Friday, October 27, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #103 - Norske Nook aka Open Your Pie Hole

Sandwich: Smothered Omelete Lefse Wrap
Location: Norske Nook (Deforest)
Date: October 25, 2017
Cost: I forgot to look. I guess I can't complain about the cost.

If you're talking about Norske Nook you're talking about pie and that's the way it should be. It turns out they have a full menu although that menu does not contain a breakfast sandwich. Maybe that's not how the Norwegians roll. Ingen frokost sandwich. They do have something called the Lefse-dilla which is probably exactly what we think it is but I didn't order it or actually see one.

An omelete lefse wrap is in no way a sandwich. I'm not even sure it's a thing - I think Norske Nook is just making shit up (see "lefse-dilla" if you doubt that)! Nobody is claiming it's a sandwich. That's OK, we're at sandwich #103 and at this point the rules were made to be broken. There have already been reviews of crepes and open-faced sandwiches. Maybe I'll review a breakfast hot dog soon and that sure as heck is not a sandwich.

Nobody cares. We should talking about pie.

I forgot to take a photo of the menu but I can tell you that my omelete lefse wrap included scrambled egg, hash browns, sausage, cheese and was topped with hollandaise sauce.

This is not a sandwich or a piece of pie and I'm not sure why we're even looking at it. Do you like your pie al a mode or a la hollandaise? That's just gross. 
The Sandwich - Smothered Omelete Lefse Wrap. Right off the bat I'm going to admit to not being a big fan of hollandaise. I have only had one previous sandwich with hollandaise and that was almost exactly two years ago to this date. That's the last time I had hollandaise sauce. Maybe it's better in its natural habitat as part of eggs benedict. It should probably be confined to that usage, a guy like me doesn't need to see it all over the place. I'm biased. Maybe you feel otherwise. Anyway, what about this non-sandwich wrap? I would have liked the hash browns crispier and the chicken eggs were scrambled which makes sense for this wrap but isn't how I like them. The sausage was unassuming which isn't what I'm looking for in a cased meat product. Then there is the hollandaise, which struck me as an afterthought but does add some needed viscosity to the whole affair. Without it I may have been tempted to do something dumb like put ketchup on this which doesn't really make sense but brings us back around full circle to the thought of "does this lefse wrap make sense?"

The Result - 3 Pie Holes out of 5 Pie Holes. I haven't even mentioned the pie yet which is really what I should have been talking about the entire time. Wait. This wrap was fine. It was just OK. It was not greater than the sum of its parts in fact it may have been lesser than the sum of its parts. I'm sounding harsher than I mean to. It does seem a bit unfair to be overly critical of a non-sandwich on a sandwich blog, and I honestly don't mean to be. This wrap lacked personality. Not even the jaunty hollandaise sauce could put a twinkle in it's eye but ultimately it was fine. 

The Pie - They aren't messin' around when comes to pie at Norske Nook. The placemat (photo not available) is the entire list of pies that might be available including "retired" pies. The retired pies are apparently not really retired but are not as available as they used to be. I think they're consultants at this point. Then there are all the other pies - cream pies, fruit pies, mixtures of cream and fruit and so forth. It's confusing and overwhelming. Some pies are seasonal. It's like some kind of game show. You just have to ask what they have that day and invariably your first choice is not available. I was prepared for this and it's exactly what happened. My second choice was also not available. I think it might be some kind of social experiment - no matter what you order they say they don't have it. In reality there is some pie-obsessed madman in back who has baked every damn kind of pie on earth and he just wants to see your reaction when you are denied. Children cry, old people get angry and the pie guy laughs his fool head off. I want his job

I ended up ordering a slice of classic blueberry pie (photo not available) and I was fine with that. Here is the best part - when you order your pie they ask "would you like that warm and with ice cream?" This is where the madman redeems himself. Once you get your warm pie with two adorable scoops of ice cream you forgive him for making a mockery of your pie plight. His gales of derision are forgotten with each bite and when your plate is clean you think "he wasn't so crazy after all".

I think I have the makings of a Norwegian style fairy tale going here - "Gal Kake Mann"

Monday, October 9, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #102 - Bob Evans aka Rubber Biscuit

Sandwich: Sausage Egg & Cheese
Location: Bob Evans
Date: October 1, 2017
Cost: $2.29

I wasn't even planning on having a breakfast sandwich this day. I was at the grocery store looking for my favorite flatbread but they had rearranged the bakery/bread section so I was jabbing around deep in the back corner of the store. I found the flat bread next to a refrigerated deli case that I generally pay no mind. That's when I saw individually wrapped Bob Evans Breakfast Sandwiches. Sometimes the sandwich finds you.

