It’s National Egg Month, and in the first year of the Iowa Egg Council’s Most Egg-cellent Omelet in Iowa contest, which garnered over 300 nominations last month, Colo’s favorite “Ma and Pa” restaurant was named among the Top 10.
Country House, located along Highway 30 just west of Colo, will, sometime this month, be evaluated by a panel of anonymous judges, who will be looking at each restaurant’s omelets and judging them on taste, appearance/presentation and proper cooking temperature. The judges’ scores and comments will be accumulated and the winner will be announced on June 3, National Egg Day.
Just being in the Top 10 is an honor for Country House owners, John and Sandy Fritz, who will, this coming September, have owned this restaurant for 26 years, after buying it from Judy Morrison.
“Any time that you are mentioned as doing something well in your field of expertise, it’s nice,” said John, who wants to also credit his other cooks, Justin Branon, Jessie Shore and Martha Galecki, as making a lot of the restaurant dishes. “They do a great job.”
But John, who with his wife has been in the restaurant industry for 46 years — he as a chef at some well established hotels in his earlier years — said there’s no magic or anything fancy about what they do to make a great omelet.
“We buy the best quality products we can buy, use the freshest ingredients we can … we want to do things right,” he said.
Each omelet starts with three grade A eggs. Most who order like the basics, either ham, bacon and/or sausage as a meat, and cheese. Country House uses at least 2 ounces of shredded mild cheddar on every omelet, but can put several other types of cheeses in by request for an extra charge.
Then, just about any vegetable or plant-based ingredient can be added that a person wants — onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms — whatever you like to have in it.
Served from mid-spring to fall is a special asparagus omelet that has become a favorite of many Country House customers. “The asparagus omelet is the best around. I look forward to it every spring,” commented Shelly Matuska on the Nevada Journal Facebook page. “I love the asparagus omelet. It is the best ever,” commented Sandi Lawrence. And others shared similar comments.
Big chunks of ham (he puts a full meat serving in every one of his omelets), lots of cheese and four to five big cut up stalks of asparagus in it, are what is used in the asparagus omelet.
Omelets are served every day as part of the breakfast menu, and breakfast is served every weekday from 6-11 a.m. and on weekends from 7-11 a.m. Sandy adds, however, that the time they stop serving breakfast may be sooner on Sundays, as they often have a large lunch crowd that day that starts coming in early and they have to switch over to the lunch menu a little sooner to accommodate everyone.
With their recognition coming from the Iowa Egg Council, John spends a few minutes talking about how important eggs, really good eggs, are for the restaurant business. “I get my eggs from reputable supply houses, and if they’re not good … I have them replaced. I keep my eye on that stuff,” he said.
Eggs are a basic component of the restaurant’s egg wash that they make to coat many of the deep fried items on their menu. Hard-boiled eggs are a component of their house salads, which are a popular item, especially with those who love the restaurant’s unique house dressing and homemade croutons. Eggs are an ingredient in the restaurant’s much-loved homemade bread loaves, which each table receives with dinner meals.
And, Sandy adds, she takes about three egg flats to her kitchen at home each week, where she makes all the restaurant’s desserts. Her home kitchen, she said, has been inspected for that purpose, and restaurant patrons know how incredible her desserts are. “I often add more eggs to a batter just to make things taste a little better,” she admits.
John estimates that they go through about 15 dozen eggs a day and at least 1,000 eggs a week.
Bottom line — the Fritzes love what they do and the smiles they put on people’s faces when they are enjoying a home-cooked meal. They’re not much for being in the spotlight and they never nominated themselves for this honor or for the honor they received several years back for making one of the best tenderloins in the state. But they do appreciate that people love their food enough to nominate the restaurant in these contests.
They simply consider themselves lucky to be doing what they love, to have customers who appreciate what they do and to have a staff that is second to none.