Friday, June 26, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #28 - Plaka Taverna aka I'd Like A Second Opinion

Sandwich: Egg, Bacon & Cheese
Location: Plaka Taverna
Date: June 21 2015
Cost: $3.75

Before we get into this review it's important to note that my friend Max came with me to do a breakfast sandwich "ride along" and act as guest reviewer. The idea of having guest reviewers popped up a few weeks ago and although there have been no criteria established as to what credentials are needed to be a guest reviewer, I know that Max has enough clout to act as such. First, he asked if he could come along. Second, and this is probably what really earned him the right, he named his dog Bacon. We'll get to his review in a minute. 

Plaka Taverna serves breakfast in the style of it's previous incarnation, Cleveland's Diner. The rest of the time it's a Greek restaurant. Everybody knows this, but did you know they have a small patio area out back that you can eat on? They do, and it's adorable, although you run the risk of getting pooped on by a bird, which actually happened while I was there. That could happen any time you leave the house, but the fact that it happened when I was there to write a review is pretty hilarious. Also, I realize that my previous review featured a gross story about veins and this one is starting off with bird poop. These things happen when you sift and winnow for the truth. Maybe I'll get Rachel Ray to be a guest reviewer, she probably writes about nice things. It would probably be a lot more fun to have Anthony Bourdain do a ride along, although we would likely end up vodka-drunk in the Ukraine eating fish eyeballs stewed in Dodo Bird eggs. I don't know, that doesn't sound so bad. 
I like the variety here and the fact that the sandwiches can be ordered individually or with the potatoes.  

It's looking "All American".

Obligatory cross-section photo.
The Sandwich - Egg, Bacon & Cheese. I went with the cheddar cheese. I was tempted by the egg & gyro on pita but I decided to go with a classic sandwich for review purposes. My first reaction was that I would have liked the muffin to be more toasted on the outside. It was a little under toasted for my tastes. Other than that, the bacon was crisped well, the cheese was melty, the egg nicely cooked and folded although I prefer eggs a bit runny. I probably don't have to keep saying that. Really, this sandwich was right down the middle of the road - it was good, not fantastic. Nothing stood out about it but there was nothing wrong with it either (other than I would have liked the muffin to be more toasted). The potatoes were perfect. I generally find breakfast potatoes to be ho-hum and not exciting but these hit the bullseye with me. Nicely crisped on the outside, hot and steamy on the inside but not soggy.

The Result - 3.42 bird turds out of 5 bird turds. More than a few people have extolled the virtues of the Plaka Breakfast sandwich to me but I found it to be perfectly adequate. There could be a few things at work here, for one, my expectations may have been set too high coming in. I don't think they were but I'm not sure I can accurately judge my own preconceptions. There is also the chance that I'm getting jaded. I've eaten a hell of a lot of breakfast sandwiches in recent months and it's hard to keep them all straight and try to balance their ratings against each other. I occasionally go back and look at previous ratings to try to slot a new rating in the proper place. I don't always do that though. My final theory is that the Plaka sandwich is generally better than the one I received and my personal sandwich just didn't have that extra spark of sandwich love. 

Having said all that, let's find out what Max had to say about his sandwich.

As stated above, Max is 9 years old and has a dog named Bacon. Max wanted to do a ride along on a breakfast sandwich research mission and it came together very quickly, so quick that I was probably underprepared. I wasn't sure how it was going to work - if I was going to take notes on his thoughts, or maybe record his comments, or perhaps even have him write his own review. That last option seemed unlikely, asking a kid to write a review sounds like summer school. In the end I just made mental notes of his comments because that was pretty much my only option.

Coincidentally, Max ordered the exact same sandwich I did - Egg, Bacon & Cheddar Cheese. He didn't get the potatoes. At least we were talking about the same kind of sandwich so I knew where he was coming from.

The first thing I asked him about was the bacon, which he said was "chewy". The muffin was "crunchy at first" and the egg was "good". He thought the sandwich was kind of plain and could use some spice. When asked what might make it better he said "spice". He didn't specify beyond that, I don't know, maybe cinnamon and wasabi?

OK, he is a man of few words. Blogs didn't exist when I was 9 years old so there is no evidence of what I may have said about breakfast at that age, but I suspect it would have been similar.

His final rating was 2. Wow. That seems kind of harsh to me. There are hungry kids in Africa who would gladly give that sandwich a 4.88 and when asked to rate the glass of clean water that came with it they would give it 5 Cholera out of 5 Cholera. But, that's his rating. You can't chew a mile in another man's taste buds so I have to take him at his word. 

Perhaps the biggest take away from this is that we all have to experience our breakfast sandwiches on our own terms. One person's bacon is another person's forbidden swine. 

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #27 - Hardee's aka You Play The Hand You're Dealt

Sandwich: Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich w/Sausage
Location: Hardee's (East Washington Ave.)
Date: June 19, 2015
Cost: $3.79

I had the day off from work but I had an early appointment for blood work which meant I couldn't eat or drink anything prior. Naturally, this meant that I would be hungry and thinking about food as I drove to the hemoglobin factory. I was trying to think of someplace along the way that has breakfast sandwiches but I'd already visited the ones in the area that I knew were on the list. I was coming up empty.

Sometimes the universe sends you a sign. It may not be the sign you want, but it may be the sign you need.
Holy crap. I guess I need to stop.
So that's how it happened. Hardee's wasn't even on the list to review, somehow I had not considered them. I hadn't had Hardee's breakfast in well over a decade.

Since we're already talking about blood I'll relate this story. Years ago I had a job and we would sometimes work on the weekend. At some point in the morning somebody would make a run to Hardee's and bring back breakfast. One Saturday morning my coworker Tim Bob was eating his Hardee's Biscuits & Gravy and all of a sudden he made a horrible face and spit into his hand. It was a vein, about 3/4" long, maybe even 1" long, and about 1/8" diameter. I guess that's the risk you take when you eat dead animals but I was glad I had only ordered the cinnamon rolls.
I have photos of the rest of the breakfast menu board but I don't think you really need to see them.

It looks nicely toasted but that cheese isn't melted enough.

I don't know, it looks OK.
The Sandwich - Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich w/Sausage. The other option is bacon. They're really pushing this new item, as soon as I pulled up to the order board they asked if I wanted to try the new Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich. It's almost like they saw me taking a photo of the sign out by the road. The first taste when taking a bite was the salty sausage. That gave way to a paste-like texture, not really in a good way. I didn't know until I looked up their menu online that this sandwich has Swiss cheese on it. I thought it was paste. I felt like the weird kid in 4th grade art class who will eat paste just to get a reaction. I did a lot of dumb stuff in the 4th grade but I didn't eat paste. The bread looked pretty good but was kind of doughy and chewy. I guess the egg was fine and the American cheese was as expected. This sandwich just wasn't working for me. I felt bad eating it. I had just had blood drawn to check cholesterol and whatever else they check, and now I was eating this. 255 mg of cholesterol, 1820 mg of sodium, 17 g saturated fat and probably a vein or two. I don't think my Doctor reads this blog but he's going to see the test results so I can't deny it.

The Result - 2.19 veins out of 5 veins. It's probably not the worst breakfast sandwich I've ever had but it wasn't good. The overall mouth feel of this sandwich is its biggest downfall. Not much else to say about this but I'm going for a bike ride now to try and cleanse my aura and ventricles.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #26 - Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery aka The Halfway Point.

Sandwich: Award-Winning Egg Sandwich
Location: Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery
Date: June 14, 2015
Cost: $8.99

Sandwich #26 marks the halfway point of this endeavor which means this blog is either half full or half empty, depending on your point of view.

I don't think I had ever eaten at Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery other than an odd cupcake or two. Like a lot of people, I think the term "cupcakery" is dumb. It makes me feel like I'll be getting a pedicure while I eat a cupcake and my tiny dog gets a Brazilian wax. I don't think any of that happens there, other than the cupcakes, and I've heard plenty of great things about their food.

As regular readers know, this research is about the truth and leaving expectations behind, and that includes uncomfortable feelings about made up words. (Neither Merriam-Webster nor Oxford contain entries for "cupcakery"). I did find that the first known use of the term "cupcake" in print was in Eliza Leslie's cookbook, Seventy-five receipts for pastry, cakes, and sweetmeats, published in 1828. It's well worth taking a few minutes to peruse the pages in that link, especially if you've been looking for a recipe for Oyster Pie or Calves-Feet Jelly. (Spoiler alert - it requires four calves feet and a pint of white wine. I think I would require more than a pint of wine to make it, but that's me.) You may want to check the recipe for Blancmange also, "Get four calves feet; if possible some that have been singed, and not skinned".
Words, words, words (sung to the tune of Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crüe)

Slightly deceiving.
The Sandwich - Award-Winning Egg Sandwich. The menu doesn't say what award the sandwich won and I looked around the room and didn't see any trophies or plaques. I think they may have made that part up and I kind of felt like I'd been lied to. The egg comes fried and when I first saw my sandwich and there was no runny egg-flow I was a tiny bit disappointed, BUT, I peeked under the hood and saw a bulbous yolk in full ooze stand-by mode. OK. That's exactly what happened once I commenced to eating it. The bacon was crisp, the cilantro was very subtle, and the purple onion kind of lingers in the background but you know it's there. The rosemary bread is fantastic with this sandwich, and was perfectly toasty. There was ample cream cheese and to be honest, for my tastes, there was too much of it. I'm not sold on the cream cheese on this sandwich, I would have preferred cheddar or something else. It's a personal preference and I don't want to get hung up on it because I think what they've done here is create a breakfast sandwich that is both inventive and hues close to a more classic breakfast sandwich. It's a damn fine sandwich.

The Result - 4.01 fakeworderies out of 5 fakeworderies. It's the cream cheese that doesn't work for me. I'm not against cream cheese, but in this case, I suppose I am. Your feelings on cream cheese should direct your heart in this matter because this is still an amazing sandwich. Hell, they might substitute another cheese for you if you're polite about it. 

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #25 - Taco Bell aka Don't Knock It Till You Try It

Sandwich: A.M. Crunchwrap with Sausage
Location: Taco Bell (East Washington Ave.)
Date: June 9, 2015
Cost: $2.69

Taco Bell is somewhat new to the breakfast game (oh sorry, it's a WAR) having only started selling breakfast tacos and such since 2014. I had probably seen their ads for burritos and breakfast tacos dozens of times before it dawned on me that I would have to add them to my list. There is a Taco Bell conveniently located between my house and work so I knew I could make a weekday stop for research. Weekday stops are crucial to meeting my goal of 52 sandwiches - I can't make it out for breakfast every weekend and I also can't go out both days of the weekend to try to catch up if I miss a week. Factor in a Tuesday morning Crunchwrap and we have a sustainable business model.

I was dreading the day I would make the morning run for the border. It's Taco Bell, it might taste OK at 1 AM but it couldn't possibly be a good thing to consume in the morning. Just the other day I had a conversation with friends about Taco Bell and it was determined that the only time it tastes good is when you have low expectations, which should be every visit.

I don't know if they offer all the breakfast items at all locations, but the drive-thru menu showed only three items, none of which are breakfast tacos. I'm sure if I had gone inside there would have been a wider array presented. No matter, the breakfast tacos kind of look like the pork buns at Umami but I feel like an asshole for even saying that. There just can't be a comparison. I did not get the breakfast taco.

The menu only showed two Crunchwraps, a Breakfast Burrito and Donut Thingys. 

That coffee lid sure is happy.

It's a Breakfast Puck!

The Sandwich - A.M Crunchwrap with Sausage. The other options are bacon and country sausage. I learned that the country sausage sandwich has gravy on it and the regular sausage has creamy jalapeno sauce, which is what I chose. The dude at the drive-thru window was in a damn good mood and the sandwich took a few minutes, a lot longer than a Fiery Gorrito or whatever you order at 1:00 AM. I took the delay as a good sign, it meant they were actually making the sandwich, not just pulling it off the rack.

Unwrapping it at work I wasn't impressed with it's puck-like appearance but, expectations were low, and it looked like it was grilled well. Slicing it revealed consistent layers but lacking the classic cheesy-eggy ooze.

I may as well just say it, this is a decent sandwich, especially for the price. I expected the sausage to be a salty and grisly mess but it was OK. The thin layer of potato at the top was really nice, the egg was a bit fluffy. The cheese could have been more melty, that would have helped. There was just a bit of the creamy jalapeno sauce and it was good. I could have taken more of it to be honest. Anybody thats ever had a full bite of sour cream from some haphazardly assembled Burrito Supreme knows what a dangerous statement that is, but I stand by it.

The Result - 3.75 low expectations out of 5 low expectations. There is very little chance I'll go back to get one of these again but it's a good deal and a surprisingly tasty sandwich. If we're talking about Breakfast Wars the McMuffin has just been lured into the Russian Winter.

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