We don't have Bob Evans restaurants here, the store locator on the web site says there isn't one within 100 miles of me. Because of that, I have never been to a Bob Evans restaurant and I'm OK with that.
It's kind of cute.

I think I microwaved it a little too long The cheese was beyond melty.

That sausage patty looks as grey and gristly as Donald Trumps soul. 
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg and Cheese. The instructions said microwave for 60 to 75 seconds. I went with 75 as my microwave is old and on the weaker side. That was probably a bit too long, the cheese liquefied, but the sandwich was plenty hot. There isn't much positive I can relate about this sandwich. The sausage tasted OK but the big takeaway was that the whole thing was just too chewy. It actually had a rubbery texture. The entire sandwich. It think each component was rubbery, with the exception of the now liquefied cheese. Rubber Biscuit, indeed. The muffin looks toasted but did not have the texture of toasted bread. I'm not going to waste any more time talking about this. I didn't enjoy it.

The Result - 1.83 Rubber Biscuits out of 5 Rubber Biscuits. I've had worse sandwiches but this one is down there at the bottom. Maybe if it was warmed in a toaster oven it would have taken on a different tone, but that wasn't an option listed for heating it. The only instructions were for microwave.  I can't believe I've made it to sandwich #102 and this is the first time "Rubber Biscuit" popped into my head. It was probably milling around my subconscious waiting for an opportunity and then it sprung at just the right moment. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #101 - Dobhan aka Hamaste

Sandwich: Dobhan Egg Sandwich
Location: Dobhan
Date: September 17, 2017
Cost: $9, with greens

Everything I've had at Dobhan has been delicious and yet I've only gone there a few times. I did have breakfast there several years ago, long before this sandwich quest began, and I did not have a breakfast sandwich. This is an amazing story so far, right? It's a real page turner (mouse scroller?).

I looked at the menu prior to going and I was hoping there would be some kind of Lamb & Egg Dosa special that I could pretend was a sandwich. I've reviewed crepes before and a dosa is about the same thing so that was my hope for the morning. That's right, I went into this planning to skirt the rules. Well, it didn't happen that way so I have no need to justify eating a dosa.
There was dosa, to be sure, just not the dosa I hoped for. 

Very pretty indeed.

Hamaste? That's really a stretch. Listen, I'm phoning this one in, OK?
The Sandwich - Dobhan Egg Sandwich. No options are offered. There were a couple of mysteries with this sandwich. The biggest is the ham - other items on the menu offer Nueske's ham, the sandwich only lists "ham", which was a single slice of what appeared to be standard deli ham. It could have ben Nueske ham but I really don't know. The other mystery is that the sandwich had cheese on it, which was not listed on the menu. I'm certainly not opposed to adding cheese to a sandwich, or pretty much anything other than say, toothpaste. In this case I think it was a swiss cheese. The chicken egg was hard scrambled, the tomato was juicy and in season, and the avocado was perfectly ripe. The lightly toasted sourdough bread buttressed everything handily and was a welcome choice. I can't remember the last time I had a breakfast sandwich on sourdough but I think it's an excellent vehicle for eggs and their friends. Oh yes, the greens. I always like greens with my breakfast sandwich and these were particularly fresh and sprightly.

The Result - 3.965 mystery hams out of 5 mystery hams. This was a good sandwich but I was slightly confused about the ham and the cheese. The ham was essentially lost among the other flavors with the sourdough, egg, tomato and avocado stepping to the forefront. And that was OK, it was tasty, but there was still a whiff of confusion. 

I don't know, maybe I really just wanted a lamb and egg dosa and I'm taking out my frustrations on the ham.



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #100 - Players Sports Bar aka Divine Non-Intervention

Sandwich: Buzzy with Bacon
Location: Players Sports Bar & Grill
Date: September 16, 2017
Cost: $7.50, with cheesy hash browns

Whoa. 100 sandwiches is a lot of sandwiches to review so excuse me while I pat myself on the back and dab my eyes with a slightly greasy napkin. Just give me a minute to pull myself together. I couldn't have done it without all of you and those amazing people who get up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to make sandwiches for all of us. With apologies to Kevin Durant, they are the real MVP. Actually, I could have done it without you, but I appreciate you reading these things anyway. I'm not sure they serve a purpose or fulfill a greater good but here we are. We have sifted and winnowed and fought and cried and I think we are better people for it. Truly.

