Bacon the Question in Snook, Texas

by James Boo on March 23, 2009 · 18 comments

tagged as , , , , , ,

Frank Sodolak's Country Inn - Snook, TX
Like most delusional minds, I’ve always prided myself in my understanding of reality, especially when reality concerns itself with the edible parts of a wonderful, magical animal. I was therefore puzzled to learn that, apparently, bacon is a fad. As a man who pays more mental rent on Doug than on the rippling fabric of pop culture 2.0, I have trouble understanding what it means to have bacon “back where it belongs.” In my eyes (and stomach), there’s a place for extreme eating, and to wrap the constant of shock value in a dressing as cheap as “bacon backlash” is a disservice to both bacon and backlash (not that I wouldn’t renege on this statement for a salad dressing named “bacon backlash”).

Accordingly, I doubt that Frank Sodolak, owner of Sodolak’s Country Inn, has ever set finger to keyboard in praise of one of America’s most essential foods. To the cook who simply cooks, bacon is immune to the passions of meta-criticism. However, as Sodolak has shown in his roadside corner of Texas, bacon is not immune to the creative spirit.

I learned this fact firsthand on a five hour road trip along state highways to the town of Snook. I had first learned of chicken fried bacon in 2006, when Bob Phillips‘ video review of the creation found its way onto YouTube. Judging from Phillips’ harrying soundtrack cues and and the general hype-for-hype of “bacon mania,” one might expect a dish so extreme that it defies all good sense.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Frank Sodolak's Country Inn - Snook, TX
Fortunately, the reality of Sodolak’s chicken fried bacon differs greatly from the fantasy that has propelled it into the limelight. Those who expect the extreme, the chic or the vulgar are bound to be disappointed by what is little more than an appetizer, albeit a calorically prodigious one. The process behind this dish couldn’t be more transparent: Coat six strips of raw, thin-sliced bacon in lightly seasoned batter. Deep fry. Serve hot.

While the interview comments from Bob Phillips’ review could easily be filtered as sound bite-sized jabs at southern obesity, they make perfect sense when the platter of gold coated curls lies at your fingertips. A testament to Sodolak’s sensibilities as a cook, this is a surprisingly delicate dish- and it does need more salt. The breading of the bacon goes just far enough to provide a satisfying crisp, but stops far before it reaches the crusting point of a chicken fried steak (which is also on the menu). Because the bacon is cooked quickly, each bite is airy and tender. The flavor of neither the meat nor the breading is strong enough to overwhelm, and the accompanying country gravy is as authentically nondescript as the potholed marquee that posts its place on the farm road outside. In its understated beauty, Sodolak’s creation separates the stupidly simple from the simply stupid and makes seconds on deep fried bacon an entirely sensible notion.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Sodolak's Country Inn - Snook, TX Extra Small Sirloin Steak  - Sodolak's Country Inn - Snook, TX
However, seconds on any appetizer would be foolhardy at the Country Inn. While Frank Sodolak might have made his name on chicken fried bacon, he’s made his living on the impeccable southern cooking that underscores his restaurant. Front and center is a behemoth ensemble of Texas steaks: The “extra small sirloin,” for example, weighs in at a solid pound and covers an entire dinner platter like a beef blanket. Boldly pepper crusted and grilled medium rare to order, it’s probably the best steak I’ve ever tasted. Not coincidentally, it’s also the most inexpensive: At a cost of only $11.95 (including fries and toast), Sodolak’s sirloin smacks Peter Luger with a king sized Texas backhand, daring any witness to sell steaks at a more lopsided flavor-to-dollar ratio. When I make my way back to Snook, chicken fried bacon is sure to land on my tab, but it’s pork chops and porterhouse that I’ll be craving most.

If there’s a clear image that comes to my mind at the end of a meal at this restaurant, it’s not the bacon explosion, but the Skylight Inn of Ayden, North Carolina. Like the Skylight’s Pete Jones, who at one point had a cholesterol count of over 800, Frank Sodolak has no reason to concern himself with food fads. He’s been chicken frying bacon for ten years and eating bacon since before we were born. His love for the craft of southern cooking and perfect awareness of its position vis-a-vis the American heartbeat shines through any amount of memetic sensationalism as a primary source. If this isn’t where bacon belongs, I’m more than ready to cut a switch and clear some more room in its defense.

