Before living in Texas, Don and I spent many years traveling 1-44 to Missouri from Oklahoma.
The billboards for Lambert's, with images of hot rolls being tossed about, made me curious and hungry. But we never had time to stop, until our midwest road trip in fall of 2014.
Time to Pose
Not only did we have time to stop for lunch, we had time for me to pose with the Amish buggy in front.
I really have no idea what that buggy has to do with Lambert's. And I also don't know why I would include this photo, since I look painfully awkward in that hideous outfit.
History of The Roll Throwing Cafe
There's lots to feast your eyes on when you walk in the doors. I liked this painting of Earl & Agnes Lambert, who opened Lambert's Cafe in 1942.
It was their son Todd, who started throwing rolls back in the '70's, when he took over the biz. He was carrying a panful of rolls through the cafe one day, when a hungry diner just couldn't wait. The man hollered to Todd to just throw him a roll and the rest is history.
Today, the (newer) restaurant clearly holds more than 9 stools and 8 tables. There were at least 2 rooms with rows of wooden tables and benches.
The walls were covered with framed photos and art. High above, a tooting train, flags, airplanes, a rusty tricycle and a hobby horse filled the space.
We knew this place was serious about food, when we looked at our table holding a roll of paper towels and 2 baskets stuffed with condiments.
The real indication that food was the focus, was in the number of bow-tie wearing servers, flying back and forth, with big bowls and cans and platters of this and that.
All the foods that had been whizzing by, began to make stops at our table. While we waited for our food order, we had our first offering of what they call pass-arounds, which are basically side dishes.
Looking like obvious first-timers, Claudia had to tell us to lay out a piece of paper towel before she plopped out a few spoonfuls of fried okra. I asked how long she'd been working at Lambert's. Claudia said she started about 10 years ago, but sheremembered coming to the cafe as a child, for special occasions. Now, it's her kids who want to come to Lambert's for birthdays.
Of all the foods coming around, I was most intrigued by the dented can holding the drippy molasses sorghum! To me that looked like the most fun pass-around to serve. Evidently there is no real favorite of serving jobs.
Claudia said she'd never had much success with roll throwing. She teased about trying to get demoted to okra handouts. I should have asked what made her like the okra job. She was fun and friendly, so I doubt she was demoted.
I'd been warned about all the festive pass-around foods and rolls, so I ordered light. But look at my salad! It was served in a giant pie-sized, bread bowl.
The greens were heaping with strips of meat, veggies and cheese. Don's chicken salad came with green beans and cucumber salad. Hardly room for pass-arounds.
My Plate O Pass-Arounds!
I had to have an extra plate to hold my goodies.
Besides okra, I had fried potaters, lima beans, macaroni & tomato, apple butter... and that was before my hot rolls arrived.
This was the part I was waiting for. I suddenly heard his voice from behind, "Hot Rolls!" I turned to see the young man smiling near his rolling cart of bread.
I waved that I was ready, but he seemed to be wheeling up too close. "Go back a ways!" I encouraged, wanting a little more fun in my experience.
And he was happy to oblige. I'm not sure if you can see him, way back there. But I did manage to catch the hot roll. I was surprised. It came fast and hard and HOT! I knew from chatting with Claudia that not everyone gets to be a roll thrower.
She said the job usually goes to baseball and football players. Our thrower admitted he wasn't always so good. Another roll thrower admitted he'd knocked over a few drink glasses. I didn't pry about any worse mishaps, but evidently there have been some feisty customers who have tried to sue Lambert's over thrown roll injuries. Maybe one should avoid restaurants that advertise "throwed rolls" if you're so worried about bread injuries.
Appealing to the Kid in Me
Miniature tractors and farm murals sort of delight me.
Maybe some would find this restaurant atmosphere a little corny and gimmicky. But the whole lunch experience appealed to my younger self. In other words, I've never really grown up.
A Trip to the Restroom!
I would have so loved Lambert's when I was a child. As a kid, I could turn the hunt for a restaurant bathroom or even my hand-washing experience into an adventure.
I always assumed my reports were worth sharing when I returned to my family. As a young Beth at Lambert's, I would have had bigger things to talk about than the color of the soap. I would have told about the giant footprints I followed towards the neon sign. Then I would laughed about the stairs I didn't get to climb, because they were painted on the wall. I would have had to explain how I'd "gotten lost", for a while in the gift shop... and that's what took me so long to get back.
What I'll Remember Best
There was lots to absorb during our lunch visit.
I'll remember the staff in their suspenders and bow ties, being friendlier than ever. And I'll remember the food being almost ridiculously plentiful!
And of course I'll remember catching those rolls!
Out of all my dining adventures, I've never had an opportunity to catch food!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.