It’s funny what becoming a parent has done to our eating out habits. My wife and I have always eaten out, probably too much by the standards of many. That changed drastically right after our son was born, mainly because we were too tired to try to go out to eat and it was easier to just bring something home or fix something quick at home. But once our son was a few months old and had proven himself to be a mostly happy little boy, we settled back into our habit of eating out more often than not. Just not at all of the same places, as for quite a while we were pretty self-conscious about the rare but inevitable crying. Having been the couple without kids for so long who looked askance at whining children in a restaurant and wished they were elsewhere, I especially did not want to receive those looks. As the veteran parent of a toddler now, I mostly don’t care about those looks.
Our eating out habits have changed, though, and I find that we eat at many places I would have ignored years ago, for reasons I wouldn’t have understood or cared about then. We like places where kids eat free or at a reduced price, and especially places with kids menus that include foods we know for sure our son will eat.
One such place is Steak ’n Shake. We normally eat there on Sundays after church because kids eat free on Sundays (more about that later) and because it is somewhat on the way home from church. Steak n Shake presents itself as a 50’s style diner and its main dish is the “steak burger” with extremely thin crispy french fries. They also serve a large variety of milkshakes. While they aren’t my favorite milkshakes, their peanut butter banana milkshake is pretty good.
The steakburger patties are fairly small, so instead of the original double, I usually go for the triple with pepper jack cheese. Is it the best hamburger in town? No way. But it’s isn’t bad, and it’s cheap and typically served with a smile. My son usually gets a hot dog (no bun) and a side of mac & cheese. They used to have a side of mandarin oranges and he loved them, but they stopped carrying them.
The service at Steak n Shake is pretty good. Some of the servers are better than others, but none are what I’d call bad. In fact, the only thing I could say I’m dissatisfied with at Steak n Shake is the fact that, even though they promote Sunday as a day kids eat free, for the last year, every time we get our check, there’s a charge for my son’s meal. When I take it to the register to pay, I point it out and they take it off, citing a possible computer glitch. I make sure we get the deal, but I can’t help but wonder how many people don’t check their receipts.
Steak n Shake is a fairly regular stop for us and as will be for at least as long as our son can eat there for free, and probably after.