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

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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #62 - Off Broadway aka Just Like (Sand)wiches At Black Masses

Sandwich: Breakfast War Pig
Location: Off Broadway Drafthouse
Date: August 6, 2016
Cost: $11.50, comes with a side of greens

Off Broadway is the retooled South Bay Lounge, tucked just a bit off of W. Broadway near South Towne Mall. The chef came over from Crema Cafe and brought the War Pig sandwich which had been an occasional weekend special at Crema and one that I had never gotten around to trying. Crema Cafe lists their specials in a weekly email, with descriptions, so if you don't make it to the restaurant you know exactly what you are missing:

Breakfast War Pig
Grilled Niman Ranch pork loin, Uphoff Farms ham, Jones Farm bacon, fried egg, melted Muenster cheese, citrus aioli, red onion and baby arugula on toasted ciabatta. Served with greens in our citrus vinaigrette.

You can imagine my excitement in learning that this would be a regular item on the Off Broadway menu.

Just look at all that pig.
The Sandwich - Breakfast War Pig. The sandwich came out of the kitchen piping hot - there were actually little steam curls coming off of it but I couldn't capture them from the angle that the light was coming from. It comes pre-sliced revealing layer upon layer of pork to satisfy all your goyem taste buds. The pork loin is the biggest flavor on this sandwich and it hits you right away. It was grilled perfectly and was a bit juicy but not overly so. The crispy saltiness of the bacon follows right after the pork loin and is a very nice compliment, indeed. The fried egg is almost superfluous. This is technically a breakfast sandwich but in reality is more of a pork sandwich that has a fried egg on it. The meat to egg ratio is much higher than on your average breakfast sandwich. This isn't a bad thing, and is probably evident from the photo, but it's worth noting. The greens give this a healthy nod and the Muenster cheese pairs up with the citrus aioli to give this the proper viscosity. The red onions didn't want to cooperate and fell out of the sandwich a few times, but with this much pork you need some onion on there for a little zip. The toasted ciabatta did an admiral job of corralling the pig which was no easy feat. It wasn't overly bready and held sturdy while not being too thick and chewy.

The Result - 4.69 Sandwiches Named After Black Sabbath Songs out of 5 Sandwiches Named After Black Sabbath Songs. This was an excellent and filling sandwich. After eating this I went to an outdoor music festival and didn't eat again for another 7 or 8 hours. There is nothing wrong with this sandwich but I'm not convinced the ham needs to be there, I didn't really taste it although I'm sure it added some of that delicious saltiness. I wonder what would happen if you cooked the egg so it had a runny yolk? It might get overly sloppy - but pigs like slop.