I thought my 100th review should be special. I wasn't sure what that would be, but I started thinking about it sometime around sandwich #95. I ruled out going to McDonald's for the 6th time.

And then an opportunity presented itself. Through casual conversation I learned that The Buzzy Sandwich at Players is named after a person named Buzzy. The person that told me this also knows Mr. Buzzy and the Buzzy family. You might recall that this endeavor began with a Buzzy Sandwich back on New Years Day, 2015 and I reviewed The Buzzy again 20 months later just to see how things were holding up. A discussion was started about how I might have a Buzzy with Mr. Buzzy. I'm not one to believe in invisible forces that somehow interject themselves into our daily lives but this was a pretty strong signal from the Sandwich Gods, or whoever. This would be how sandwich #100 goes down. Unless it isn't.

I may not believe in divine intervention but I firmly believe that timing plays a crucial role in our lives. Everything is about timing. Meeting the right person at the right time in your life can lead to blissful love, a new career or playing harmonica with Yo-Yo Ma. Whatever. But the timing has to be right. If the timing is off, you got nothing. So, while I say I don't believe in divine intervention I do believe in divine non-intervention, or something like that. 

All of this is leading up to me saying that I did not have a Buzzy with Mr. Buzzy. So it goes. I did, however, have a Buzzy sandwich.

Sandwich-ku:
Jaunty triangles
Tantalizing purity
The Buzzy sandwich

"You sure do look purdy".
The Sandwich - The Buzzy with bacon. Important note!! I did not take a photo of the menu but The Buzzy is no longer offered with sausage but it is now available with a hamburger patty. That sounds pretty damn tasty but it did get me to thinking about how it would all hold together. The Texas toast is substantial and would probably be up to the task but there is no substitute for testing your theories in the field. Your other option is ham. As with my previous Buzzy sandwiches, I selected bacon. For my 100th sandwich (pause for applause) I thought I should pay tribute to my original sandwich and get back to my roots. Sometimes when you're on a long journey it's good to pause and reflect on where you started. Hence, the bacon. No regrets. There isn't much to say about this sandwich that I haven't already said. The chicken eggs were cooked a little more than I prefer but there was plenty of cheese to offset that (note the photo - there is a cheese slice top AND bottom. That is advanced level sandwiching.) The bacon, egg and cheese ratios blend perfectly and the Texas toast is the proper vehicle to get this crammed into your maw. If I have any complaint is that it's a touch too salty. I think maybe it's the toast that pushes the sodium level in to the red line.

The Result - 4.5 Divine Non-Interventions out of 5 Divine Non-Interventions. This was an excellent sandwich. They are very consistent with The Buzzy and that is important. It was only the saltiness that kept this rating at 4.5 which is still an amazing ranking. There may or may not have been a single salty tear that ran down down my cheek and onto my sandwich, the result of not meeting Mr. Buzzy. You can't argue with timing though, and when the time is right, I believe I will meet Mr. Buzzy.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #99 - Starbucks aka Maybe You've Heard Of It

Sandwich: Sausage, Egg and Cheddar
Location: Starbucks (East Washington Ave.)
Date: September 12, 2017
Cost: $3.45

I think Starbucks is the last national chain for me to visit in the Madison area. I hope so, at least. I need to be free of these chains. There are a few local places I've been meaning to get to but time has not allowed and Starbucks was an easy stop before work. I needed to put this notch in my sandwich belt so I could move on to actual cafes and restaurants. Please God - do not allow Arby's to start selling breakfast sandwiches in the Madison area.

So, there I was at Starbucks. The line for the drive thru was predictably long at 8:15 am but I was planning on going inside anyway. I didn't want to lose whatever freshness the sandwich might have had by waiting until I got to work to eat it.

They have several choices of breakfast sandwich. I had no idea. I guess I don't go to Starbucks very often. I was in the mood for sausage so I didn't think about it too much. (Also, I've been making bacon-based sandwiches at home lately but not writing about them as they aren't really lab experiments. I haven't been pushing the sandwich envelope, just making simple, tasty sandwiches. Pro tip - if you're going to cook your chicken egg inside a Mason jar lid to get that "perfect puck" egg, use plenty of non-stick spray or your egg will stick to the lid and it tears the edges apart and it looks like it's been nibbled by vermin.)

Kinda sad looking.

