Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #49 - Mickey's Tavern aka not Mickies Dairy Bar

Sandwich: World's Greatest Sandwich
Location: Mickey's Tavern
Date: December 29, 2015
Cost: $8.50 comes with slaw and chips

I feel like the transition of Mickey's from just a bar with food to a bar known for really good food started happening about 5 years ago. I think they had a few good reviews and then all manner of hungry people started showing up, including a trio of freshly tattooed ladies from Green Bay who thought some of the regulars were "drug addicts" and a guy who thought my friend and I were homosexuals because we were drinking screwdrivers instead of beer. Do gay people prefer screwdrivers? I never did figure that out. It's only fair to mention that all of these people were perfectly pleasant and not causing any trouble, they were just misguided and/or paranoid. This has nothing to do with sandwiches but is perhaps more interesting than me trying to find another word to describe a cooked egg.

Anyway, Mickey's Worlds Greatest Sandwich has been on the list from the beginning. I'd had it several times prior to this year and don't really think of it as a breakfast sandwich because I never ate it in the morning and it's available all day (I think). Still, it conforms to my definition of a breakfast sandwich which is simply a sandwich with a chicken egg on it.
It's really a BLT in disguise.

I like where this is headed.

That fortress of fries will not protect you.
The Sandwich - World's Greatest Sandwich. That sandwich comes with a side of braggadocio, and cole slaw. No options offered here, except for the sides. People go nuts over the sexy fries but I just wanted regular fries. The sandwich is really a BLT with bonus cheese and egg and who would argue with that concept? The toasted sourdough is great for this sandwich, it holds everything together and is always a welcome selection. The egg was cooked to my liking and there was plenty of romaine on here - enough to make me think I was eating healthy. Maybe I was. The tomato was what you expect for December. The bacon was just a touch crispier than I like it and there was definitely too much mayo for my tastes, but it wasn't a sloppy mess. It's worth noting that the vinegar based slaw at Mickey's is fantastic, it has a slightly spicy edge to it.

The Result - 4.28 screwdrivers out of 5 screwdrivers. It's a damn good sandwich. This one was particularly hard to rate, not because of the sandwich but because it's December 29 and it has become clear that I'm not going to review 52 sandwiches before the end of the calendar year*. To be honest, I was kind of forcing the issue with this one. Just a bit. Having said that, it was still a pleasure to eat this sandwich.

*I've decided that The Year Of The Breakfast Sandwich is kind of like the Chinese New Year, it doesn't necessarily conform to our regular calendar. YOTBS was not officially declared until January 7 of 2015. I'm going to need those extra days.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #48 - Graze aka Serendipitous Sausage

Sandwich: Chef Tory's Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Graze
Date: December 27, 2015
Cost: $12 comes with mixed greens or hand-cut fries

Graze has been on the list from the start but each time I was going out it wasn't the right choice for that day. It was only a matter of time.

If you saw my previous review you know I was lamenting not ordering a salami breakfast sandwich when I had the chance. I hadn't intentionally planned it, but when I saw that Graze offers a sandwich with summer sausage it was easy to make the choice between the Chef Tory and Loaded Sandwich options. I was looking for some variation in my cured meats.
Many great options and the sandwich eater has a choice. 

Toasty muffin! Egg and cheese wings!

Yolk time.
The Sandwich - Chef Tory's Breakfast Sandwich. Sandwiches on English muffins always seem small but it really is perfect for a breakfast sandwich - they are dense enough to keep everything together and yet somehow still seem kind of light. Also, they get a nice toasty crunch. You can see this one was toasted well and I was excited for the summer sausage. It was a great change from bacon or breakfast sausage and it didn't disappoint. The chicken egg was perfect for my tastes and when paired with the squishy avocado the sandwich didn't need any other sauce or condiment. The cheese wasn't quite fully melted but American cheese almost doesn't need to be. The only real improvement on this sandwich would be the tomato - it was just a sad winter tomato. That's what happens in Wisconsin in December. The greens were fresh with a dusting of parmesan cheese and light vinaigrette.

The Result - 4.67 Surprise Sausages out of 5 Surprise Sausages. That tomato would be much better in August, of course, and $12 seems a bit high for a small breakfast sandwich, even one this good. Note that their online menu lists it at $9, which is probably just a mistake. Or maybe it's market price avocado? It doesn't matter, this is a great morning sandwich and can really spin you in the right direction for the rest of your day.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #47 - Bagels Forever aka Last Minute Shopping and Research

Sandwich: Egg, Cheese and Bacon on a Bagel
Location: Bagels Forever
Date: December 24, 2015
Cost: $2.23

I wasn't even thinking about a breakfast sandwich. It was Christmas Eve day and I had a few last minute things to pick up and errands to run and while I was doing that I realized I hadn't eaten much and was feeling peckish. About 60 seconds after that realization I saw Bagels Forever and remembered I had them on my sandwich list. It was meant to be, it was a Sandwich of Destiny*. I am rarely in the area of Bagels Forever so I whipped a shitty and got down to business.

They were hanging a sign on the door as I approached that said the deli was closing in 20 minutes. Just in time. I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese out of habit, and choose a 7 grain bagel. I guess I thought that would be a healthier option. As they prepared the bagel I saw the meat case stocked with Boar's Head products. Dammit. I probably should have gotten the egg, cheese and salami on an onion bagel. Haste makes taste waste.
I like that melty cheese. I also like that foil wrapping paper. It makes me feel like I'm at a sporting event.

The Sandwich - Egg, Cheese and Bacon on a 7 Grain Bagel. I already expressed my buyers remorse above. I think the "closing soon" sign and general Holiday angst led to my quick and possibly ill-considered sandwich order. So be it. The choice of bagel is really your only option, whatever kind of bagels they have is what you can get your sandwich on. That's a bit overwhelming. I considered an egg bagel but that seems redundant. The chicken egg is a perfect little patty. Most of those grab & go type sandwiches have the egg cooked the same way, which is, not runny. Imagine the mess you would make on your tie, or desk, or both. The cheese was nicely melted and the bacon was crisp. The bagel could have been toasted better, it was a bit chewy. A bagel is a hearty delivery system and holds up well to messy cheese and condiments and such. This one could have used something like that, it was a shade on the dry side.

