Monday, September 23, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #142 - Player's Sports Bar aka Friends Old and New

Sandwich: Buzzy with Sausage
Location: Player's Sports Bar & Grill
Date: September 21, 2019
Cost: $7.50, with cheesy hash browns

This sandwich was not planned. My visit to Player's came up at the last minute and since I hadn't eaten I knew I'd be revisiting my old friend. Until I sat down to write this I did not realize that it had been since January 1, 2018, that I'd had a Buzzy. There have been a few patty melts and burgers during that span, and at least one basket of chicken wings, but no breakfast sandwiches. 

I was ready for a Buzzy but I didn't know I was missing an important part of The Buzzy Sandwich Story. A cornerstone to the monument of the Buzzy had not yet been put in place. 

Specifically - I had never ordered it with sausage. I'm as shocked as you are. No, I'm several layers more shocked than you are. 

This seems impossible but when I looked back at my previous visits I realized that Sandwich #109 coincided with the period when the sausage option had been replaced by the burger patty. At some point the burger was wisely switched back to sausage and the options are once again ham, bacon, or sausage. 

Looking further back on the timeline, Breakfast Sandwich #100 was ordered with bacon as was Sandwich #69. Everybody knows the story of Sandwich #1. (No? Spoiler - it had bacon on it.)

I'm shocked but not ashamed. I like bacon and so do you, however, we strive to provide a wide swatch of informative sandwich opinions here and this oversight needed to be corrected. Toot Sweet.

It is very unlikely I'll order the version with ham, research be damned, so this post about sausage is as historic as writing about a breakfast sandwich can be. Gravitas with a side of gravy. 


This photo wasn't taken by a drone, it just looks that way. 

Wait just a daggum minute! Is that TWO sausage patties? Yes, it is. Also note, Hopalicious photo bomb. 
The Sandwich - Buzzy with Sausage. Other than choice of meat there are no other options offered for the Buzzy. I assume they always double up on the sausage patties since they are quite thin but I don't know that for a fact. They do always get that Texas toast just right. The American cheese was perfectly melty and the egg was just slightly runny. Take a good look at that photo and you know what this sandwich was all about - it was a salty, fatty, slightly crunchy, gooey and tasty treat.

The Result - 4.3 Corrected Oversights out of 5 Corrected Oversights. In short, the sausage version gives the bacon version a good run for it's money. It's a win-win situation (not for your arteries), and since both versions are both equally bad for your aortas and ventricles, choose whichever your heart desires. The Buzzy is a classic, simple breakfast sandwich. It does benefit greatly from it's surroundings as I notice when I look back at my previous reviews that all five of the Buzzy's have been consumed on a weekend during football season. The atmosphere at Player's on a football Saturday is a perfect compliment to this sandwich - folks attending the game are getting a quick bite in before heading out to the game and everybody else is settling onto a bar stool to watch it on the teevee. If you're lucky and you choose the right stool you'll make a new friend like I did. His name is Herbie and he likes sports. I wish he had ordered a Buzzy as he would have made a helluva guest reviewer, but it wasn't in the cards on this day.

I came away with a new friend and the realization that my old friend the Buzzy Sandwich had a tasty side to him that I was unaware of.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #141 - Gotham Bagels aka Bagel Trifecta

Sandwich: Arthur Avenue
Location: Gotham Bagels
Date: August 30, 2019
Cost: $10.50

I had to hit the Dane County Farmers Market and that meant a breakfast sandwich was on my horizon. After mulling potential new options I realized I didn't want to mess around with amateurs and the choices were narrowed to Ancora or Gotham. Sandwich redux! Gotham won out because that's where I parked my bike. This isn't rocket surgery. I don't know why I didn't consider Casetta Kitchen.

If you're up to speed on all of this you know that Gotham Bagels provided sandwiches #40 and #132 and that both of those sandwiches are in the All Time Top 25. That's a lot of pressure. (I just realized that the phrase "All Time" can't be accurate. If I were to eat 20 sandwiches that rank 4.81 or above, Gotham Bagel will no longer be on the list. It's too late, I'm not renaming it, but I want you to know it's bothering me a little bit. If you're the kind of person who prays please say a prayer that I am served 20 near perfect breakfast sandwiches so we can solidify my hasty foolishness. Thanking you in advance.)


