Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 47 - Kraft's Hot Corner

I have never been to Kraft’s Hot Corner. While most people will not recognize the name of this establishment, the small eatery located in Randolph, Wisconsin has always been a point of curiosity for me. Formerly the Galaxy Drive-in, Kraft’s Hot Corner was one of those places I encountered growing up but never had the chance to try. In fact, as a kid I remember driving by the little walk-up restaurant each time my school would play Randolph in a sporting event and wondering what kind of food they offered. This thought continued well into my adult years as I would drive past the restaurant periodically on my visits home. Although I thought my chance to stop at the restaurant had passed when the Galaxy closed several years ago, I knew I had to make a visit to the restaurant when it opened under the new name Kraft’s Hot Corner little more than a year ago. This evening I was afforded that opportunity as Rachael and I made our way back to Green Lake to spend a weekend at the lake house with Rachael’s siblings.


Kraft's

Our visit to Kraft’s Hot Corner started simply enough. Before leaving for the lake house, Rachael, her sister Sarah, her brother-in-law Zeke, and I decided we would make a stop at Kraft’s for dinner this evening. In turn, we drove a little more than half way to the lake until we came upon the small brown building tucked neatly into the corner of a city block near the heart of the Randolph community. Upon arriving, Rachael and I pulled our car alongside Sarah and Zeke’s car in one of the restaurants few parking stalls. Looking forward to a meal after a busy afternoon of packing and driving, the four of us exited our respective vehicles and rounded the corner of the building.


Ordering...
Each of us quickly set to work reviewing the menu items painted on a series of white signs attached to the building’s face. As we stood discussing the menu items a woman’s voice gave a spirited greeting from behind a small screened window. “Hello there! How are you?” the woman asked with a smile. After returning the gesture the four of us began asking short questions about the menu and the establishment. The woman responded to each and asked us some questions about what brought us to Kraft’s. Sarah immediately began explaining my “I have never...” objectives and my curiosity about the establishment before us. Acknowledging my role in the conversation, I stepped closer to the window as the woman explained Kraft’s emergence following the closure of the galaxy drive-in. With a sense of pride in her voice, the woman explained the restaurant was a family affair with a focus on making good meals for local residents and visitors alike. She stated the group running the restaurant, three in total, made all of the menu items from all-natural, fresh ingredients in their effort to meet that goal. Surprised at the level of commitment and passion held by the restaurant’s owners, our enthusiasm for trying our first meal from Kraft’s Hot Corner grew. As a result, our group quickly settled on our menu choices after a little more discussion and contemplation. With that, we placed our orders, took a seat at a nearby picnic table, and waited for our meals to be prepared.

Briefly after taking our position at the picnic table, the familiar sound of the woman’s voice called from the small screen window. Only minutes after placing their order, Sarah and Zeke’s bacon and bleu cheese burger and stuffed six pepper burger we ready. Sarah promptly walked up to the window and grabbed the white paper bag containing their food before returning to the picnic table. Rachael and I watched on as the two of them laid out their respective meals and divvied up the hand cut French fries one of them had ordered. I looked over the fresh ingredients and high quality bread that made up the individual sandwiches in anticipation of my meal. Based on my initial observations, it became clear to me Kraft’s was anything but a small town greasy spoon.


So good...
A few minutes after Sarah and Zeke received their food the woman returned to the window again and called me over. I jogged over to the window as the woman open the window and placed another white bag on the counter. I thanked the woman as I took the bag into my arms and returned to the table. I opened the bag just before sitting down and handed Rachael her chicken sandwich. Digging deeper into the bag I grabbed my cheddar burger and French fries. Finally, at the bottom of the bag I located Rachael’s order of jalapeño poppers. After handing out the food I opened the container housing my burger and gave it a once over. Everything about it looked delicious. The meat was light and lean, the cheddar was a beautiful golden color, and the bread was soft. Even before taking my first bite I knew I was in for a treat.

All of our food at the ready, the four of us began pecking away at our meals between conversations. As a sucker for soaking in the experience, I was the last in the group to take a bite from my meal, and I found it to be everything I expected. The sandwich melted in my mouth as the perfectly done beef blended with the cheese and the slightly buttered bun to make one of the best tasting burgers I have had in years. Enjoying each bite of our meals, everyone in our group periodically commented on how delicious they found every aspect of the meal. Eventually, Rachael and I traded some French fries and a jalapeño popper to round out our experience with the food. After grabbing a popper from the small paper bag in front of Rachael, I threw it in my mouth and bit down. The crisply fried, fresh pepper snapped in my mouth as the hot flavor rolled across my tongue. Like everything else I had encountered at Kraft’s, it was delicious.


How good was it? This good.
With the evening sun casting the last races of light across the front of Kraft’s Hot Corner, Rachael, Sarah, Zeke, and I wrapped up our meals and continued our trip to Green Lake. As we pulled away from the restaurant I commented on the surprising nature of our experience at Kraft’s. Rachael replied, stating everything about the meal was unexpected. After a brief pause she continued, “...honestly, that was probably the best chicken sandwich I have ever had.” Although surprised by her remark for a brief moment, I understood her comment as I thought back over the meal. “Well, we’ll have to stop there again, huh?” I asked with a grin on my face. In response, Rachael let out a succinct “Definitely” as her eyes turned toward the phone in her hand. After a brief pause she continued, “With food that good there is no reason not to…” Realizing I couldn’t sum up my first experience at Kraft’s any better than that, I turned my focus back to the road. The rest of our journey before us, I thought about the wise choice in making Kraft’s Hot Corner a part of my “I have never…” journey. It was a long time coming, but somehow it was worth the wait. Needless to say, this experience will be a repeat occurrence in future trips to my haunts of days gone by.

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