The Result - 3.62 Stocking Stuffers out of 5 Stocking Stuffers. I'll tell you this - the price is right on the Bagel Forever breakfast bagel. It's a perfectly suitable quick sandwich if you're in the area or your commute takes you down University Avenue. Overall I found it to be unremarkable but I think I've gotten snobbish and my standards are high. What can one expect for $2.23? My memory is that the sandwich board listed them at $2.25 but the web site says $2.23. Also, I may not have gotten their best effort. It was the afternoon of Christmas Eve and they probably wanted to get on with their holiday plans. I can't fault them for that. Anyway, if I ever get the chance for another sandwich there I'm getting the salami on an onion bagel and maybe throwing some mustard on there. Just a taste

*I knew a kid in high school who thought Judas Priest had an album called "Sandwich of Destiny". It's really "Sad Wings of Destiny". Sandwich of Destiny is more applicable to my life at this point, but I'll always have a soft spot for "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper", although I prefer the live versions. 

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #46 - Le Petite Croissant aka The Clock Is Ticking

Sandwich: Croissant Sandwich
Location: Le Petite Croissant
Date: December 12, 2015
Cost: $9

Le Petite Croissant is a tiny little spot tucked among some shops at the top of Midvale Boulevard. It's just a tee shot from the beltline but the thousands of cars whizzing past probably don't even know that it's there. It's in the same strip mall as an acupuncturist and a tae kwon do...dojo. Is a tae kwon do place called a dojo? That's awkward to say - tae kwan do dojo. Whatever. I'm only giving myself 30 minutes to write this review so the clock is ticking. It's ticking both literally (I have to write this review and go to work) and meta-literally (that's not a thing) (It's almost the end of 2015, The Year Of The Breakfast Sandwich, and I still have six more reviews to do or my contract gets voided and I have to start eating pancakes exclusively. Gross.)

Anyway, probably not a lot of people know that Le Petite Croissant is there. Or maybe they do - I was the only person in the place on an early Saturday morning but several folks came in for baked goods to go, so I'm guessing the pastries are tasty.
It doesn't list it but the sandwich comes with greens.

I was sitting by the window and had some nice natural light and probably could have taken a better photo.

That's the heart and soul of the sandwich.
The Sandwich - Croissant Sandwich. No options, no choices. Egg, bacon, cheddar cheese on a croissant. It's a solid sandwich. The croissant was nice and flaky, the bacon cooked well and the egg done as expected, which is to say, not goopy. The cheese could have been a little more melty for this reporter. It's also a fairly hearty sandwich. The crab shaped croissant plays tricks on your eyes, but it's got a little heft to it. I like mixed greens with a breakfast sandwich and these had a light coating of slightly sweet vinaigrette.

I'm running out of time here. I ran out of words to describe cooked eggs about 4 months ago. By the way, this shit takes a long time to write, at least for me. You read real food reviews and you think those people are just lounging around eating free scallops, and I suppose they are, but there is actual work involved. It's better than digging ditches, for sure, but it's not all champagne and caviar, probably.

The Result - 3.84 Clocks our of 5 Clocks. Le Petite Croissant serves up a solid, no frills breakfast sandwich. Depending on your expectations and desires this sandwich has what it takes to get you through your morning, or your acupuncture appointment. Is acupuncture one of those things that you have to wait 30 minutes after eating before you can do it? I wouldn't eat this before a rigorous game of tae kwon do, I can tell you that.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #45 - Gooseberry On The Square aka Man, I'm Getting Down To The Wire

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Gooseberry On The Square
Date: December 10, 2015
Cost: $6.50

Gooseberry opened in the U.S. Bank Building earlier this year. I was going to go there right when they opened but I looked it up on a Saturday morning and they are not open on weekends. Given that they are located on the square, within a large bank/office complex, it makes sense that they are only open on weekdays. I can't remember what occupied the space prior to them, I believe Sunprint was in that location at some point but I feel like there was another tenant as well. (I'm not going to do any research on it. I'm running out of time to hit 52 sandwiches in 2015 and one of my big obstacles is finding the time to write these reviews. I ate this sandwich 9 days ago and I'm finally sitting down to write this so I'm just going to keep it simple from here on out. There isn't going to be much research in these late reviews and there probably won't be very many mildly interesting links.)

I has some business to conduct on a recent weekday morning so I made it a point to stop by Gooseberry. It's a large space with a cafeteria kind of a feel but it was quiet at 8:45 on a Thursday morning. The sandwich guy said this was typical after the early morning rush.

No surprises here

Marble rye!

The white collar workers trusty AM sidekick.
The Sandwich - Breakfast Sandwich on rye. The bread is really the only option you have to choose on this sandwich, but they offer rye, which is nice. It turns out it's a marbled rye and that's a fun surprise on Thursday morning. This isn't a fancy sandwich and I don't have a lot to say about it except that it was prepared very well - the eggs were a bit fluffy, the cheese melted perfectly and the bacon crisped as it should be. The marble rye was decent but perhaps could have used a little more butter and toasting. It held up on my trip from the Capitol Square to the far east side, so you know the construction was solid.

The Result - 3.92 White Collars out of 5 White Collars. A very fine sandwich, indeed! It's not really a destination sandwich but it was tasty and filling. I felt like it was a little bigger than your average breakfast sandwich and makes for an adequate breakfast if you work in the area. The perfect fuel to get you through those TPS Reports. In that regard it's exactly fulfilling it's role in downtown Madison. The price is right and this one was ready in a just a few minutes.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #44 - Rolling Pin Bake Shop aka Earl, Earl, Earl

Sandwich: The Duke of Earl (Sandwich that is)
Location: The Rolling Pin Bake Shop
Date: November 28, 2015
Cost: $7

I'd never heard of The Rolling Pin Bake Shop but I found myself spending time in Fitchburg and I kept driving past when they were closed. After a little internet research to confirm that they offer a breakfast sandwich I finally caught them open on a Saturday morning.

I guess I don't get to Fitchburg very often as it appears the Bake Shop has been there for at least eight years.

Once again I didn't take a picture of the menu so I stole the description from their web site:

"Duke of Earl (Sandwich that is)"

Two eggs, cheese, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage. Served on our authentic Challah roll, Russian white, Whole wheat, Rye or a herb and cheese biscuit - $6.75

Getting a little cheeky with the sandwich name - I like it! (I think the cost was $7 and they haven't updated the web site to reflect that yet.)

Apparently the Earls of Sandwich had no real connection to Sandwich, England but the town still has a pretty cool coat of arms and motto -"Post tot naufragia portum", which means "After so many shipwrecks a haven". That phrase could be loosely applied to my feelings after eating several fast food breakfast sandwiches before swearing off them for some time. I don't think this Earl or this Earl have any connection to Sandwich, England either but I'll bet Earl Campbell enjoys a nice sandwich.