They've revamped the menu since my last visit. How exciting! I was really struggling with choosing an option and was leaning towards the Rocky's Deli (not pictured here) or the O.M.F.G. but switched it up before I made it to the counter. Please note this is only half of the menu

That's a righteous cross-section shot. I wasn't planning on eating this at the park but it was too hot and crowded in the bagel shoppe.

Fear not! The Sandwich Gods are looking after you. 
The Sandwich - Arthur Avenue on an Everything Bagel. I don't know what I was picturing in my head when I ordered it but this is a real chunka-hunka sandwich! It has heft. I love that it was wrapped up all tight and snug so I could bike down to the park without a worry that something would happen to my precious cargo. The rope sausage makes this a little clunky to eat, you just have to be mindful of your bites and aware that your sausage might try to sneak out the back door. We should all be in-the-moment when we eat our sandwiches anyway. (Consider signing up for my workshop - Zen sandwiching.) If my memory serves this sausage isn't quite as spicy as that of sandwich #132, but it still has some kick. The chicken egg isn't runny although the bagel could handle it. The onions and green peppers pair with the sausage expertly and provide some extra texture and viscosity. The mozzarella is proper here as well providing a smooth balance and letting the sausage, onion and pepper do the heavy lifting. Let's be honest, this isn't groundbreaking stuff, people have been pairing those items for a long time, and there's a reason for that. The perfectly toasted everything bagel (the adult version of the donut with "sprinkles") provided the salty and slightly nutty vehicle for it all.

The Result - 4.00 First Impressions Are Important out of 5 First Impressions Are Important. My first thought was to order the Rocky's Deli sandwich and in retrospect that may have been a wiser choice. There was nothing wrong with this sandwich, it was mighty fine, but I felt like I was trying to eat lunch at 9:00 AM instead of breakfast. It's not the sandwiches fault and I still enjoyed it, but something wasn't quite right. This slight misstep may have been the worst thing to happen to me all day and that's something to be thankful for.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #140 - Bassett Street Brunch Club aka Doy!

Sandwich: Bagel Breakfast Sandwich w/bacon
Location: Bassett Street Brunch Club
Date: August 10, 2019
Cost: $12.45, with mixed greens or potatoes.

There has been a casual goal of revisiting locations in 2019 to see if they have have spruced up their menus or upped their game, or, just to try a different sandwich. That hasn't been happening much but I have made it back to Kwik Trip, Gotham Bagels and McDonald's. Let's be honest here, Kwik Trip and McDonald's barely count. They're just slinging out grab-n-go sandwiches instead creating something made to order. They could be making their sandwiches with love, it's not impossible, but their modus operandi is efficiency and volume.

I knew I wanted to get back to Bassett Street Brunch Club for a few reasons. #A, I was aware that they had changed the menu and the breakfast sandwich was now different than the one I had waaaaay back at Breakfast Sandwich #5. #B, the Horchata Latte - steamed horchata poured through espresso. People have a specific reactions when I tell them about this drink, they either insist they need it immediately or they are nonplussed at my enthusiasm. #C, due to the location of B.S.B.C, it's really only convenient to visit via bicycle, and early in the day at that. When I'm on a sandwich mission I don't have the patience to stand in line and I'm not going to drive downtown and try to find somewhere to park my car. That's dumb. I was awake early and it was pleasant biking weather and I felt that my mission was clear.

Today was the day for the repeat visit. It was obvious. It was in my daily sandwich horoscope - "Bacon has just entered the house of Virgo and with chicken egg in retrograde there is no better time for runny yolk to make it's presence felt. Remember that when emotions get oozy a simple piece of toasted bread can provide the balance needed to focus on the present." Doy.

I forgot to take a photo of the menu cause I was distracted by the Horchata Latte. Who cares? Here is the description:

Bagel Breakfast Sandwich

I don't know what happened with this photo but it looks like I took it using a drone or something. (I didn't.)

As far as my generally crappy photos go, this one is pretty good. I feel like I really Leibovitzed this one. 
The Sandwich - Bagel Breakfast Sandwich. I added the bacon. Doy. I didn't bike all the way down there to not have bacon. Plus, my sandwich horoscope was pretty clear about bacon. First impression - the bagel was way under toasted if it was toasted at all. It may have just been sitting in a warm room. I admit it rankled me a bit. Second impression -  I wish that egg would have been runny. Third impression - the avocado was perfectly ripe and I've said it before but more breakfast sandwiches should have avocado. The avocado and the pesto aioli teamed up to give this a wonderful creamy texture that played well off the salty bacon. The pesto aioli was understated in a good way and the cheddar wasn't particularly forefront either. But here is how it fell short of it's potential - cook that egg over-medium so the yolk is runny, toast the bagel to a crispy outer layer and let the diner wallow in the slopification of it all. Here's an extra napkin. Of all the bagels the "everything" bagel seems to benefit most from toasting. I think it's the sesame seeds.

The Result - 3.59 Doys out of 5 Doys. It's a tasty sandwich but we don't grade potential here, we grade results. It had room for improvement, especially at the $12.45 price point. That's a bit pricey but avocados are like bitcoins right now, you never know how much they're going to cost. Maybe that's part of it. The mixed greens help, I've stated my love of mixed greens with a sandwich numerous times and these were zippy and tangy and exactly what you think they were. Still, it's just some mixed greens. I'm probably starting to sound like a cheapskate. 

They still have the robot theme going on here and I still don't understand it but I do like it. 

Now that I've completed this review it's safe to check my notes from the previous review. Hmmm, very similar comments on the greens and the robots. I also sound like a cheapskate in that review but it was a different sandwich. I did rank this one higher but I think know my rankings have been increasing in general since 2015. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #139 - McDonald's (yet again) aka I Am One With The Billions

Sandwich: Sausage McMuffin with Egg
Location: McDonald's South Towne Mall
Date: August 3, 2019
Cost: $3.18 (I think?)

Let's get a couple of things out of the way right off the bat. I've reviewed McDonald's entirely too often - #17#66#83#95 and #97 are the results of my trips through the Golden Arches. Then I tried to create a breakfast sandwich version of the The Big Mac that was somewhat successful and then about 4 months later McDonald's launched their Triple Breakfast Stacks which I swore I would never review. This was partly because it sounds like way too much saturated fat and calories and partly because these overloaded sandwiches usually get all the proportions wrong. If the proportions are off everything gets thrown out of whack. It doesn't work. Have you had a Kit Kat Big Kat? No bueno. It's a gimmick and I don't appreciate it. 

But then I woke up on this Saturday morning with a long day ahead of me and I thought "If not now, when?". Gimmicks be damned! It was decided I would take a plunge into the stacks and see how I emerged on the other side. Hold my feet, I'm going in!

Here's the thing - the Triple Stacks weren't shown the drive-thru menu. I inquired and she said they didn't have them. I was staring at the speaker so I couldn't see her eyes to tell if she was lying to me. (Hold on a minute. How long will it be before the drive-thru ordering system is a video screen with a generically attractive AI "person" taking your order and suggesting you try the new Mcberry McSwirly McSlush? I'll take the under on that. It's probably already happening in Japan. I'm not going to look it up.) My order was changed to the classic Sausage McMuffin with Egg but I was feeling uneasy and perplexed. Were they only offered at some locations? That doesn't make sense, it was a national campaign.

As far as I can tell (with minimal research), the Triple Breakfast Stacks were discontinued without warning or fanfare. We're probably all better off for it but now I regret my choice to avoid it. Dereliction of duty? Perhaps. None of you were going to eat one anyway, or were you? Did you? Please submit your reports. 
I was holding this in my hand in the car so please excuse the extra shitty quality of the photo. 

Now this is a nice photo. This is a throwback to the time we made homemade Big Macs, except I bought the buns from McDonalds. They even toasted them for me and put them in the fun little boxes. 

The Sandwich - Sausage McMuffin with Egg. You know what this is. What can I say about the Sausage McMuffin that you don't already know deep in your heart and hippocampus? Nothing. This was one done right. The cheese was all melty and the egg was the predictable puck and the sausage tasted exactly as expected which was the main reason I ordered this. 

The Result - 4.0 Billions and Billions Served out of 5 Billions and Billions Served. What can I say? I really enjoyed this. It fit perfectly with my morning which McDonalds had nothing to do with but yet they benefited from my great mood. Lucky them. I wasn't even upset that I didn't get to have a Triple Breakfast Stack. In fact, I'm elated. Happy Trails, Triple Breakfast Stack, we hardly knew ya'.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #138 - Pasture and Plenty aka The Best Laid Plans

Sandwich: Ed Sammy
Location: Pasture and Plenty
Date: July 27, 2019
Cost: $10

Waking up to a perfect Saturday morning in July is a clear sign from the Sandwich Gods that that one needs to jump on their bicycle and seek a sandwich to sate the soul.  

The plan was to visit Pasture and Plenty, a somewhat newish place on the near west side that I hadn't done much research on but I knew had a vegetarian breakfast sandwich that includes red pepper jam. That sounded like reason enough to pedal over there and it was just far enough away to offset my carbo-footprint. A vegetarian breakfast sandwich? Am I going to start talking about carbohydrates and the waxy built up of cholesterol? What have I become? This is bullshit. 

As I pedaled I started considering my options. I briefly became hung up on getting a horchata latte from Bassett Street Brunch Club so I could try their Bagel Breakfast Sandwich which was not on the menu when I visited for Sandwich #5. The horchata latte was soon pushed from my thoughts by the idea of visiting Bradbury's. It's been too long since I've stopped there and the pull to change my mission was strong. No. Although this year started with the idea of revisiting some of the early sandwich locations there have been new and enticing offerings that I've felt compelled to visit so the redux reviews will have to wait. My thoughts came full circle and I stayed on my path to Pasture and Plenty. 

And then I saw the Daily Goodness board and decided I'd rather have the Ed Sammy than the vegetarian offering that is a regular on the menu.

Bring on the greens. I'll take a side of greens over potatoes just about every time. Also, check out that crusty crown on the sandwich!

Things are about to get sloppy.

The Sandwich - Ed Sammy. Ultimately, my plan to try their regular sandwich failed as I chose the special. As soon as it came out I felt I had made the right choice - it was a beautiful little specimen nestled with a pile of verdant greens I wasn't expecting. The beer cheese roll had a firm and crusty exterior that almost crumbled when I cut it. I was concerned it would be a bit dry but the yolk, corn aioli and heirloom tomato more than made up for that. The bacon was crispy, maybe a hair crispier than I normally like it, but the salty flavor swirled together with the overall savoriness and although the roll tried like heck to contain the sloppiness it couldn't - but I'm not holding that against it. I welcomed the slop, embraced the slop and became one with the slop. We have the napkin technology to deal with this. Also, this is the time of year you want tomato on your sandwich, in fact, I'll go so far as to proclaim that all sandwiches should have fresh tomato on them for the next several weeks.

The Result - 4.25 Savory Slops out of 5 Savory Slops. This was a fantastic sandwich but I think you already figured that out. I suppose I docked it a few points for the bacon and slightly too crusty exterior of the roll. That's nitpicking but that's what we do here and those things really don't detract much from the enjoyment of the sandwich but they have to be mentioned. I haven't taken any time to get into the overall experience but I love the bright and open space that they have here. It's much larger than I thought it would be. The Saturday morning play list was appropriate as well, Avalon and The Passenger set the mood for sandwich consumption - at least they do for this reporter. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #137 - Ancora Coffee aka For Four Fjords

Sandwich: The Number Four
Location: Ancora Coffee, King St.
Date: July 13, 2019
Cost: $8

You might recall that back in May when I was out for Breakfast Sandwich #135 I stopped at Ancora Coffee for a beverage and noted their breakfast sandwich list. That info was tucked away for future reference and accessed on this fine morning when I had time to bike down there before the Art Fair on the Square hordes started mucking up the scene.

On my initial visit in May I was smitten with the Sausage Jalapeño sandwich but an astute reader commented that The Number Four deserved consideration.

I'm here to serve the people and I saw this choice as a win/win situation.

I almost didn't see it as a choice at all - while biking down there I considered ordering both sandwiches. Part of my reasoning was that I was biking and therefore burning calories, admittedly only a fraction of the caloric explosion that two breakfast sandwiches would introduce into my framework. The thought was discarded when I accepted the realization that two breakfast sandwiches would surely cast me into a state of bloated torpor and that sounded yuckier than the joy of eating the two sandwiches.


They have options. There was also a special that involved blueberries but I was too focused on The Number Four.

The sandwich arrives in cross section mode.
The Sandwich - The Number Four. I keep saying "The Number Four" and I'm starting to feel like I'm on Sesame Street. No options are offered when you order but it's worth noting that while this sandwich comes with scrambled chicken egg some of the other sandwiches come with a fried egg. You could probably get a fried egg if that's your thing but more on that later. You might think that the chipotle aioli/cherry chutney/pepperjack cheese trifecta would make this a spicy little number but it does not. It has a touch of heat but the flavors blend well with the cherry chutney taking the helm. The chutney also has nice tamarind note that comes out with each bite. The bacon was crispier than I like it and even though I knew the eggs were going to be scrambled and therefore without a runny yolk that did disappoint me a bit. I think this sandwich could handle a runny yolk but it would be a messy little humdinger. The chutney gives this plenty of moisture and the cheese and aioli help with the viscosity. The English muffin did a valiant job of holding things together but it could only do so much and this was one of those fun sandwiches where chunks of egg squish out the other side when you're biting it. This is a not a complaint, it's a public service announcement.

The Result - 4.44 Number Fours out of 5 Number Fours. The bacon/cherry chutney pairing is what makes this sandwich but you probably already figured that out. It's a fantastic little sandwich but the overly crisped bacon kept it form pushing the stratosphere of the ratings. Bacon crispiness is a personal preference but I like to quibble with these highly ranked sandwiches, otherwise, what's the point? I'm not going to talk about the egg anymore, you know where I stand. I'm also not going to say the number "four" for awhile, or even words that sound like "four", such as "Ford" and "fjord". But I can say this - I am going to get back there for the Sausage Jalapeño one of these days. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #136 - Not a Lab Sandwich aka Which Came First, The Sandwich Or The Wrap?

Sandwich: Chicken Thigh, Chicken Egg, Buffalo Wing Monterey Jack, Avocado, Red Onion, Multigrain Wrap.
Date: July 4, 2019 

It's likely that most of you are not scientists or sandwichologists. Still, many of you are probably familiar with how laboratory testing works - you have constants and controls and you have variables that you are testing. This can be applied to sandwich construction as we've seen in previous posts.

This sandwich (actually a wrap but we're calling it a sandwich) was nothing but wild variables. It was closer to free jazz outfreakage than my normal lab work.

I thought I had items to make a breakfast sandwich. And I did, kind of. I had eggs and cheese. The lone English muffin was well past it's prime and I had polished off the last of the bacon earlier in the week. The only protein I had was leftover chicken thigh and the only decent bread-like material was a multigrain wrap. There were options for cheese but I already sensed this was going off the rails so I went with the last of the StoneRidge Buffalo Wing Monterey Jack. (Those folks at StoneRidge are doing some fine work and deserve your attention if you aren't familiar.) I scrounged for an avocado and red onion and felt like I had the makings for a decent sandwich. 

There was the question of how to cook the chicken eggs. I came *this* close to making them with a runny yolk just to see what would happen. That would have been foolish. No reasonable person would put an egg with a runny yolk into a wrap, but reasonable people don't have sandwich blogs. What would Ornette Coleman do? I settled for the responsible choice and scrambled the eggs. 

Don't worry, there is a layer of melted cheese under all that goodness. That's Cholula hot sauce.  

Aww man, I used those fancy toothpicks with the colored curly thingys and then I cropped it off cause I got excited about the gooey cheese and avocado.
The Sandwich - I think we've covered that to the extent that it needs covering. 

The Result - The flavors came together really well but it didn't taste like a breakfast sandwich and wasn't actually a sandwich and truth be told it wasn't breakfast either. I sat down to eat this at 12:10 so it was really lunch, which is where wraps belong. A wrap doesn't feel like breakfast. But let's get back to the flavor. I think the reason it didn't taste like a breakfast sandwich was the lack of fat and salt that bacon or sausage provide. So, it was a healthy breakfast sandwich that wasn't a sandwich. This was more like a breakfast burrito than a sandwich. It doesn't even belong here but it's too late now.