Screaming Chicken

Back in the Vietnam era, the 101st Airborne, basing a nickname on its open-beaked eagle shoulder patch, called itself The Puking Buzzards.  Evidently, the present-day 101st is calling itself The Screaming Chickens.

This has nothing to do with the military, or shoulders.  It's got a lot to do with the stomach.

The Screaming Chicken is a little espresso shop and cafe in Yelm, Washington.  It serves nothing unusual or unexpected.  But the dishes it does, it does right.

Friends and I, on a long survey run, were tired and hungry and needed caffeinating.  Everything else on what promises to become the Yelm strip-mall was unappetizing.  The usual McDonald clones.  But we'd passed the Screaming Chicken on the way out, and remembered it on the way in; the advantage of a nutty name.  We'll come to the reason for it later.

Two people ordered coffee, egg salad on a croissant, an omelet burrito and 1/2 an order of biscuits and gravy.

The coffee was just strong enough.  SC doesn't have quite as high an elbow as some mom & pop places we've been — they don't caffeinate constantly — but we had enough to keep us driving.

The biscuits and gravy were admittedly a shock.  I thought they'd accidentally brought me the full order.  A huge split biscuit, crisp on the bottom, brown on top, slathered — there is no other word for it — with lots of tender sausage bits in a smooth, light cream gravy.  And a crescent moon of perfectly browned buttery (I suspect flavored oil, but it tasted fine) hash browns that weren't even mentioned on the menu.  They weren't quite as good as the hash browns I enjoyed at a little hotel restaurant in San Jose, but then what is?  They came in a darn serious second, though.

We always share our orders.  The croissant, whether produced locally or ordered, was very light and high. The egg salad had just the right touch of dressing, and was chopped large.  A potato salad side didn't have too much of anything — not too much dill, not too much mustard.  The egg burrito was light and delicate, and not oily.

Ila Dawn, who owns and runs the place, passes the time with friends and customers at a table.  A cubby-hole den in the back features terra-cotta walls, a (I think) artificial fireplace and two big comfy sofas, and available toys and books.  Ila obviously has no trouble with customers sitting back and sucking coffee as her two lively waitresses keep an eye on things.

And — since we have to eat at these places — nice, clean, one-hole bathroom, too.

Oh, yes.  Ila says The Screaming Chicken is the coffee.  It'll wake you up like a very determined rooster.

Ila Dawn's Screaming Chicken Espresso & Cafe, 203 Yelm Avenue West, Yelm, WA.  360 458 966.

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