Look at that light rye bread! That's some real nice stuff.
The Duke spillith over.
The Sandwich - The Duke of Earl with bacon and cheddar on rye bread. Although they offer just one breakfast sandwich you have your choice of cheese, meat and bread so there are some options. I like cheddar with egg and bacon and it's always a good day when you can get a sandwich on rye bread. In this case it was a light rye bread that I assume was baked on site. It was buttery, lightly toasted and did its job of keeping everything together. The mushrooms, onions and tomatoes seem a little odd for a sandwich, its almost like an omelette on bread, but the combo works and makes this a unique offering. The bacon was nicely crisped, the cheddar was melty and the egg was cooked to a fluffy patty. With the addition of the vegetables and the egg cooked past runny it could have used a little extra cheese or maybe some aioli. It wasn't dry but an additional layer of creamy flavor wouldn't have hurt it.

The Result - 4.32 Earls out of 5 Earls. The sandwich and the bakery itself were a pleasant surprise. I didn't even know the place existed and they came through with a damn fine sandwich. It's a different offering than most breakfast sandwiches but isn't trying to be too fancy or clever. I also got a Cowgirl Cookie which was fantastic. I will definitely stop next time I'm in the area so I can try other baked goods or maybe one of their lunch sandwiches. 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #43 - Oliver's Public House aka The Runner Up

Sandwich: Classic with lamb sausage & Swiss cheese.
Location: Oliver's Public House
Date: November 21, 2015
Cost: $16 w/ petite salad

Oliver's Public House is in the new building right by Lombardino's. I've found myself saying that every time I mention Oliver's since nobody I know seems to know where it is. That's followed by them saying "Ohhhhh yeah, how was it?" These are reasonable questions. If they don't know where it is it stands to reason that they haven't been there to try it.

This visit met two of criteria that I'm trying to adhere to these days: #A - not eating crummy fast food sandwiches. #B - reviewing places not on the east side. These are easy points to meet as I've reviewed most of the fast food places (I can hear Denny's rustling out there in the darkness) AND many of the east side joints. Denny's isn't really fast food but you know what I mean.

My near west side readership is about to spike!

Even with that (not very) helpful finger I didn't realize the lamb breakfast sausage added $5 to the sandwich.

This is the best photo of an egg I have ever taken.

That's the lamb sausage, right there. 
The Sandwich - The Classic, with lamb sausage and Swiss cheese. Comes with egg sunny side up. I was just about to order the bacon and then I realized I had to get the lamb sausage. I asked the friendly bartender about it and he said it is "the bomb" so I knew that was the right choice. He recommended the Swiss cheese on it as well, which makes sense. I chose the petite greens and breakfast potatoes as sides. I think the potatoes were an add-on, not part of the normal order. Also worth noting is that I ordered a bloody mary, which I've only done on a couple of these reviews. Apparently there had been a recent bloody mary competition in which Oliver's came in 2nd place. This was clearly upsetting to the bartender, as well it should be. Later when another bartender came over he also mentioned the 2nd place finish when he saw me drinking the bloody. It must have been fresh on their minds. I'm hoping they win next year so they don't have to call in Oliver's Army to stage a bloody (mary) coup. Bloody mary might be the drink most open to interpretation and subjective opinion so I'll just say that it was fantastic and came with a big chunk of Landjäger sausage in it.

The Result - 4.315 Silver Medals out of 5 Silver Medals. The lamb sausage really was a tasty and unique offering and I appreciated the runny egg. Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of this sandwich quest is how many places do not offer choices on how the egg is cooked. Runny eggs are more uncommon than you think and you should be thankful whenever they are offered. The bun was soft but kept everything orderly and the Swiss cheese was a good pairing for the lamb sausage. The garlic aioli was lurking in there but I think tzatziki sauce would have been better - almost like a Greek omelette on a bun. OK, so that was a damn good sandwich but, if I read the photo of my menu correctly, it's a $16 sandwich with a side. I didn't look over the check carefully (or, at all, to be honest) so I can't verify that, but I think it's correct. It's a little pricey.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #42 - Subway aka Purely Research

Sandwich: Bacon, Egg & Cheese
Location: Subway (East Washington Ave & Hwy 51)
Date: November 13, 2015
Cost: $3.50

Several weeks ago I told myself I was done reviewing fast food or chain restaurant sandwiches. It's a waste of time, money and calories and we're surrounded by delicious options here in Madison, so why bother? That's what I told myself.

But, every morning during my short commute I scan the radio dial and generally end up listening to some sports talk radio. Although my drive is only about 10 minutes, I almost always hear a commercial for Subway breakfast sandwiches. It's like they're taunting me. Daring me. Teasing me. How bad can they be? A better question might be, how good can they be? These are the types of questions that lead to this endeavor, and after all, this isn't about my desires, it's science.

I chose the Subway that I drive past every day even though a coworker once claimed it to be the "worst Subway in Madison". I don't know how she came to that conclusion, but it is the same location where a different coworker was once referred to by another patron as "a little sexy bitch". True story.
Umm, there it is.

Teeming with lost potential.
The Sandwich - I went with the Bacon, Egg & Cheese as it seems like a staple and they didn't have another interesting option that I wanted to try. They have one with steak but Subway steak sounds like a recipe for disappointment, at best. The flat bread you see in the photos is the standard breakfast sandwich option but you can opt for any of their regular breads if you prefer. The next choice is egg whites or yellow. All of this is already cooked, they just put it in the magic box thing to warm it up. After that you have the choice of all their regular vegetable toppings and dressings. I wanted to add something, but didn't want to bury the cornerstone ingredients. I went with pepper rings, a light squirt of chipotle dressing and a dash of black pepper.

The Result - 2.98 regrets out of of 5 regrets. I probably should have trusted my instincts and either skipped this review entirely or at least loaded up the sandwich with red onion and spinach and maybe red peppers. As it was, it was just bland. The flat bread could have used a little more toasting, the bacon was paper thin and didn't seems to bring any flavor to the sandwich. How does that happen? I'm sure it's cooked in a massive kitchen fortress in another state and then loaded on a truck and somewhere along the line the flavor falls off and nobody is the wiser until some poor sucker orders a sandwich. The pepper rings and the bread were the predominant flavors. I have to take responsibility for passing on the other ingredients but we all know a great breakfast sandwich can hold it's own with just the basics. This wasn't bad but it wasn't good either. It just, was.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #41 - Cafe Hollander aka West Side (Sandwich) Story

Sandwich: Pretzel Breakfast Sammy
Location: Cafe Hollander
Date: October 30, 2015
Cost: $10.95, with Hollander potatoes

A few people have pointed out to me that my reviews are focused on the East side which makes sense because that's where I live. West side locations haven't intentionally been neglected but that's how it has shaken out thus far.

I have been spending more time on the West side recently and had heard that Cafe Hollander was open in the Hilldale Mall. A quick perusal of the menu confirmed my suspicion that they would have a breakfast sandwich so I made plans to visit. Coincidentally, right after making my plans I received a note from a friend who had recently had a breakfast sandwich at one of their Milwaukee locations and raved about it. Sometimes the toppings align that way and you just have to roll with it.

Since the place is new I'll mention that the space itself looks great and is huge. It has an upstairs and the ground floor is broken up so everything isn't all in one area. I found it to be a very comfortable room to walk into and they sat me in an area with lots of late morning natural light.

The Pretzel Sandwich caught my eye on the web site and was my reason for making the stop.

You can't tell from the photo but that is an oversize plate.

A river of hollandaise runs through it.
The Sandwich - Pretzel Breakfast Sammy. Did you look at the menu description of this sandwich yet? It sounds crazy, yes? It is crazy. It's fitting that I ordered this the day before Halloween because this sandwich is a MONSTER. When it came out the waiter offered some Cholula Hot Sauce, which I accepted, although I'm not sure it needed anything else added, in fact, it needed less. My first thought was that there was just too much hollandaise for my taste. In addition to the hollandaise there is the herb garlic cheese AND the Muenster. Things got overly sloppy right out of the gate. I put the pretzel roll top on and tried to pick it up for a bite. That just wasn't going to work. There was still a significant amount of hollandaise covered egg hanging out, and when I took a bite the ham started to make a break for it out the other side. Right then I knew I'd just have to eat it with a fork. I had the distinct feeling that this wasn't a health conscious meal. The bacon and Muenster kind of got lost in the sauce and the hollandaise and the ham essentially took over. The pretzel roll never stood a chance.

The Result - 3.65 Rivers of Hollandaise out of 5 Rivers of Hollandaise. I had such high expectations but was put off by the amount of hollandaise and general sloppiness of the sandwich. I'm sure personal preference was a big part of it and your relationship with hollandaise would certainly come into play here. I'm not even sure it needs it, I might have preferred this with just the Muenster and herb garlic cheese. Looking at the menu now the Belt & A sandwich might have been a better choice for me and my arteries. I know I'll go back to try one of the seven (SEVEN!) bloody mary options and the Belt & A may get a later review. I think I just made a bad choice that day and I look forward to going back for a fresh take. I should also mention that the breakfast potatoes were the perfect amount of crispy. 

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #40 - Gotham Bagels aka Just A Sandwich Review

Sandwich: Heritage Ham, Smoked Gouda & Egg on Rye Bread
Location: Gotham Bagels
Date: October 17, 2015
Cost: $6

I usually only stop at Gotham Bagels if I'm already headed to the Farmer's Market and even then I don't always have time. I have had their sandwiches but I'm almost positive I had not tried a breakfast sandwich. The Saturday morning I went happened to be the day of a home football game, Homecoming Weekend specifically, so the place was a sea of Badger gear. Still, there were a few seats open, the line moved quickly and it looked like all the folks standing around were just waiting for food to go.

Note that the menu in my photo differs from the menu on their web site.

That Spicy Italian Sausage almost had me but I was enticed by the smoked gouda.

Have you ever felt like you made the right choice?

I had to document what was under the hood.
The Sandwich - Heritage Ham, Smoked Gouda & Egg on Rye with a side of stone ground mustard. When I ordered the sandwich the cashier said, "good choice, I eat that a lot". I asked if she ordered it on rye, which she does, and then she recommended mustard. I'm a mustard guy so I took it on the side. This is a beautiful sandwich - as I walked back to my stool after picking it up a woman I passed remarked "that looks awesome". I'm pretty sure she was talking about my sandwich. I put just the thinnest sheen of mustard on the bread and was glad I held back. Much more than that might have overpowered the flavors here although that may just be my personal taste. The ham is salty and sweet and sliced melt-in-your-mouth thin. The smokey gouda flavor comes though and really works with the ham. The chicken egg could have been a little gooey but I'm not complaining. Rye bread. You don't get a lot of breakfast sandwiches on rye and it's a refreshing change. I was thinking that I should get it on a bagel if only as a matter of principal but bagels are not the ideal sandwich delivery system and I'm glad I squashed that inner voice. That unassuming hole in the middle of a bagel can cause serious problems. As mentioned, the tiny bit of stone ground mustard went a long way and I'm glad I ordered it on the side. Most sandwich makers are heavy handed with the condiments and I feel that it's one of the more pressing issues facing society today. I couldn't take that risk.

The Result - 4.58 Not Bagel Sandwiches out of 5 Not Bagel Sandwiches. I don't know what else I can say about it, it was a great sandwich. Their other offerings are tempting and there is no doubt I'll go back to try the Spicy Italian Sausage option. The rating was bolstered a bit by the absolutely perfect autumn morning and the cashier's helpful suggestion. These things matter. If a great sandwich can alter the outlook of your day then the inverse must be true too. I can't show my work proving that point but I'm going with it.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Diversions - Some Canadian Guy Named Ken Eats A Burger King Double CROISSAN'WICH™ with Sausage & Bacon

Better him than me. I'd never seen any of his reviews and stumbled on to this one when I wanted to find out where the term Croissan'wich came from. This guy really likes fast food.

If you want to skip all the nonsense just jump to 4:20 in the video, that's when the sandwich comes out.

Spoiler alert - his Burger King breakfast experience was way better than mine was.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #39 - Rosie's Coffee Bar and Bakery aka B-B-B-B-Biscuit

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Rosie's Coffee Bar and Bakery
Date: October 3, 2015
Cost: $3.99

Rosie's is relatively new to the Monona area (it's technically in Madison) and I had stopped in for doughnuts and pour over coffee, but never had a sandwich there. Monona doesn't have a lot of options for breakfast, Crema Cafe is just down the road from Rosie's (and is also technically in Madison) so while the options are few, there are quality sandwiches to be had. As far as Monona proper, there is that Denny's* down on Broadway that has been there forever. They have The Waypoint Public House now and I'll probably review their breakfast sandwich, it screams of potential. Oh, I guess there is also the Green Forest Family Restaurant. There are probably a few more options but I'm not going to dig into them now. Maybe Antler's serves breakfast?

I didn't take a photo of the menu but the info is listed somewhat incompletely on their web site:

Breakfast sandwich made with choice of biscuits or croissant, $3.99. At the restaurant you are given the choice of bacon, sausage or ham.

Compared to my usual crappy photos this one looks pretty good. The sausage patty is a little wonky but that didn't bother me. 

