. It was like someone dumped the toppings of a supreme pizza onto a pile of eggs. This dish is guaranteed to give you a severe case of the itis that you can only remedy with a nap.

Terri Ann’s won’t have the nostalgia that I’ve attached to Theresa’s any time soon. But it is a restaurant where I can afford to make plenty of new memories.

Terri Ann’s, 2605 Rockford Lane, Louisville

Coffee: $1.50
Two eggs, fried potatoes and a biscuit with gravy: $3.95
Total (with tax): $5.78

Mission: Accomplished

Don’t waste a failed bread recipe. Transform it in these 4 ways.

It’s easy to save a little money if you are willing to look at something with new eyes.

Take, for instance, when you’re trying to bake bread or a pastry.

I’m more of a cook than a baker, so a lot of my attempts at baking have ended with a something stale and hard. But I feel like I’m dumping greenbacks into the garbage can if I throw away my bricks of bread. Instead, I transform it into something new.

Here are four ways you can save bad bread:

Bread pudding with a bourbon-spiked glaze.
  1. Bread pudding. My mom made my dad a Sock-It-To-Me Cake, but she forgot the sour cream, a key ingredient. She was about to throw the whole cake away and make another. I rescued the cake and used it as the base of a bread pudding. Though I came up with a bread pudding based on several recipes, it was very similar to this Kentucky recipe.
  2. Stuffing. I don’t want to talk about the time I tried to make biscuits. It was a disaster. But I got some good stuffing from it, so everyone was a winner.
  3. Croutons. If you have some stale bread, or a really bad hunk of a loaf that just didn’t quite turn into the bread you wanted it to be, slice it into squares, toss with some olive oil and Italian seasoning, and bake for about 10 minutes or until crunchy. Thank me later.
  4. French toast. When I was a kid, I remember watching an episode of The Babysitters’ Club in which a kid spilled some milk on the counter. A teenage boy trying out to be in the club cracked an egg on top of the milk, dipped some slices of bread in the mess, and fried it on a griddle. That kid was on to something. This is perfect for that half loaf of bread you didn’t get to fast enough.

 

What do you do with bad bread?

The $10 Challenge: Wild Eggs

Biscuits and gravy at Wild Eggs.

I’ve done quite a few of these Challenges.

In the process, I’ve discovered a few similarities between exceptionally good restaurants in Louisville.

  1. There’s nowhere to park and/or there’s a wait.
  2. The hosts and hostesses don’t wear a uniform and/or they have at least one visible tattoo.
  3. The dishes have catchy names.

If a place has two out of three, some good food is probably coming your way. But when a restaurant has all three … prepare for a foodgasm.

This coveted trifecta was present during a trip to Wild Eggs, a breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant with several locations throughout Louisville.

My roommates and I had to stalk a woman in a minivan to find a parking spot in the small lot at the Dutchmans Lane locations. The friendly hostess had some impressive ink running up and down her arms. And when we were seated after just a five-minute wait, I squealed when I looked at the menu and saw dishes with names like Batman and Reuben ($11.99) and Sweet Home Apple Bourbon crepes ($9.99).

The signs all pointed to some good eatin’. And let me tell you, good eatin’ was had by all.

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