The following short is a flash fiction story brought to you by a civil debate between friends on the merits of the bread offerings of Texas Roadhouse, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden. For my part, I wrote on what is unquestionably my first choice: Texas Roadhouse. I will add links to my companion’s stories once they are both completed.
It is not the bread alone that we covet. The white, fluffy mounds of dough piping hot and steaming, encased within a delicate sheath of golden brown delight. Delicious on its own, yes, but decidedly unremarkable. It takes a masterful baker, likely a grandparent or great grandparent with fifty or so years of dedication to the craft, to truly be able to offer a loaf of bread that is, on its own, a masterpiece. For the rest of humanity where such skills are lost or disregarded, we rely heavily on the concept of bread as a vehicle for greatness.
That is what brings me to this place, time and again. I am drawn to the Texas Roadhouse, not because I am one who can afford steak on the regular, but because of their soft warm buns, heaped in unassuming baskets and freely given, alongside that butter—oh, that butter.
Butter alone is capable of bringing many dishes to the next level. Butter is magical, bringing families together, making vegetables previously scorned by picky children suddenly a sought-after side dish. It can, with little effort beyond melting pleasantly into a golden liquid, turn the unpalatable to pleasant, the unremarkable to renowned, the dull to divine.
So how, then, if we should take these two delightful foods and combine them? Naturally an irresistible combination, bread and butter is a staple in many homes. Simply behold how easily upon its many qualities I wax eloquent and you shall understand the passion I hold for this, the most estimable of carbohydrate and fat combinations.
And yet, someone at Texas Roadhouse was not satisfied to stop at merely estimable. They wanted to bring their bread and butter game up a notch to unforgettable. Behold, cinnamon butter. That sweet note to bring completion to the perfect craving trifecta, fat-sugar-carb. Oh, wondrous of wonders.
“Could we get another basket, please?” I ask cheerfully before the first one has even been set down. I am already reaching, knife in hand, preparing my tastebuds for the pleasure they are about to experience. I slather that creamy cinnamon richness on thick and unashamedly, knowing that more is to be had with but a simple request to our hostess. For at this moment I am not a customer, not a diner, not at home lovingly preparing a meal for my family. I have no thought for the entree, nor what to order for my children. Not yet, not until I’ve had that first taste. I am a Queen just now, enjoying the rich rewards of my station.
Everything else can wait.
When the meal is through, the last of the buns tucked neatly into take out boxes alongside barely touched dinners, that little plastic butter cup carefully wedged in a corner, I tip handsomely because the bread was brought freely and repeatedly and without any condescension or disapproving looks concerning my shameful gluttony. I pass the kitchen, where a shining stainless steel counter holds a bounty of bun baskets, each waiting to bring joy to another patron of this fine establishment.
“I will be back,” I whisper to those baskets, feeling the weight of too many of their brethren, heavy in my stomach.
“Are you talking to the bread again?” my husband inquires, glancing sideways at me with a worried expression.
“Never you mind,” I reply dismissively. “It’s none of your concern.”