That's a nice looking biscuit.
The Sandwich - Sausage on Biscuit. I had to go with the sausage after indulging in BLT sandwiches and the leftover bacon earlier in the week. I was also in a biscuity mood and think it makes for a better sandwich than a croissant anyway. These turned out to be wise choices as the biscuit was light and buttery and kept everything in place. What is it about a great biscuit that sets it apart from the other breads? Some kind of alchemy or something. I was happy with the sausage choice upon first bite. It wasn't too salty which is always my concern when ordering sausage and it paired perfectly with the biscuit. The egg and cheese were wonderful but insert my usual comment about preferring a runny egg. 

The Result - 4.31 places that aren't really in Monona out of 5 places that aren't really in Monona. This was a mighty fine sandwich indeed. Simple and basic but fresh and tasty. It was a pleasure to get acquainted with this sandwich and the price is right too. Early on a Saturday the space is relaxing and the coffee is fantastic. 

*However you feel about Denny's their online menu is pretty slick. The have a "Randomize" button and you can select options you want such as "sandwiches" that contain "egg" and it pulls up the items that are available.  

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #38 - Avenue Club aka The Debutante Sandwich

Sandwich: B.E.L.T. Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Avenue Club and the Bubble Up Bar
Date: September 19, 2015
Cost: $10 served with choice of mixed greens or breakfast potatoes.

Everybody in Madison already knows the Avenue Bar was recently closed for remodeling and retooling and is now known as Avenue Club and the Bubble Up Bar. It almost sounds like the title of a Hardy Boys book or Scooby Doo episode - The Avenue Gang Solves The Case Of The Bubble Up Bar. Maybe not. Most likely everybody will still call it "The Avenue" and I would be skeptical of anybody that refers to it as the Avenue Club, or worse, the Bubble Up Bar.

They have reopened and Saturday was their first day serving brunch. This gave me the opportunity to get the very first breakfast sandwich served from the kitchen. I arrived exactly at 8:00 and there was already a group of four seated and at least one other person who had arrived just before me. As far as restaurants go it's a fairly large space and I ended up sitting in at the Bubble Up Bar, so I don't know if I actually was the first person to order the breakfast sandwich. I'm somewhat confident the four top didn't order the breakfast sandwich - they were older folks and that generation remembers a time when breakfast sandwiches didn't exist AND THEY LIKED IT THAT WAY.

Or did they? In Breakfast: A History, Heather Arndt Anderson references a cookbook from 1897 by Maud C. Cooke that contains a breakfast sandwich recipe. The book has the delightful title of Breakfast, Dinner And Supper, Or What To Eat And How To Prepare It: Containing All The Latest Approved Recipes ... Including Hygienic And Scientific Cooking, Rules For Dinner Giving... They sure knew how to name books back then. I have to admit I haven't read either of these books but after learning more about Maud I think I'd like to have a sandwich with her.

Maud also published a book titled Social Life, or, The Manners and Customs of Polite Society which contains this gem regarding courting - "The charming and fascinating power of serpents over birds is as nothing compared with that a woman can wield over a man, and he over her." Maud - your insight cuts to the bone!

In reference to musical entertainment at a soiree or lawn party, there is this advice which seems to reveal that there have always been blowhards who will ruin a concert with their yammering:

"When any one is playing or singing, let the company preserve silence, and if they should converse, let it be in the lowest tones. To interrupt a performer is the worst possible taste. Instrumental performers have as much right to expect the courtesy of silence as vocalists. The hostess has the privilege of indicating, to a noisy group, by a gesture, her desire for silence. Those who will talk should at least withdraw from the immediate vicinity of the instrument. If asked to play an accompaniment, do so, not to display your own accomplishments, but so as to afford the best possible support for the singer."

So, anyway, I don't think the old people ordered the breakfast sandwich. I'm going to assume that I was the first person to do so. When the debut breakfast sandwich came out of the kitchen there was no fanfare, the staff didn't crowd around and clap or sing a song about sandwiches. Its almost like they didn't realize the gravity of the situation. Perhaps they were indifferent, which would be sad.

The Avenue offers two breakfast sandwiches:

B.E.L.T. Breakfast Sandwich
Fried egg, crisp bacon, mixed greens, tomato, and Widmer's brick cheese spread on a grilled sourdough roll, served with your choice of mixed greens or breakfast potatoes.

Egg and Avocado
A toasted English muffin, chunky avocado, sunny side up egg, and grilled tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar-honey reduction.

It has one of those club sandwich decorative toothpick thingys! 

Layers, revealed.
The Sandwich - I went with the B.E.L.T. with the side of mixed greens. The avocado sandwich sounded good as well but that will have to wait until a later visit. The chicken egg is fried, as advertised, and I would have preferred it over-medium or runny in some capacity. The mixed greens listed in the description were replaced with romaine lettuce. I don't know if they did this because I ordered the mixed greens on the side but I was fine with the romaine - it gave the sandwich a whiff of a healthy crunch. Brick cheese isn't offered on many breakfast sandwiches and I found that to be refreshing. I felt like there was a little extra layer of something creamy on here, maybe some mayo? Maybe it was just the cheese. The tomato was fine, the bacon was fine, the roll was fine although it didn't really seem grilled. The best way to describe this sandwich may be to say that it was perfectly OK. Not bad. Not great. Just good. I think its biggest flaw is it is served on a hearty roll and yet the contents don't require it. This sandwich could be twice as sloppy as it already is and it wouldn't be too much to handle. 

The mixed greens on the side were tossed with radish and red onion. It seems that all breakfast greens are served with a tangy dressing and these were no exception. They were slightly overdressed for my tastes, but not soggy, and they were delicious. 

The Result - 3.03 Maud C. Cooke's out of 5 Maud C. Cooke's? What rating is perfectly middle of the pack? Mathematically speaking, on a scale of 1-5, I suppose 2.5 would be perfectly average. That feels too low though and I'm not going to go back through the previous reviews to see how this should slot in, but 3.03 sounds about right.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #37 - Einstein Bagels aka It Doesn't Take A Genius

Sandwich: Applewood Bacon & Cheddar on a Green Chile Bagel
Location: Einstein Bros. Bagels (East Washington Ave.)
Date: September 11, 2015
Cost: $4.50*

Einstein Bros Bagels is another chain restaurant that's been around Madison for years. I have no idea how they came to be named Einstein but it doesn't appear to have anything to do with that smart fella Albert. Occasionally a coworker brings some of their bagels and coffee into the office but that's about the extent of my interaction with them. I have a vague recollection of stopping at one in Indiana and getting a breakfast sandwich to fuel a Sunday morning drive home, but that was several years ago.