Sodolak’s Country Inn
9711 Fm. 60 Rd E.
Snook, TX 77878

FacebookMore Sharing Options

Comments

Jodi March 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Great post — the pics are straight up food porn and I enjoyed your take on chicken fried bacon enough to consider making that trek one day m’self! Great hanging out with you and your ice cream slinging band of friends. The food was delish, the company excellent, and ending it all with a creamsicle from your truck just made my day!

James March 24, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Thanks, Jodi! You should definitely drive out to Snook one day with Adam and co… it’ll take a hungry group to make good on everything Sodolak’s has to offer. No orange dream bars there, though :P

Dr. Knife March 24, 2009 at 11:19 pm

If you like bacon you will love the bracon. http://forladiesbyladies.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/a334_b4.jpg

Dave Gooch March 24, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Bravo

Miles March 27, 2009 at 10:22 am

This is killing me! I’ve known about this for a while but haven’t been able to get anyone to join me on the drive from New Orleans to Snook! I am afraid I will need a Designated Driver to get me home after ingesting that wonder…

Anonymous March 28, 2009 at 12:18 am

Here in College Station, Sodolak’s is a legend. Everyone needs to make the trip to have the chicken fried bacon at least once in their life. I was so happy to see your post on Tastespotting! I had to do a double-take :-) Good post!

And FYI, generally beef is dirt cheap in this part of Texas. For good deals on local beef, buy on the Texas A&M campus in the Rosenthal meat store. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can buy from a local 4-H Club or FFA (Future Farmers of America) in your area, the meat and poultry is unbelievable. The kids take incredible care of the animals and it truly comes through in the meat available for purchase. Totally worth the money.

James March 30, 2009 at 12:20 am

Anonymous- Thanks for the tips! I do plan on being back sometime in the future, so I’ll be sure to do some research on locally grown meat.

ICM March 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

yummmmm…
I want some more of that in my belly now. fresh or leftover
thanks for bringing some back to Austin

Aaron April 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm

My wife and I visit Sodolak’s often and we’re over 300 miles away. Get a big salad and crumble your chicken fried bacon on top. I accidentally ordered the medium chicken fried steak once.. it took two plates, but it was soooo good.

Sue August 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm

We went crazy over a chicken-fried bacon salad in a wonderful corner, open-air restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Sodolak’s isn’t near enough for us to drop by. Can you find the New Orleans recipe?

James Boo August 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Sue – Can’t say I’ll be much help here since I’m not a recipe blogger and I haven’t been to NOLA… I can’t imagine it would be too hard to de-construct, though :) Best of luck in revisiting that experience!

Anonymous February 12, 2011 at 5:18 am

They don’t use ounces in this steak house to measure food. What do they use?

Paulette July 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

Just saw this on Travel channel on my way to work. They said they don’t use ounces, they use pounds because the portions are so large…I believe they were primarily referring to the steak but quite possibly could’ve been referring to meat dishes they serve, in general.

Bob&Billie December 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm

We are from Okla and been to Baton Rouge and are spending the night in Galveston. Going to space center tommorrow 12-13-11 and are going to this place tommorrow. Saw it on travel channel and planned our trip to go to Snook TX to try this place out. Not going to eat all day so we will be able to down ever bite. Can’t WAIT!!

Bob & bILLIE December 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

if you can find it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,got to have ON STAR

Fsizzle November 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

my problem with battered bacon is that it doesn’t highlight the best part of bacon…the crunch! I wonder if anyone has tried frying the bacon first to get it crunchy, and then battering it before a quick trip to the deepfrier.

Bev in Houston February 7, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Can’t remember for sure where I first saw this, but I believe it was on “Texas Country Reporter”. Regardless……Husband and I made the 109-mile trip from our home north of Houston to Snook one day last spring (Being retired is wonderful!) to try the bacon. After only a bite or two we agreed the trip had been well worth it. Crunchy, yummy, unique…..the list of adjectives could go on and on.

Gary/Deanna Thornton November 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Gonna BE Making the trip this Wed, Nov 20 from gulf coaST, Webster, TX. It will be our first time there. Cannot waIT.

Leave a Comment

Older:

Newer: