Saturday, December 31, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #80 - Kingston Cafe aka Egg Enlightenment

Sandwich: Beto's
Location: Kingston Cafe
Date: December 23, 2016
Cost: $8.95

I was traveling for the holidays and this place popped up as near my hotel. I knew some research was in order plus I wanted a nice, strong cup of coffee. The hotel continental breakfast coffee wasn't cutting it.

Kingston Cafe was the most enticing option that came up in a search for "breakfast sandwiches San Mateo" but let it be known that the people of San Mateo appear to have some solid options when it comes to sandwiches, breakfast or not. The Spot on 25th, Ike's Place and Mr Pickle's all look like places that can bring the flavor. Sadly, I did not have time to visit any of them although I did squeeze in a "double double, animal style" at In-N-Out Burger.

Options.

It's rare that a breakfast sandwich comes on "normal" bread.

Look at that egg! I won't shut up about it. I won't!
The Sandwich - Beto's. Shortly after ordering they informed me that they were out of fresh basil but they could substitute pesto in it's place. That actually sounded better and is probably the way they should make this sandwich every time. It adds flavor and moisture and was instrumental in kicking this sandwich up into the "something special" ranks. Let's get a couple of things out of the way here so we can address some real issues. The bacon was fine and the tomato better than expected in December. The sandwich comes with pepper jack cheese and spicy mayo but still didn't have much heat to it. That isn't really a knock but it was surprising that it didn't have some zip to it. There wasn't a lot of cheese on this but you can't expect Wisconsin level cheesery in California, even though they try to claim their superiority as a dairy state. It's cute if not entirely foolish. It doesn't matter because all I really want to talk about is that egg! I don't know how or why, but I've never been served eggs on a sandwich like that. They were glorious. It was like a puffy egg cloud - fluffy and moist and beautiful. Normally I'm always yapping about a runny yolk but I have to admit that I was ignorant to the fact that eggs could be this way. They should be this way. The sourdough toast was just enough to keep everything together.

The Result - 4.70 Eye Opening Egg Enlightenments out of 5 Eye Opening Egg Enlightenments. This was a fantastic sandwich. The basil and the egg were really the best parts but the whole thing came together wonderfully. The Sumatran pour over coffee was also amazing. 

Breakfast Sandwich #79 - A Two Cheezer Jobber

I was out of bacon but I had a perfectly ripe avocado and some Newly Wed English Muffins so I doubled down on the cheese and got to work.

Breakfast Sandwich #79 - butterkase, brick, chicken egg, avocado, Cholula hot sauce, English Muffin. 

Beauty

That's a lot of tasty and gooey cheese.
The Result - It's all about the muffin. Previous homemade sandwiches were on Bays English Muffins but this sandwich was on Newly Wed brand. The Newly Weds claim to be 25% bigger than some English Muffins. They do look bigger but I didn't have any Bays left for measurement comparison. The biggest difference is that the Newly Weds are a little spongier, with less craters and crevices for gooey bits to get caught in. Compare photos of this sandwich to #77 and #78 and you'll be able to see the difference. The Bays appear less uniform on the flat surfaces, I'm not sure what that says about their baking process or whatever, but they have a different look to them. I also think the Bays crisp up more when toasting because they are less dense. This is some actual scientific shit right here! If we can get a Muffinologist in here to explain this that would be fantastic. The density of your muffin is a personal preference, both brands are tasty and sufficient for a breakfast sandwich.

Anyway, with loads of creamy cheese, a runny egg, perfectly ripe avocado, delicious hot sauce, a bit of fresh ground pepper - of course this was an amazing sandwich. 



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Breakfast Sandwiches #77 and #78 - I Still Have That Toaster Oven

This is going to amount to nothing more than notes for myself about the last two sandwiches I made which is to say nobody is going to want to read it. However, as noted previously, these sandwiches must be documented. One day when I sit down to write my dissertation so I can get my PhD in the Sandwich Arts I will need these notes but in the meantime I don't expect you to care or to even read this. Hopefully some institution of higher learning will grant me an Honorary Sandwich Doctorate so I don't have to go through all that.

Anyway, you could be watching cat videos and I won't be offended if you leave to do just that. Just in case you want to hang around for a minute here is a guy feeding bacon to his cat like he's in Lady and the Tramp.

Breakfast Sandwich #77 - bacon, pepper jack, avocado, egg, mayo, Cholula hot sauce, English Muffin.
Good Golly Miss Molly!

Very nice. 
#77 Result - A bit of experimentation gone wrong but disaster averted. I thought it might be smart to preheat the toaster oven. It was not. I ended up burning the top half of the muffin which I'm chalking up to not having control of the temperature. While I was pulling the slightly burnt muffin from the toaster and slathering a bit of mayo on it to counteract the dryness I also overcooked the egg a bit. At that point of my mild panic attack somebody should have been playing Yakety Sax as the soundtrack. The avocado was perfectly ripe so I had that going for me although I had to contend with the pieces trying to slide out the sides every time I took a bite. That's how it goes with avocado. I was worried that the pepper jack and Cholula might gang up to make it too spicy but that was not an issue. The pepper jack cheese was somewhat mild and I've never found Cholula to be particularly hot, just flavorful, and it pairs so well with avocado. Overall it was a mighty fine sandwich and lessons were learned, but it could have been better.
---
Breakfast Sandwich #78 - bacon, brick cheese, avocado, egg, Cholula, English Muffin.
Pretty as a picture.

A little sloppy, a lot tasty. 
#78 Result - Shit Damn! We've really got something going here. This one turned out so damn fine it was like Salma Hayek on a muffin. You can see the chicken egg turned out exactly how I wanted it. The avocado was (still) perfectly ripe (it was the other half of the same avocado used in #77). Minor quibbles - the cheese could have been a bit meltier and the muffin could have been toasted a bit more. The bacon was sizzling and smoking so I pulled them from the oven before the cheese and muffin reached optimal levels. So it goes. There were no regrets. The brick cheese is mild but when adding salty bacon and hot sauce it works perfectly. This was a Sunday morning sandwich done right and a great reward for 90 minutes of snow shoveling.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dear Diary, I Bought A Toaster Oven aka Breakfast Sandwiches #74, #75, #76

Dear Diary,

With 2016 coming to a close I have found myself increasingly uncertain about the future of the country and the psyche of Americans in general. Like many Americans I sought to quell my anxiety by participating in the fetishized consumerism of Black Friday. If there is one thing that can calm a tizzied mind it's a small kitchen appliance and lots and lots of cheese and bacon. That's more than one thing but you get my point. Diary, this may be nothing more than the ramblings of a man gone mad for sandwiches but if you need me I'll be in the lab making breakfast sandwiches. Beyond the settling of a harried consciousness I think that the sandwich might be the key to uniting a divided country. There is research to do. Nothing less than the future of our country is at stake.
---
What happened is that I needed a new toaster and while shopping I realized that a toaster oven costs only slightly more than a regular toaster yet offers so much more. PROS: increased sandwichibility. CONS: reduced counter space. Sandwiches win, naturally.

There are a ridiculous amount of toaster ovens available. Black & Decker, Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, Breville, and Hamilton Beach are all in the toaster oven game. Shit. I'd never heard of Breville but their toaster ovens look really nice and cost more than twice that of a Cuisinart. When did Black & Decker start making kitchen appliances? Does Cuisinart make chainsaws? After much deliberation I ended up with the Cuisinart TOB-60N1 which looks adequate for my needs.

For a variety of reasons, not that one needs a reason, I already had a plethora of cheese on hand. Whole milk Swiss, butterkase, brick, extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack, some kind of Gouda. That's just what pops into my head right now and that seem like good options for a breakfast sandwich.

I also already had bacon. One package of English Muffins later I was ready to get to work.

Breakfast Sandwich #74 - bacon, butterkase, red onion, egg.
#74 - My first sandwich in the Cuisinart.

#74 - Proper chicken egg
#74 Result - A strong first take. Butterkase is a good cheese for a breakfast sandwich, it melts nicely and is creamy. I should have used more bacon, this was only two pieces. Scant usage of red onion was the key here. Pound for pound nothing adds a little zip to a sandwich like red onion but you have to use it sparingly. This sandwich emboldened me and gave me hope.
---
Breakfast Sandwich #75 - bacon, whole milk Swiss, mild giardiniera, egg.
#75 - That's the last of my whole milk aged Swiss cheese. I'm feeling melancholy. 

#75 - How pretty is that? Yes, that is a kitty cat coffee creamer pourer in the background. 

#75 - Nice, but I should have drained the giardiniera a little more. The kitty is waving for your attention. That squash don't give a shit about you though.  
#75 Result - Strong, but needs work. It was tough to say goodbye to the last of my whole milk aged Swiss cheese. It was purchased in the Cheese Tent at Cheese Days and I don't know when I'll be able to get more, but damn, it was some good-ass cheese.  I used three strips of bacon this time and mild giardiniera. Cooked the egg just a little too long but that turned out to be for the better. I buttered the muffin and didn't drain the giardiniera enough so this got a little sloppy. A runny yolk would have made this a full on mess. This was a very tasty sandwich but could have been refined. 
---
#76 - bacon, extra sharp cheddar, Sriracha mayo, egg. 
#76 - Take a little turn on the catwalk sandwich, you're looking fine!

#76 - Oh fuck. That's a hot mess. Also, I need some new plates that are less visually distracting. 
#76 Result - the yin and yang of sandwich making? In terms of flavor this sandwich was a real dynamo. I thought that the Sriracha mayo and extra sharp cheddar would blend nicely, and they did. Those flavors pair wonderfully with the salty bacon. Yeah! I had some missteps in production though. I tried putting the tray in the bottom of the toaster oven to help with dripping cheese clean up and that affected the toasting of the muffins. I overcooked the egg so there was no runny yolk. Then I tried to cut the sandwich with a butter knife, but the muffin was too squishy from lack of toasting and you can see how that turned out. Well, shit. My only excuse is that I was trying to get ready for work and was also making my lunchtime sandwich at the same time. Did I mention how tasty this was? It was amazing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #73 - Roast Public House aka Token Offerings and Random Ramblings

Sandwich: Breakfast All Day
Location: Roast Public House
Date: December 3, 2016
Cost: $7.00, comes with kettle chips.

Roast is a place that wasn't on my radar. I don't get down to State Street as often as perhaps I should and when I do it's with a specific destination in mind so I zero in on that. I used to work downtown and ate out for lunch every day, so I knew when new restaurants were opening and would try them out. I ate all the things, one might say. Some of my favorites are still there and I wish I could visit them more often - Mediterranean Cafe, Himal Chuli, The Plaza, Paul's Pelmeni*. Damn fine spots for lunch. After lunch there was often a quick stop at B-Side Records**. Browsing for new music is crucial to the digestive process.

*Paul's was on State Street and then went away for some reason and then reopened in a coffee shop in Fitchburg and then moved to their current location just off State Street. When they reopened they didn't bring back the record player and stack of worn but solid albums they would let you select from. I know I played Neil Young's, "After The Gold Rush" and a Willie Nelson selection, probably some sort of Greatest Hits. They should bring back the record player.

**Check back for B-Side's annual Best Of The Year selections where current and former employees of the store list their favorite albums and concerts of the past year. It's always a "must read" and is delayed slightly this year. Check their web site for updates or stop in the store for a printed version. You probably need some new music in your life anyway.

Anyway, all of this is a long-winded way to say I only knew about Roast due to research put in to compile the list of places I want to review. Somehow I came across their info and added it to the list. Saturday I was headed to the Chazen to see the Manabu Ikeda piece*** and factored in a stop at Roast. Finally.

***This exhibit is only up through December 11 and is worth your time to plan a trip to see it. Do it this week! Also, check out the amazing Facades exhibit as long as you are there.

Most people probably didn't read all that shit I wrote above and who can blame them? Here are pictures, people like to read pictures.
I really like that running pig. It's like "here is what your sandwich looked like shortly before we killed it."

There it is, with a Mixed Greens photobomb. Fuck you, Mixed Greens, this isn't a salad blog. 

I should have focused on that half in back.
The Sandwich - Breakfast All Day. You can get avocado for the vegetarian version, otherwise your choice is bacon, ham or sausage. Roast seems to be all about their meats, so I asked if the sausage is made in house. It is not. I went with the bacon but would have gone with sausage if it they made it on site. You can see some chicken egg yolky-ooziness in the photo, that was nice. American cheese is a solid choice for a breakfast sandwich due to the melt factor and saltiness. The bacon was good, could have been a touch crispier but was OK, if a little thin. I'm more of a thick cut bacon kind of a guy. The bun is a Madison Sourdough Soft Bun, it says it right on the menu. This isn't a particularly hearty or messy sandwich and the bun was able to contain everything, but it still felt a bit too squishy. I like my breads like I like my women - toasted and with a little more heft. Ahem. Jeez, I'm going to get some shit for that line. Don't complain to me, complain to my editor and sponsors, neither of which exist. The mixed greens on the side were a good choice and the cilantro-lime vinaigrette that the waiter recommended was perfect. The sandwich normally comes with kettle chips but I swapped in the greens for $1.50.

The Result - 3.7 State Street Lunchtime Flashbacks out of 5 State Street Lunchtime Flashbacks. This is a perfectly OK sandwich but is nothing special. I feel like it's on the menu as a token breakfast offering. Honestly, if it wasn't for the sake of research I would have ordered something else. The menu has some fine looking sandwiches, such as, Pastor Pork Sandwich - Guajillo chile roasted pork, avocado, queso Oaxaca, fresh cilantro on a Stella spicy cheese bun. I'm a fool for tacos al pastor so I really need to try this sandwich. Next time. My research here is done.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #72 - A Homemade Jobber aka I Plead The Fifth

Sandwich: Bacon, Kale, Egg & Swiss
Location: Top Secret Laboratory
Date: November 20, 2016
Cost: It would be rude to ask

I haven't reviewed a homemade sandwich since February 2015 and that was one of only a handful of homemade reviews, all of which took place in January and February of that year.

Sandwiches #2, #3, #4 and #10 were all the result of work in the lab.

It's already been determined that nobody gives a rat's ass about my homemade sandwiches but I do count them towards the overall tally (which was 52 but is now 100, for some reason) so they need to be recorded. The folks in the Consumables Division at the Smithsonian were very clear about this.

Lack of public interest aside, these homemade sandwich reviews are valuable for two reasons. #A, you can see the framework with which I judge other sandwiches. #B, you can mock my culinary skills, which if inspected closely might lead you to believe that I was taught to cook by a chef with two left hands.

The reason that this sandwich came to be was because I went shopping for Thanksgiving and while putting the chicken eggs away I realized I had everything needed for an experiment. Serendipitous! It occurred to me that I hadn't been in the lab for some time and so I set to work on my fifth sandwich.
You have to admit that this looks pretty good.


We have a little yolk action here.
The Sandwich - Brownberry 12 Grain Bread, StoneRidge Pit Smoked Bacon, Deppeler's Aged Whole Milk Swiss (the link shows a partially skimmed milk version), Kale, Egg. I baked the bacon in the oven and used some of the grease to cook the kale. I think I used too much, the kale was a little greasy. The egg was just a tiny bit overcooked but had some runny yolk. The cheese wasn't as melty as I would have liked it but this Swiss is so tasty it almost didn't matter. It was slightly gooey so not a complete failure. The bread was toasted perfectly (with lots of butter) and the bacon was crisp. The StoneRidge bacon was good for this sandwich, slightly smokey, not too slaty, and thick cut so it brings some heft. This was a mostly impressive sandwich and made me wonder why I've only made 5 sandwiches over the course of 72.

The Result - 4.3 Homemade Sandwiches out of 5 Homemade Sandwiches. The devil is in the details. The flavor was there on this one but I was just a little off on the cheese, egg and kale. It was still a fantastic sandwich and I might have rated it higher if it had been served to me in a local establishment. That's assuming it didn't come with a $14 price tag and a side of foraged quinoa with fluffed artichoke foam and seaweed vapor. As it was it came with a side of messy kitchen and a touch of pride.

WARNING - If I can get my hands on a turkey egg there may be some work done in the lab that involves Thanksgiving leftovers made into a post-Thanks breakfast sandwich. I'm not sure I'll be able to find one, and I don't intend to work very hard at it, but it strikes me as a lab worthy endeavor. I could use chicken egg but it wouldn't be as much fun. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #71 - Panera Bread aka I Think I'm Done With Chain Restaurants

Sandwich: Sausage, Egg & Cheese
Location: Panera Bread
Date: November 19, 2016
Cost: $4.29

I had never considered what the word "panera" meant until now, but it turns out it's a Spanish word for "bread basket", and it's a lot more fun to say it with a Spanish accent.

Pronunciation aside, I've been meaning to get to Panera for well over a year. I wasn't specifically avoiding it but didn't have anything motivating me to go there.

Saturday morning I was running errands with a hungry belly and when I saw a Panera I knew the time had come. I actually had already passed it when I put the thought together and had to turn around and go back. That turned out to be more effort than it was worth.

Kind of sad looking.

Sadder yet.

The saddest.
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg & Cheese. They have a handful of different sandwiches they offer but they don't offer different types of cheeses and breads when you're ordering. Perhaps they will change it up if you ask. I wanted something other than bacon and this one sounded like a decent choice. As soon as I took a good look at it I had a problem - all the contents were shifted to one side. It screamed of a hastily prepared sandwich with which love was but an afterthought, if not completely absent altogether. I didn't like how it made me feel, emotionally. Now, I did order this sandwich "to go", so it's possible there was some jostling after I left, but I don't think so. Everything was squished together rather tightly and it doesn't seem possible that a short car ride shifted the innards of this sandwich that much. As is the case with all mass produced chain restaurant breakfast sandwiches, the chicken egg was not runny. This could have used more cheese despite the description of a "thick slice of Vermont cheddar". The sausage patty was adequate, not overly salty or grisly, and the bread was OK. It had a nice crunch to it.

The Result - 3.5 Generic Chain Sandwiches out of 5 Generic Chain Sandwiches. The biggest problem with this sandwich was that it came across as just some stuff they threw together and put in a bag. You remember when you were a kid and it was your birthday and that one relative gave you a toy that you could just tell they picked up at the drug store on the way to your party? That was this sandwich. I got about halfway through the first part of the sandwich and there was nothing left except the bread. The rest wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly good either, and overall it just had a meager feel to it. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #70 - Plaka Taverna aka Everything Is Just Fine

Sandwich: Egg, Bacon & Cheese
Location: Plaka Taverna
Date: November 12, 2016
Cost: $3.75

I reviewed a sandwich from Plaka Taverna last summer at the height of my dedication/obsession with this project. I've mentioned previously that since that stretch I think my ratings have gone up a little. Maybe the ratings at that time were more accurate and maybe I'm not even correct in that assessment as I haven't tried to break it down into a chart or graph that will help me to understand it. I can't be sure but I do know that nobody is concerned with this so I'll just drop it.

Last Saturday I was headed through the downtown area and wanted a quick breakfast. It seemed like a good time to try Plaka again.
I took a single photo. I felt like I really captured the essence of this sandwich in this photo and there was no reason to take another.

The Sandwich - Egg, Bacon & Cheese. I was tempted to try the sausage or the Egg & Gyro on a Pita, but I was in the mood for bacon. The other option is choice of cheese and I went with cheddar, rather than American or Swiss. The bacon was cooked to a nice crisp. The eggs were folded and not runny and the sandwich comes on an English Muffin, which I have noted before is an ideal breakfast sandwich delivery system. This one could have used more toasting on the outside, it was a little too squishy.

The Results - 3.99 Perfectly Fine Sandwiches out of 5 Perfectly Fine Sandwiches. I guess that's the main takeaway here - it was all just fine. Other than the bacon all the components could have been just a little bit better. Eggs + runnier, Cheese + meltier, English Muffin + toastier = Sandwich tastier. The American Fries were excellent and had a nice crunchy outer layer to them, like a sweet hippie kid.

Now that I've gotten to this point I went back and looked at my first review of Plaka, just to compare. I didn't mean to, but I ordered the same sandwich and said almost the exact same things about it, especially regarding the bacon and the muffin. BUT, and it's a big but, I rated that sandwich 3.42 and this one 3.99, which just goes to show that Plaka is more consistent than I am.

Follow on Twitter @BunBreakfast (also on Instagram with the same name)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #69 - Player's Sports Bar & Grill aka Comin' Around Full Circle

Sandwich: Buzzy with Bacon
Location: Players Sports Bar & Grill
Date: October 29, 2016
Cost: $7.50

If you've been following along here you know that The Buzzy Sandwich at Player's is essentially what inspired this endeavor. The Buzzy was the first step on this journey but it never received a proper review as I hadn't yet found any form or structure for this mess. I thought it would only be a matter of a few months before I made it back there to properly document The Buzzy. Well, 20 months later I had business to attend to in the neighborhood and I finally pulled up a bar stool at Player's to reacquaint myself with an old pal.

I think I have a soft spot for the Buzzy due to it's name - I used to have a cat and one of her nicknames was "Buzzy" because she liked to sit on the back of the couch with her head kind of jutted forward and drooping down, much like a buzzard. Now I wish I had asked why this sandwich is called Buzzy.

Although this is the breakfast menu I believe The Buzzy is available whenever the grill is open. 

OK, this is a terrible photo. The sandwich was already nicely sliced when it arrived and I tried to arrange it so you could see the ooey-gooey innards which resulted in me plopping half of the sandwich onto the hash browns which I had already put ketchup on. So, yes, this photo is a hot mess but just look at that sandwich!
The Sandwich - Buzzy Sandwich w/Bacon. I've never ordered it with ham or sausage. I could see ordering the sausage someday. The only option offered is the meat. The egg was not runny, but the yolk was only semi-solid. There was plenty of melty cheese and the bacon was cooked crisp but not burnt. The toast was the perfect vehicle for this sandwich, it kept everything in check but was still soft with a light crunch. Overall this sandwich pushes the salt limit for me, but in a good way. It's too-salty-enough, or something like that. 

The Result - 4.4 OHMYGODITSSOGOODTOSEEYOUAGAINS out of 5 OHMYGODITSSOGOODTOSEEYOUAGAINS. Damn fine sandwich. I was a little nervous going back here - what if the sandwich didn't cut the mustard? What would I do? Would my shattered dreams force me to close this thing down and leave you, the vaguely interested reader, to fend for yourself in a crazy world of even crazier sandwiches? I was having sandwich nostalgia and I didn't want it torn apart. Luckily, we do not have to think about these things because The Buzzy delivered. It was like a comfy hug from inside my belly, but not like in the movie Alien. 

Follow on Twitter @BunBreakfast (also on Instagram with the same name)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #68 - Chick-fil-A aka Double Down On The Chicken pt. II

Sandwich: Chicken, Egg & Cheese Bagel
Location: Chick-fil-A
Date: October 26, 2016
Cost: $3.65

Despite years of being subjected to the commercials where the cows tell you to eat more chicken chikin, I'd never been to a Chik-fil-A. I think they are new to the Madison area and the East Washington location just opened within the last month. I didn't even know that they offered breakfast items until I heard about the new location and did a little research. Actually, I didn't know anything about Chick-fil-A other than they sponsor the Peach Bowl and a couple of years ago there was something about them not liking gay stuff.

Putting aside their questionable stance on individual rights, I knew I had to do some breakfast sandwich research.
It was a dark and stormy morning as I pulled up to the Chick-fil-A drive thru...started the shittiest novel (or blog) ever. 

We have some oozy cheese there. Things don't look too bad.

Typical fast food egg.
The Sandwich - Chicken, Egg & Cheese Bagel. They offer bacon and sausage sandwiches, and burritos, but I didn't go to Chick-fil-A for that type of fare and I don't know why anybody would. I was tempted by those adorable Chick-n-Minis but those aren't really a breakfast sandwich. The drive thru description didn't list the bagel as a "Sunflower Multigrain Bagel", but that's what the web site calls it. Also, the drive thru menu didn't tell me that I could have gotten a spicy chicken breast, which I'm just now discovering and which I would have taken advantage of. That appears to be the only option offered (but you have to know about it in advance, I guess).

The chicken egg is fine but they're always overcooked at fast food places. The cheese was melty although I could have taken more of it. The chicken, I have to admit, was pretty dang good. I had low expectations thinking it would be greasy and salty and it was neither of those things. I guess you don't open over 1,950 restaurants by serving crappy chicken

The only problem, and it's a substantial problem, is the bagel. It's everything you think a crappy multigrain bagel would be. Chewy and doughy, not in a good way, and mostly flavorless in a "it tastes kinda healthy so I guess it's OK" kind of a way. I have no doubt that their biscuits or an English muffin would have been better.

The Result - 3.5 double doses of chicken out of 5 double doses of chicken. In the early days of this blog I did some work in the lab and made my own chicken sandwich with a chicken egg on it. I know DLUX also offers a chicken breakfast sandwich, and I'd like to try that. I like the concept of the chicken based breakfast sandwich but the Chick-fil-A version isn't the one for me. It would have better if it hadn't been on the recycled-corrugated-cardboard-flavored bagel, but I still don't think that would have made it an excellent sandwich. In the end it was just ok. I did enjoy the bouncy acidic flavor of their coffee.










Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #67 - Ted's Market & Delicatessen aka I'm a Tedhead

Sandwich: Ted's McMuffin
Location: Ted's Market & Delicatessen
Date: October 14, 2016
Cost: $5

Things have gotten to the point where if I'm going to travel to another city I do a search for "Best breakfast sandwiches in Timbuktu". In this case I was traveling to San Francisco, not Timbuktu, so I knew there would be plenty of options.

Too many options, it turns out. The "best of" search turned up this and this and this and this. There were more, of course, but I already had more data than I could crunch. With those lists in hand I put on my green eyeshade and starting cross referencing selections and noting locations of desired sandwiches. I have to admit I even factored in some of the article comments. Wading into the comments section is always treacherous but in food related writings you can often find helpful tips such as recipe modifications and it's easy to tell if somebody is just a blowhard or a crank whose opinion you can ignore.

Having said all that, I made a list of San Francisco breakfast sandwiches that I wanted to try. I knew at best I would only get to try three, and that was only if I went out each morning I had available. That was unlikely to happen. Also, some are offered only during weekend brunch which narrowed it to one morning for those locations. I think you can see my dilemma. I think you can feel my dilemma. I had more sandwiches than time. This is always the case, but when traveling the feeling is magnified.

Because I put the effort in, because I sifted and winnowed for sandwich truth, I'm going to put my listings here in the hopes that it helps some intrepid traveling stomach. This list was heavily weighted towards where I was staying, which was "SoMa".

Devil's Teeth Baking Company. This was not really close to me at all which is the reason I never made it there. They rated high on at least two lists, and in comments. I shed a tear of regret over not making it to Devil's Teeth.

Arlequin Cafe. I don't remember what the appeal was. It was close by but I never made it.

Merigan Sub Shop. Well, shit. By the time I made it out there the web site said the store was closed for good. Too bad, the Breakfast section of the menu looked awesome. I shed another tear of regret over this one.

Réveille Coffee Co. I wanted their Toad In A Hole. Read about it here. They had me at "golden cyclops of a yolk-eye", but I didn't make it there either. More tears of regret.

Bacon Bacon. A couple people said this place is overrated and I was feeling that might be the case. Is it San Francisco's "Mickie's Dairy Bar", a place that tons of people love but that doesn't really seem to warrant the love? I don't know, I never made it.

The Grove. Breakfast served all day. I probably could have squeezed one in. No tears, no excuses.

Sulameria. Fried chicken & egg sandwich with prosciutto and chili hollandaise on a sesame seed bun. Damn. I think I really fucked up on skipping this one. No tear. Anger.

Cowgirl Creamery. I actually made it to the Ferry Building location but I didn't see a breakfast sandwich on the menu. I asked the lady but she said they had other sandwiches that day. There was confusion. I ended up with a Mt. Tam and Ham sandwich which was delicious but not a breakfast sandwich even though I ate it for breakfast. Then I ate oysters and a bloody mary to try to forget about the confusion. Then I ate Deem Sum which is not even close to being a breakfast sandwich but is super tasty. I give it all a 4.87 miscellaneous food items out of 5 miscellaneous food items. That Mt. Tam cheese is really something special.

That leaves me with Ted's Delicatessen. I actually went to Ted's and ordered a breakfast sandwich. It was just just down the block, probably 350 feet away. Ted's doesn't really look like what you picture when you think "deli", it's kind of a cross between a deli and a convenience store. Ted makes his own version of the McMuffin and there is a lot to like about that. I reviewed the original McMuffin over a year ago but was intrigued to see how Ted's compared.
Check out that little egg drawing that looks like a flying saucer. You can see they have a couple of options for breakfast sandwiches.

Ted's McMuffin. Ted doesn't skimp on the cheese.

Gooey. The English muffin top got a little messed up when I cut the sandwich.
The Sandwich - Ted's McMuffin. I'd like to know what inspired Ted to offer his own version of the McMuffin and if the McDonald's Legal Department has ever sent him a cease & desist letter. I guess not, or he probably would have changed the name of the sandwich. The only choice on the sandwich is what type of cheese - cheddar, swiss, pepper jack. I went with cheddar. The cheese was melty and plentiful, there was a layer on the top and bottom, and in the photos you can see how the egg was folded around the sausage. I appreciate that level of attention to detail. The English muffin was toasted and kept everything together and the sausage was salty and exactly what I had hoped for.

The Result - 4.35 Tedheads out of 5 Tedheads. I'm on board with Ted's McMuffin and Ted in general. I like Ted's style - ripping off McDonald's. This was a really great but simple breakfast sandwich. The price is right at $5, especially by San Francisco standards and it's far tastier than a regular McMuffin and worth the extra $1.71. It's ample enough to power you through the morning, in this case it got me through the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

I think this has something to do with sandwiches.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #66 - McDonald's aka A Return To The Classics

Sandwich: Sausage Egg Biscuit
Location: McDonald's
Date: September 16, 2016
Cost: $3.18

I reviewed the Egg McMuffin awhile ago and noted at the time that if asked to guess I would have said it comes with sausage on it. It turns out that the classic McMuffin has Canadian bacon on it, not sausage.

Lately I've been wanting for a sausage based breakfast sandwich and although this was probably not the best choice to sate that craving, it was convenient. That's how they get you, right?

"Add Round Egg" sounds funny and more than doubles the cost of the sandwich for reasons I don't understand. Eggs are cheap.

Aesthetically pleasing bag design.

Looks OK, right?

The eye is immediately drawn to that base layer of melted cheese.

The Sandwich - Sausage Egg Biscuit. I guess it's really a Sausage Biscuit and the Egg is an add on, but here is the shocking part - they ask you if you want your egg folded, or round. When did that start? It startled me when she said it and I just stared at the drive thru speaker for a bit and then asked her to repeat the question. "Do you want your egg folded or round?", she repeated, and the tone of her voice had a subtext of "dumbass" in it, which was probably not unfounded. I ordered the round egg because it's more visually appealing, usually it looks like cartoon food. I didn't tell her that part. I'm not sure how much of this sandwich is real food, but it does a pretty good job of posing as real food. The biscuit was alright, a little smooshy, but it didn't crumble apart. The round egg was cartoony and ok, I already knew it wouldn't be runny, and the cheese was nice and melty. The sausage had the exact sausage flavor I was craving. Overall, it was just about exactly what I thought it would be although a little on the salty side. After looking up the nutritional content it turns out it was a lot saltier than I thought, but it didn't taste as such. It has considerably less sodium than the Denny's sandwich I recently had, which isn't saying much.

The Result - 3.50 Better Than You Thinks out of 5 Better Than You Thinks. I intentionally avoided my previous McDonald's review so as not to color my opinion on this one - and now that I look it's the same sandwich, but on a biscuit instead of a muffin. Well, shit. I thought I reviewed the classic McMuffin with Canadian bacon last time. Nope. But, I have rated this sandwich much higher than that one. I can't change it now, that would be intellectually dishonest. I guess the crux of the biscuit is "what a difference a day (or biscuit) can make". Makes sense. Maybe the first time I went to this McDonald's the head chef was on vacation and the sous chef made my sandwich and he was a little hungover. I don't know. This sandwich was pretty good but I had low expectations and I think that helped. It shouldn't be a surprise that it was OK, they've been cranking out these sandwiches by the thousands for several decades.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #65 - Johnson Public House aka Special Agents Recommend Special Sandwiches

Sandwich: Sunday Morning
Location: Johnson Public House
Date: September 11, 2016
Cost: $7

I had heard the rumblings about the Sunday Morning sandwich at Johnson Public House but hadn't hadn't made it a point to stop in there. In retrospect it was foolish to wait this long.

Honestly, I was really in the mood for breakfast sausage on this morning as the past 3 reviews have all included ham, and before that it had been a solid run of bacon-focused sandwiches. Things have been a little hamcentric here lately and that was going to continue for at least one more day.

Breakfast sausage aside, I wanted a really good cup of coffee and JPH fell more or less on the path of my morning errand. Also, I read the description of the Sunday Morning sandwich and whenever I see the words ham and maple syrup together I can only think of Special Agent Dale Cooper.

The description from their web site:

Sunday Morning: ham + maple syrup + cheddar + fried egg

Very enticing. 

I couldn't decide if this shot or the following one with the direct sun was better.

Too much sun? Probably. 
The Sandwich - Sunday Morning. No options are offered. As soon as this sandwich came out I forgot about my desire for breakfast sausage. The top piece of bread was slightly askew and when I lifted it I saw that the yolk was still a little bit runny. What a pleasant surprise. When I think of coffee shop sandwiches I think of boring eggs that have probably been microwaved or whatever, but this sandwich immediately pushed that thought out of my head. You can see the nice base of melty cheddar on the bottom and while you can't see the maple syrup, it is there. The maple syrup is the key here - there is just enough to combine with the ham in a tasty way but not so much that it takes over and is oozing out all over the place. I was afraid there would be too much. Agent Cooper was really on to something here. That top piece of bread might look burnt, but no, it had a nice toasted char to it and while this was a fairly messy affair, the bread kept things together.

The Result - 4.75 Special Agents out of 5 Special Agents. I have definitely been more generous with my ratings in 2016, at least on the really good sandwiches. Maybe I've just been hitting the right places at the right time. OK, but anyway, this was a great sandwich. This could easily be a 5. I can't think of what I would do to improve it. Maybe serve it with a little wet nap like you get at a barbecue place? Make the egg runnier and the sandwich even messier and serve it with two wet naps? The perfect amount of syrup does make your fingers sticky and then when you try to take photos of the sandwich your phone gets a little sticky. That might be the definition of a First World Problem. This sandwich also gets points for creativity - nobody else is making anything like this out there in the field. Are they? If they are I'd like to know about it. I think this sandwich would also work with breakfast sausage in place of the ham, although perhaps not as well. I'm going to have to try the other sandwiches at some point - I almost ordered the roast beef but Agent Cooper kept me on track. The cup of Kenyan coffee was incredible.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #64 - Sardine aka Pushing The Limits Of The Definition

Sandwich: Croque Madame
Location: Sardine
Date: August 28, 2016
Cost: $15.50, comes with mixed greens and frites and two adorable little pickles.

I had been hearing about the Sardine brunch for some time, particularly the bloody mary, and realized it was finally the right time to go. The weather was perfect for a bike ride and the proximity to my next destination, the Orton Park Festival, lined up. Timing is everything. Brunch me up, Sardine!

I don't have a photo of the menu but their web site has all the info:

CROQUE MADAME with Bayonne ham, gruyère cheese, béchamel, egg served with mixed greens and frites. (I think the printed menu listed the egg as "sunny side up").

The egg yolk was a symbolic metaphor for the rest of the day. Note: two adorable little pickles.

Things are getting sloppy here but I wanted you to see the guts of this sandwich. Note: the two adorable little pickles were consumed immediately and are not in this shot.
The Sandwich - Croque Madame. First of all, Croque Madame is as fun to say as Moons Over My Hammy, but for completely different reasons. I probably pronounced it wrong anyway. The server did ask if the sunny side up egg was going to be OK, obviously she is not one of my loyal readers and has not grown weary of my talk of runny eggs. Or, she IS a loyal reader and was just egging me on. This leads me to believe that you could order the egg another way despite how foolish that would be.

Honestly, I was not familiar with Croque Madame, or her male sandwich counterpart Croque Monsieur, but I found a nice little breakdown that answered my main question - why is the version with the egg called "Madame"? (The egg is said to resemble a woman's hat.) If that's true I'll eat my hat. 

This plate was a work of art when it arrived. Everything about it looked inviting and appetizing. Even the sacrificial pickles cresting between the sandwich and the greens threw off a vibe of "look at how cute we are - YOU MUST EAT US NOW". You might think that the béchamel and the cheese and the runny egg would lead to a goopy mess but they have all the ratios nailed down cause it's all just right. They don't list what type of bread they use but it must be something hardy as it stood up to all that butter and cheese. 

The little cup of Dijon mustard pairs well with the ham and I spent the whole time trying to get the correct ratio of ham/bread/cheese/egg/mustard onto the fork. Even when I didn't succeed the bites were mighty tasty. 

The greens had a slightly sweet flavor, less tangy than most breakfast greens, and are a wonderful pairing. I like my Freedom Frites crispy and that's exactly how these were served. 

The Result - 4.99 Sandwiches By Definition out of 5 Sandwiches By Definition. I can't think of anything wrong with this sandwich, or even this entire meal. While the Croque Madame is by definition a sandwich, you can't pick it up and eat it like a traditional sandwich. You need a fork or you're in trouble. That isn't the fault of the Madame but it wouldn't be fair to the other sandwiches to not point it out. Maybe it isn't technically a breakfast sandwich due to the egg being on the outside of the bread? I'm not going to quibble about such trifles. 

In the past I have grumbled about sandwich prices, perhaps too much, and $15.50 would seem to be a lot for a sandwich, but this is a fairly large meal of excellent food. It's less than twice the cost of Moons Over My Hammy and that sandwich was mouth garbage.

I didn't even mention the beet bloody mary yet. It's still a bloody mary at heart, with a dash of beety goodness that hits you as soon as you sip and then settles into a more traditional bloody mary taste.

Everything about this experience was right on - the perfect morning for a bike ride, the food, service (at the bar) and setting (vibrant but not overly busy and loud), all came together. The overall goal of this research is to see if an excellent sandwich can affect your entire day and attitude and there is no question that this sandwich did that. 














Saturday, August 20, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #63 - Denny's aka Salt Is A Drug

Sandwich: Moons Over My Hammy
Location: Denny's (East)
Date: August 19, 2016
Cost: $8.59, comes with choice of potato

Somehow it took 20 months for me to visit one of the more obvious choices for a breakfast sandwich. I think my cousin even called out the The Grand Slamwich in the early days of these reviews, and now that I finally made it to Denny's* I didn't even order it. 

Prior to my Denny's visit if you had asked me who makes the "Moons Over My Hammy" sandwich I would have said "IHOP". I think I may have been mixing up my cheekily-named chain restaurant breakfasts. See "Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity". I guess those are the only two breakfast menu items I can think of with cutesy names. You don't see Waffle House jackin' around with dumb names but you can order a Waffle House tie dye tshirt from their web site. I hope I see somebody walking around in one of those. I will buy them a breakfast sandwich, or a hashbrown bowl, if available.

The dream...

...vs. the reality

#whogivesaratsassaboutfluffypancakes
The Sandwich - Moons Over My Hammy. I was going to get The Grand Slamwich but the caloric content scared me off. There are no options with the sandwich although they offer you choice of potato - the menu only lists browns. I like the idea that this sandwich has American AND Swiss cheese on it. I also like that it comes on sourdough bread. Sadly, those concepts are where my enjoyment ended. This was not a good sandwich. It tasted of salt and not much else. Sodium with a sandwich texture. For some reason I thought the heavy salt flavor was coming from the bread, but I couldn't really pin it down. The very first bite sent me into a Sonic flashback that I didn't enjoy.

I don't think consumer grade cold cut deli ham has any business being near a breakfast sandwich - give me some nice ham or stick with sausage and bacon. I guess I can't complain about the ham too much as all I tasted was salt. 2,560 milligrams of salt, to be exact, which is more sodium than you should have in an entire day. The Sonic sandwich only had 1,560 mg of sodium and that was bad enough. Maybe I can blame the ham for some of the salt flavor.


The Result - 1.56 Bad Sodium Trips out of 5 Bad Sodium Trips. I'm giving this the same ranking as the Sonic sandwich. This one might have been worse than the Sonic sandwich but it's hard to compare them 18 months apart. It certainly wasn't any better than The Breakfast Toaster. The fun pretty much ended right after I said "Moons Over My Hammy", which I did enjoy saying. Honestly, this sandwich made me feel just a little "off" for the rest of the morning. I was glad I had brought a salad for lunch. 

I guess this sandwich did serve a higher purpose in that it got me talking about salt which reminded me of one of the greatest songs to come out of a Madison band - More Salt.

The coffee and hash browns were fine. I actually enjoyed the hash browns quite a bit but that may have been in comparison to the sandwich. 

*If you didn't click the Denny's link just know that you are missing the "Pancake Rejection Simulator", which I think you should check out. Todd will be sad if you don't.