I didn't have a knife so this was cut with my incisors. It was not nibbled by vermin. 
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg and Cheddar. These sandwiches come out of sealed plastic bag so while you have several choices you don't have any options once you have made your selection. Starbucks isn't really a food place - everything comes out of bag from a kitchen factory somewhere. For all I know this sandwich was assembled by robots. The chicken egg was exactly what you expect for a pre-packaged sandwich (if you're new to this blog that isn't a good thing.) The microwave setting melted the cheese perfectly - kudos to the Starbucks lab technicians who tested that down to the microsecond. The sandwich was nice and hot. The sausage was actually pretty good. It hit the spot I was hoping it would. Despite being microwaved the English Muffin held up fairly well and wasn't soggy. This is by no means a messy sandwich so it really didn't have it's mettle tested, but it worked.

The Result - 2.75 Breaking The Chains out of 5 Breaking The Chains. This sandwich was fine. It was OK. It was actually tasty in some ways. I can see how it would tide you over until lunch if you're on your way to work. But, it's a $2.75 sandwich masquerading as a $3.45 sandwich. That's not cutting it for this reporter. I swipe left. (I'm going to assume there is a sandwich blog out there where the reviewer either "swipes left" or "swipes right" on a sandwich and that is the review. I'm not going to Google it. You go ahead though. If that doesn't exist it seems like a perfectly good idea for some snarky millennial to pursue.)

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #98 - Ian's Pizza aka Nobody Thinks Pizza Is Sandwich

Sandwich: Breakfast Pizza - Denver Omelet, Meat Lovers.
Location: Ian's Pizza (State Street)
Date: July 29, 2017
Cost: $4

Pizza isn't sandwich. Nobody thinks it is. There is no reason to discuss this further.

A better topic might be to discuss the validity of "breakfast pizza". Breakfast pizza has been around for awhile (I know that is vague but I'm simply not going to do any research on this) and it's popular enough to warrant several options in the freezer section at your local grocer, but I feel it is a relatively new offering at local pizzarias. I believe it is new to Ian's, but it's also available at Glass Nickel, and there is a pie at Salvatore's called "Carbonara" that has soft cooked eggs on it. I've heard Echo Tap has one as well but it's not shown on their menu. There are probably others, but again, I just don't care to do the research. You should though. Please do, and report back with your findings. You have an assignment now. This is fun. I have faith in you.

Straight out of the gate I have to reveal my bias. I think all pizza is breakfast pizza and am firmly in the camp that believes cold pizza is a good breakfast. I've always felt this way and have proudly and happily munched on cold pizza for breakfast hundreds of times. This will never change.

I can't remember when I first heard about breakfast pizza, it was likely many years ago, and honestly, I can't recall what my thoughts were at the time. My opinion now, as I sit here as a respected (not true) and renowned (also not true) reviewer of breakfast sandwiches, is that it's somewhat gimmicky. It strikes me as an attempt to mix two different foods to create a new Superfood that is somehow better than the sum of it's parts, e.g. Taco Pizza. (Note - I have had tasty Taco Pizza but ultimately I want either tacos, or pizza, in their traditional form.) I suppose this says more about me than anything else and I am not categorically against blending of foods if that's what you're into*. If you want a Turkey Club Pizza I think you should have it. That's wonderful. There will be no pizza or sandwich shaming for that. I reserve sandwich shaming for terrible sandwiches, which are sadly all too plentiful.

With that in mind I biked up to the Farmer's Market on an absolutely perfect Saturday morning with the sole goal of trying some breakfast pizza. I wanted to make the trip worth my time so I ordered two slices.
Denver Omelette.

Meat Lovers.
The Slices - Denver Omelette and Meat Lovers. This was a tough decision. There were four slices I was considering. I knew I wanted to try two but three sounded like way too much. I passed on the Biscuits & Gravy option although I was tempted by the bulbous outcroppings of presumably flaky biscuit. The other temptation was the Mediterranean Delight with those salty kalamata olives. At no point did I consider the Huevos Rancheros pizza.

Denver Omelette - Tator Tots, Bell Peppers, Onions, Pepper, Ham, Eggs, & Cheddar Cheese. Those little tater tot bites pretty much sealed the deal on this one. Anything that reminds me of Potato Ole's is going to make a strong case for itself although the taste of the tots kind of got lost in everything here. I expected this to be salty due to the ham and tots, and while it was, it also had a slightly sweet flavor. Maybe that was the crust? The peppers had a nice crunch to them and the peppers and onion are the predominant flavors. The egg is supposed to take the place of the tomato sauce but it just doesn't work for me. Maybe it's a mental block on my part - expecting the regular saucy flavor and texture and not getting it. It's not an omelette and it's not pizza. Omelezza?

