Go Eat The Barnyard Slaughter (or Anything, Really) at Krystal Jo’s Diner Right Now
The family I headed to Flint's Krystal Jo's Diner on Fenton Road for breakfast the other day, because my wife kept hearing good things about the place and wanted to check it out. I did too, because I had only been in there briefly to pick up a take-out order. I'm glad we did. Eating take-out kind of robbed me of the experience of eating there, which is definitely part of its charm.
Krystal Jo's is not your typical restaurant. It's a very small place with limited seating and no wait staff. The walls are decorated with old car doors and quirky signs that say things like "A good friend will bail you out of jail. A real friend will sit right there with you and say that was fun." I'm paraphrasing a bit, but you get the picture.
There are no waitresses (at least not when I was there) and if you enter through the door in back you walk right through the kitchen, which reminds me of the off-the-beaten-path eateries my dad used to take me to when I was a kid. Also, they close at 4p and are not open Sunday. I told you they're not typical.
The most interesting part about Krystal Jo's is the kitchen, which is in the dining area and basically takes up half of their floor space. You can sit at the counter, which we did, and see your food being made on the flat top grill just feet away. The cooks take your order and then make everything right in front of you... and pretty much all of it is from scratch. They do everything from making fresh burger patties to cutting their own french fries and breakfast potatoes per order. That kind of effort and care for the food is rare in restaurants these days.
Being basically right there in the kitchen adds a fun element to the dining experience. It might be jarring for some, but I worked in kitchens for 13 years. Joking around with my fellow cooks and the weird camaraderie that comes along with it is one of the few things I miss about the job. So this very much felt like home to me. It's almost like you work there, but your job is to eat. That could be taken out-of-context, but I mean that in the best way possible. I had fun eating at Krystal Jo's.
During both of my visits this week, the main topic of conversation among the staff and patrons was the annual bike donation that they started a few years back. In four years they've gone from donating 40 bikes to kids the first year to almost 600 last year. It has become a pretty big deal in the community and there are a few fundraisers for it this year, the flyers for one of which were placed throughout the restaurant. If you want to have fun and donate to a good cause, definitely hit up the benefit show at The Machine Shop on March 31st.
Sorry, I'm rambling. I'll get to the food now.
When we came in for breakfast on Tuesday -- my skillet was great by the way -- I couldn't help but notice The Barnyard Slaughter on the menu. It was a ridiculous item that I couldn't even believe was on the menu -- a burger that's also stacked with a fried chicken breast, a fried egg, cheese, bacon, and some undisclosed veggies... ridiculous, right? Right then I looked at my wife and said, let's come back for lunch tomorrow. We did.
I had to order this burger, because the fact that it was even on the menu seemed like a challenge. It sits there all smug on the page like "I bet you won't." Well, I did and this thing was a beast.
Much to my surprise, it included everything menu promised and more. The chicken breast was not some pre-battered frozen patty -- it was probably a 6 or 8oz chicken breast grilled and then battered and fried to perfection. It was big enough to necessitate its own bun, but instead, it anchored down my burger, the other aforementioned toppings plus mayo, and your standard burger top set (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle).
Eating it was as difficult as I expected. The bun was falling apart, I kept getting yolk all over my hands and face... It wasn't pretty, but damn was it tasty. I eventually cut it in half and that made things a little easier. The difficulty of eating a behemoth like this is not a knock on the burger. Nobody goes into this kind of thing with the illusion that it's going to be easy. Items like this are usually little more than a novelty, so I was really happy that this was actually delicious.
My wife had the bacon burger, which is billed as coming with "bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon and more bacon" on the menu. It came with all that bacon and then some. She said the burger was very good and commented on how they had really good bacon. I agreed vigorously on both counts. Well, as vigorously as I could after having devoured over a pound of various grilled farm animals and staring down the business end of a well-earned food coma.
Burgers are one of the things you hear about most from Krystal Jo's -- and they do not disappoint. The breakfast is damn good too. It's a fun dining experience that you don't see much in these chain-restaurant-on-every-corner times. I highly recommend you make time to eat there. If you go in with an open mind and an empty stomach -- you'll have a good time and some good eats... Just maybe go in with smaller eyes than I had. That burger was A LOT to eat.