The point is, I knew they had breakfast sandwiches but I wasn't sure I had tried one. With a busy weekend in front of me I stopped in on a Friday morning so I could keep up with the sandwich calendar. Back in May I was ahead of schedule on researching 52 breakfast sandwiches but it's tough to keep up during the summer and now I am exactly on track - if I skip a week I'll be behind schedule. You have no idea how stressful this is. (It really isn't but it does cause me to question my level of dedication.) At a time when science seems to be an afterthought, particularly in Wisconsin, I feel the least I can do is to stick with my research although grant money for the Sandwich Sciences has all but dried up. It's literally crumbs at this point.

I didn't take a photo of the menu but they have several options of egg sandwich available.

It was immediately apparent that ordering this sandwich on the Green Chile bagel was a mistake.

It looks even worse from this angle
The Sandwich - Applewood Bacon & Cheddar on a Green Chile Bagel. You get your choice of bagel and I saw the little sign for Green Chili and it sounded intriguing so I made the choice. The initial order was for an Onion bagel and then I changed it. I don't how the green chili bagels come to be, but I assumed they would have some chilis cooked into the dough and that would be it. When I unwrapped the sandwich at work it looked like they had dumped a can of roasted green chilis on the top. Or, maybe it had been dropped back behind the counter where nobody ever cleans. Or, maybe something worse.

You can see that it wasn't particularly brimming with bacon or cheese, but the egg looked alright. I don't know how much one can expect of a sandwich at a place like this. The whole thing seems to be cooked in microwaves. I should have paid closer attention but I didn't realize I was in a downward sandwich spiral. Speaking of downward spirals, there is a restaurant in Atlanta called The Vortex that looks promising.

Wait a second, I'm not done complaining about the bagel. The biggest problem with the green chili bagel is the texture. Not the bagel part, the chili part. If you've ever roasted chilis you know how they feel in your hands - slimy. That's how they feel in your mouth as well. Slimy is not a descriptor you want for your sandwich at 8:30 in the morning.

The Result - 2.95 Alberts out of 5 Alberts. Albert Einstein probably wouldn't have been as impulsive as myself and may have looked over the complete selection of bagels before making his choice. That would have been the smart thing to do. I have to accept some responsibility for ordering this sandwich the way that I did, but, I can only review the sandwich as it was presented. Sliminess aside, the chilis had a nice heat to them, not overly spicy, but a good kick. They really ended up being the only distinct flavor of the sandwich. Bites from the edges that didn't have chilis were rather bland - no salty bacon flavor, no sharp cheddar - although the texture was much better. I'm not sure if eating this on an onion bagel would have changed much other than the texture.

*I think the sandwich was $4.50. It may have been $4.75. By the time I got home from work I had lost the receipt.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #36 - La Brioche aka In Search Of...

Sandwich: Croissant Sandwich
Location: La Brioche
Date: September 7, 2015
Cost: $10.75

I was up early on Labor Day and went In Search Of...Places That Serve Breakfast Sandwiches On Labor Day. My initial searches weren't turning up any conclusive answers.  It was just like the TV show but with far less conjecture and poorly done dramatic reenactment. Also without the Leonard Nimoy voiceover. Web sites aren't always updated to list holiday hours and some places only serve breakfast sandwiches on the weekend and Monday doesn't count even if it is a holiday weekend. It was soon apparent that the evidence available online at 6 am could only be deemed inconclusive and I would need to start making some phone calls when places opened.

La Brioche was open and I had been excited about trying the breakfast sandwich they list online - Pancetta, Organic Over-Easy Egg, Arugula, Tomato Aioli, Herb Aioli, Toasted Sourdough. Sourdough isn't offered with enough breakfast sandwiches and they're doubling up on the aioli! It sounds amazing - but it wasn't to be. That sandwich is on the Breakfast menu and they were only serving the Brunch menu on this day, which still has a breakfast sandwich, just not THAT breakfast sandwich.

I have to admit I was disappointed but I wasn't going to let it color my review.

The Croissant Sandwich features zero aiolis. 

Put some googly eyes on it and it might look like a croissant trying to eat an omelet in a single bite.

Bacon and cheddar wrapped up tight!
The Sandwich - Croissant, Scrambled Eggs, Cheddar, Nitrate-Free Bacon with Organic Spring Mix Salad. It may be hard to tell from the photos but when this sandwich comes out of the kitchen it's roughly the shape of and definitely the size of a child's football. Not a toddlers football, but a football that a Dad would buy an eight year old that is too big now but he hopes the kid will grow into. Which is to say, it's huge. They serve it with a serrated knife so you can portion it into manageable fractions.

This croissant isn't anything like the Madison Sourdough version - its bigger, a bit denser and less flaky. I didn't think it was as good, but the Madison Sourdough croissant wouldn't have held up to the innards of this sandwich, which are ample indeed. It is kind of like an omelet somewhat tucked in there. The chicken eggs were cooked well, and there was a copious amount of cheddar, although I wanted it meltier. The bacon is the real star of this sandwich. It's nitrate-free, so it's missing that succulent nitrate flavor, but its still fantastic. I'm joking about the nitrate flavor. The bacon was great - salty and crisp and everything you expect from excellent bacon. With strategically placed chomps it was possible to get all the flavors in a single bite.

The spring mix salad was refreshing and is always welcome. Several places offer this as a side and it's pretty much the same at all of them - crisp greens with a light coating of tangy dressing. 

The Result - 4.00 Leonard Nimoys out of 5.00 Leonard Nimoys. This is a really good sandwich. When I looked at the menu I thought it was a little pricey, but I didn't know how huge it was. I feel like I'm giving it bonus points for quantity, and I don't want to do that, but I think it's happening. I like the cheddar and bacon combo here, that counts for something too. Part of this rating is the whole experience as well - it was a quiet morning, I was the only person dining there and the setting was right for day three of a holiday weekend. I'm definitely going back to try the other breakfast sandwich but that might not happen until 2016.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Diversions - Pop-Tarts Breakfast Sandwich

I'd love to try this but I plan to never step foot in Disney World. I believe 4&20 Bakery (web site currently under renovation) makes a homemade Pop-Tart, and I know they make a righteous breakfast sandwich. Maybe they could be cajoled into making something like the Pop-Tarts Breakfast Sandwich

I don't get that blog - it appears to be Disney reviewing its own food offerings.

Still, I like the concept of the Pop-Tarts Breakfast Sandwich.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Breakfast (Not) Sandwich #35 - Bradbury's aka What In The Hell Is This Crepe?

