Hangover Helper: Goetta and Eggs at Anchor Grill, Covington KY
"That is as greasy spoon (not in a good way) as a place gets," a local friend texted when I'd told him I was headed over to the Anchor Grill, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky. My retort: "I will defend to the death my love of Anchor."
"We may doze but we never close" is their motto, and the breakfast done all day part of the deal brings people from all walks in at all hours. There's a reason Anchor's been in business for 67 years now—they know how to fry eggs, crisp goetta, and brown potatoes really well. And while cooking goetta expertly isn't necessarily so difficult we need to Food Lab it for you, it does take some finessing. Goetta—made for three generations primarily by the Glier's family facility across the street—is a combination of beef and pork parts, cooked with steel cut oats and spices and formed into a log that's then sliced, pan-fried and devoured. Slice it too thinly and it cooks almost into a tortilla chip. Get the heat wrong and it will either quickly blacken on the outside and be raw inside or cook through in a sad, limp way. But sliced well and griddled at the right temperature, it's crispy on the outside, warm on the inside, and has a balance of starch, meat and salt that in certain situations you might just have to order an extra side. Or two.
The egg platter ($10.07 including tax) comes with options: 2 eggs done how you want them, cheese or onions in the potatoes, a long slab of well-browned goetta, and white, wheat, rye, or biscuits and gravy as your extra dose of starch. The biscuits can be a bit dry and chalky, but lumpy gravy, plenty of Smuckers jam packets and butter easily right that wrong. Toast works a bit better for swiping runny egg. The potatoes have plenty of both crisp and soft parts, but they're just on the gentle side of salty, so that you can add more or slather them in ketchup. Getting a fork of everything together is really your best bet, and one person can easily polish off a platter when in the throes of alcohol burn.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the vacant and clean experience of day, this is a hopping joint to play in at night. If you come in after 4 p.m., people can—and do—smoke cigarettes inside, so, yeah, you'll enjoy your food a bit more if things are slightly fuzzy. The main dining room has working personal jukeboxes at every table, and throw a buck in the big one by the front door and a puppet band that's been there all 67 years will show you their stuff.
Cincinnati has a decent brunch scene, and Covington has a few spots that are tame and play breakfast food safe. But as greasy spoon as it gets? Amen.