Meat Lovers - Breakfast Sausage, Bacon, Wisconsin Maple Syrup, & Eggs. The dude told me this slice also has a light layer of mozzarella on it although they don't list that on the menu. This one almost lost out to the Biscuits & Gravy but the inclusion of sausage AND bacon was what finally made me choose this. If you're a regular reader you know I often speak of the choice between sausage and bacon so when offered both at the same time I had to try it. It turned out to be a better slice in concept than in execution. The sausage was dry and the maple syrup flavor dominated in a way that I didn't appreciate. As with the other slice I missed the tomato sauce (although this could very well be a Pavlovian response to having a slice of pizza in my hand).

The Results - 3.18 (Denver Omelette) and 2.79 (Meat Lovers) That Ain't No Sandwiches out of 5 That Ain't No Sandwiches. I am willing to concede that these ratings are affected by my personal biases and preconceptions. I can't help that. I just didn't enjoy either slice all that much. I may dabble in breakfast pizza again but it's far more likely I'll be eating a leftover slice of cold pepperoni and onion while making a sandwich to take to work.

Note - I believe each slice was $4. That is the cost of a specialty slice, but I don't remember what my total was that day.

*Speaking of blending foods, have you tried the Mac 'n Cheese Brats from Jim's Meat Market? They're new this year (I think) and are not listed on the web site but they seem to have them all the time. They are excellent. I haven't eaten a whole one on a bun, they function perfectly as a sliced up little snack while you grill other items.

Happy National Sandwich Month, everybody. Let's make it a memorable one.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #97 - McDonald's aka Again? Are You McFucking Kidding Me?

Sandwich: Egg McMuffin
Location: McDonald's (East Washington Ave.)
Date: July 22, 2017
Cost: $3.39

At this point you probably think I'm a corporate shill, bought and paid for by Big Sandwich to lobby for their interests on Capitol Hill or in some tiny, fetid backwater of the internet. I understand why you could think that. I reviewed McDonald's just over a month ago and if you're keeping track you know this is my FIFTH trip to a McDonald's, which is embarrassing.

Just read on and keep an open mind. McPlease. I'm just a McRegular guy reviewing McSandwiches of my own accord I would never let outside forces or McSponsorships stain my McIntegrity. I hope by now you would understand this. This has been a long journey and some of of you have been along for the entire ride so you know where I'm coming from.

What's important is to understand why I went back to McDonald's. The reasons are three-fold and they are intertwined and they are as follows.

#A) Convenience. That's right, McDonald's entire business model is built on convenience and that hooked me on this Saturday morning. I was out running errands and I wanted a fancy and delicious breakfast sandwich but didn't want to expend the time and effort to get such a thing. A quick and easy sandwich would sate my hunger and provide an opportunity for a review. See #B.

#B) A sense of obligation. If you think I take the readership here for granted, you are wrong. Any publisher will tell that it's important to provide regular content. You people are like sponges in the condiment aisle. You're sopping up the glorpy knowledge I'm throwing down. If I don't provide it, you'll go elsewhere. There are thousands of sandwich blogs you could be reading instead of this one.

#C) Completism. If you read review #95 you know I was shocked and disappointed that I had somehow neglected to review the all-time classic breakfast sandwich, the Egg McMuffin. This oversight had to be corrected before I hit sandwich #100. It was chasm in my research that called out to be filled.


Slightly defective muffin.

Not, you know, sexy looking.
The Sandwich - Egg McMuffin. At this point it's ubiquitous. It's the trunk of the breakfast sandwich family tree. All other breakfast sandwiches are indebted to the Egg McMuffin in some way.

After all this buildup I have to admit I was mostly disappointed with this sandwich. The overall texture was rubbery (not in a good way) and while it had less of a salty flavor than I thought it would, it didn't have much flavor at all. The muffin was toasty and had a light crunch and the cheese was melty, but those factors were not nearly enough to bring this sandwich into a positive light. 

There isn't much else to say about this sandwich. It was unimpressive and forgettable. 

The Result - 1.43 McFuck Its out of 5 McFuck Its. This sandwich moved from my Bucket List to my McFuck It List in the blink of an eye. It's hard out there for a sandwich, even a classic like the Egg McMuffin. The Egg McMuffin is surrounded by sandwich competition from within the golden arches, AND all the other fast food chains, AND all the coffee and donut shops, AND all these boutique sandwich joints sprouting up in every city. Somehow it has hung around all these years so it must have it's fans and supporters. Not this reporter.