Sandwich: Sausage + Kale + Sungold tomatoes + Corn + Muenster + a Fried Egg
Location: Bradbury's Coffee
Date: August 29, 2015
Cost: $8

A crepe is not a sandwich. There is no way to stretch the definition to pretend that a crepe is a sandwich. Over the past several weeks many have asked me what counts as a breakfast sandwich. Does a breakfast taco count? Yes, but I don't know if I'll get around to reviewing any. It occurred to me while I was writing this that some communities, such as Austin, Texas, probably have enough taco places that one could write a blog about tacos only. Sure enough, this Taco Journalism link looks pretty bad-ass, and Corpus Christie apparently has enough taco joints to spawn the Tacotopia blog. Check out that sweet Tacotopia logo. Finally, there is The Taco Trail, which also looks amazing. I don't have time right now to really check those blogs out, but I like what I've seen so far.

If a breakfast taco counts I suppose that means a breakfast burrito counts, but I'm not inclined to review one. It feels like one more step away from a "sandwich" because burritos are not usually eaten with your hands. Crepes aren't either. Side note - the A.M. Crunchwrap can be eaten with your hands.

I don't care, my publisher said I could review a crepe so I'm counting this towards the goal of 52 sandwiches. On a few occasions I've passed over more enticing menu items in order to stay focused on my research and this week I decided to go to one of my favorite breakfast spots, SANDWICHES BE DAMNED!

Bradbury's has been open since 2008 and it's been a favorite breakfast spot of mine for much of that time. Early on weekend mornings the vibe there is very quiet and relaxed. This day they had Fleetwood Mac playing which transitioned into ELO before my crepe arrived.

The menu changes depending on what's in season but I think the general rule is to have sweet and savory options on the menu at any given time. Currently, the menu features three items (and this description will have to do as I didn't take a photo of the menu board).

Ham + Smoked Gouda + Cracked Egg + Whole Grain Mustard
Sausage + Kale + Sungold tomatoes + Corn + Muenster + a Fried Egg
Heirloom Tomatoes + House Made Ricotta + Dill + Scrambled Eggs

Enticing equations.

Worthy of being painted on a chapel ceiling.
The (Non) Sandwich - Sausage + Kale + Sungold tomatoes + Corn + Muenster + a Fried Egg. I probably would have been happy with any of the options but the sausage sounded the most breakfasty of the choices and I've been into kale lately. Muenster and I go way back and corn sealed the deal. It's late August in Wisconsin, corn is always a good idea this time of year. Also, sungold tomatoes, another lock in late summer. The salty sausage mixed with the bitter kale and the crunchy, sweet corn, oooooh baby, that's tasty! All that is left to talk about are the chicken egg and the crepe-cake. Knowing the egg was fried was another bonus as I correctly surmised that it would be over easy or runny in some capacity. Bingo. I don't have anything smart to say about crepe pancakes (collective response - "No shit"), but it held everything together which is to say it did its job.

I'm not sure there is any value in my going on and on about how delicious this was, but it was excellent. All the pieces came together to create something more than the sum of their parts, and that's really saying something.

Still, it wasn't a sandwich.

The Result - 4.90 Blasphemies out of 5 Blasphemies. It's not a sandwich, it can't possibly score a 5.00. Not on my watch. Essentially this was docked .10  points because I couldn't pick it up and eat it with my hands. Under certain circumstances I probably would eat one of these with my hands.

This whole thing is about the sandwich and the experience. Are you in the correct place to receive the sandwich? Have you had a "Come To Cheesus" moment with your sandwich? This was one of those days. I found what I wanted at the Farmer's Market in less than 10 minutes and went straight down the hill to Bradbury's for (non) sandwich enlightenment. By 8:00 am my day was a complete success. 

The Kenyan pour over coffee was also amazing.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Isthmus Annual Manual - Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches

The Isthmus Annual Manual is out and this year readers were able to vote for their favorite breakfast sandwich. I'm not sure if that was an option in the past, it seems the new ownership changed up the categories, but I've not paid close attention so perhaps this was always an entry. I'm not going to look it up because I don't care all that much.

Since the top three sandwiches are all places I have reviewed I thought I'd do a little comparison.

Annual Manual Rankings
1. Marigold Kitchen's Breakfast Sandwich
2. Short Stack Eatery's B'Wich
3. 4 & 20 Bakery & Cafe's #1

52 Sandwiches Ranking (Score)
1. 4 & 20 Bakery & Cafe (4.50)
2. Short Stack Eatery (4.44)
3. Marigold Kitchen (4.03)

All fine sandwiches, to be sure, but I had them ranked in reverse order compared to Isthmus readers. Click on the restaurant name for the full review if you want to know how they scored the way they did. To be clear, these are not my top three sandwiches overall, I'm only listing them in comparison to the Annual Manual rankings.

It's also worth noting that the World's Greatest Sandwich from Mickey's won first place in the "Sandwich" category. It has a chicken egg on it and could be classified as a breakfast sandwich but I have not yet reviewed it. It's on the list.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #34 - Stalzy's Deli aka Unleash The Beastie

Sandwich: The Brooklyn Breakfast
Location: Stalzy's Deli
Date: August 22, 2015
Cost: $8

I've been to Stalzy's Deli for their annual Oktoberfest party and I've had their rueben, but I'd never actually been inside the building until Saturday morning. It was a the perfect morning for a bike ride but I wanted to avoid the Farmer's Market crowd so anywhere near the Capital was off the agenda. Stalzy's has been on the list since the beginning and The Brooklyn came with a recommendation. Decision made.

I didn't know what The Brooklyn was until I saw the menu but I knew it was my kind of sandwich right away. Swiss cheese and rye bread, always good.

This is the second week in a row that I've linked to a Beastie Boys video and I'm not even that big of a fan. I did notice that in that link to the photo of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, Sandy Koufax (3rd from left in middle row) looks kind of like Ad Rock from The Beastie Boys. Roy Campanella (front row, far right) looks less than amused about posing for a team photo. But my favorite guy in the photo is the Custodian (far left, middle row) - he looks like he probably walked around the clubhouse smoking cigars and yelling at players to pick up their socks.
The classic Breakfast Sandwich would probably be great for comparison but I had to try The Brooklyn.

Screaming of potential.

At the halfway point it still looks rather enticing.

The Sandwich - The Brooklyn Breakfast - pastrami, swiss, fried egg, brown mustard on rye bread. This is a beautiful sandwich and a refreshing change from the standard breakfast sandwich. As much as I love the classic it's always a good idea to veer from the path every now and again if for no other reason than to adjust the palate of expectation.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fried egg was served somewhat runny. I was overdue for a runny egg. I'm not keeping track but it feels like its been about 5 sandwiches since I've had a gooey egg and that is borderline unacceptable.

You can see from the photo that when this sandwich comes out of the kitchen it's a beautiful beast. A nice pile of meat, gooey egg, toasty rye bread. Hell yes. Initial bites confirmed that the crunchy rye bread, egg, etc., they all blend together wonderfully. I would have liked more cheese but I say that a lot. I like to see that cheese creeping out from the under the bread. Here's my hangup with this sandwich - I find Stalzy's meat to be too salty and this sandwich is no exception. I had tried their rueben on previous occasions and I felt that way then as well. I have shared this opinion with friends and they don't agree so I guess it's just me. So be it ("ita fiat, esto", in Latin, if Google Translate is to be believed).

The Result - I give it a solid 3.99 No More Beastie Boy Video Links out of 5 No More Beastie Boy Video Links. This is a great sandwich but the pastrami is the integral part and it's too salty for my palate. If it were less salty and had a bit more Swiss cheese it would probably be in the mid 4's, it's that good. I'd like more breakfast sandwiches to be served on rye bread. I may make it back to try the classic breakfast sandwich at some point.

I'm starting to wonder if a sandwich can hit a perfect 5. I may have chewed myself into a corner with my other ratings and at this point a 5 rating is going to be rather controversial.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #33 - Madison Sourdough Co. aka WWJD (What Would Jerry [Lewis] Do?)

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich w/Bacon
Location: Madison Sourdough Co.
Date: August 13, 2015
Cost: $11 with side salad. Sandwich is $8 with side salad if you don't get the ham or bacon.

I feel like Madison Sourdough has been around forever but I still think of their current Williamson Street location as their "new" place although they've probably been there for 10 years. They used to have a different location, I think, but I can't remember where it was and I'm too lazy to research it right now. I have been to Madison Sourdough in the past but never for a sandwich. There's no reason for that, it's just that way. At any rate, they have been on the breakfast sandwich list for some time and it was a perfect morning to bike over there to see what they can do.
For once my photos looks decent. They have a lot of natural light in there, that must be why.

This is where my sandwich takes a little turn on the catwalk.

If I had cleaned up those crumbs this would have been another good photo. And if that shadow wasn't covering the cut side. Alright, never mind, I'm looking for cheese in this one and I'm not really seeing it but look at those flaky scales on the croissant!

The Sandwich - toasted croissant, egg, aioli, cheddar, and bacon with the other choice being ham (or neither). I didn't hesitate to add the bacon. When this sandwich came out of the kitchen it was a thing of beauty. The croissant was wonderfully flaky and light. I don't know much of anything about French baking but I assume this was right up there in terms of quality. The egg was fluffy and cooked perfectly and folded into the croissant. The aioli blended with everything and I wanted more cheese but that posed a conflict of sorts. If you've read several of these you know I'm looking for a somewhat runny egg and lots of cheese, but the croissant isn't built for that. It would be like giving a St. Bernard a bath with a tissue. As it was this sandwich was already as messy as it could be without becoming something you would have to eat with a fork which would be grounds for revoking its status as a sandwich (not definitionally, but practically speaking). Discussions of integrity and sloppiness aside, I did have one significant complaint about this sandwich and that was that the bacon was a little overdone. It wasn't burnt but it was a step beyond crispy, and I like my bacon crispy. I thought I would try to find a list of terms that breaks down the stages of cooked bacon to see what falls in between "crisp" and "burnt", but instead I found the "Baconcyclopedia", which looks like a fun read. Anyway, the bacon was a little too crisp, crumbly even, and turned into bacon bits when bitten, which sounds redundant but makes sense, I think. Not a terrible problem but worth considering. The side salad was fantastic. Fresh greens with the perfect amount of tangy dressing that had a little lemony zip to it.

The Result - 3.91 "Hey Lady" out of 5 "Hey Lady". I tried to find a clip of Jerry Lewis saying "Hey Lady" and failed, and this rating system is already specious at best. Grammatically speaking, it probably should read "Hey Ladies" but that's a Beastie Boys song and I didn't reference them in the review so that doesn't work. The smart thing to do would be to go back and rewrite this with a Beastie Boys reference but that isn't happening. Who cares? So, anyway, the sandwich was mighty fine but the bacon and cost lowered it's rating. I suspect the bacon isn't always overly crispy and some people probably prefer it that way. The croissant was so damn good I almost feel this should be rated in the low 4 area. I mean, seriously, that croissant made me want to Shake My Rump, it was that good. (Yes, that was a cheap way to get another Beastie song in here, which is YouTubes fault as it's playing in the background.) I feel that my personal preferences also dropped this rating a bit. Not everybody likes a lot of cheese and a goopy chicken egg.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #31 & #32 - Pinkus McBride vs. MacTaggart's aka Sandwich Smackdown!

Sandwich: Bacon, Cheddar, Egg with Boar's Head Jalapeño Pepper Sauce on English Muffin
Location: MacTaggart's Market
Date: July 26, 2015
Cost: $4.39

Sandwich: Bacon, Pepper Jack, Egg on English Muffin
Location: Pinkus McBride
Date: July 26, 2015
Cost: $3.99

Neither of these places were on my radar for sandwiches until very recently. They are both convenience-type stores aimed at the people who live and work in the area and can walk there. There isn't a lot of parking near either unless you luck out and find a spot on the street. That explains my ignorance towards their sandwich options and also the reason that I decided to pit them against each other in a Sandwich Smackdown.

Pinkus McBride and MacTaggart's Market are fairly close to each other and since it was a beautiful July morning I decided to bike to both so I could double down on a sandwich review. MacTaggart's is just off Langdon Street, tucked in among the fraternities and sororities of the UW. It would probably be a great place for a part time job while you're working on getting your pledge pin. Pinkus is a little more accessible, it's on East Johnson Street near James Madison Park. It is not known if James Madison or his Vice President, the not-very-funky-looking George Clinton, ever shopped there. It's entirely possible that the funky George Clinton has shopped there.

It probably isn't fair to call this comparison a Smackdown since the participants didn't know they were going into the ring. Still, it makes for a better story. Really, it's all about the story here, which is why I'd like to get Donald Trump to do a ride along sandwich review. I'm not sure how he feels about breakfast sandwiches but apparently meatloaf sandwiches are his favorite.

I was going to try to get the exact same sandwich at each location but I didn't know what options would be available and then decided it didn't matter. In the end, the two I ended up getting were very similar.

Lots of options on the MacTaggart's menu. I almost went for the Fiery Chipotle Gourmaise.

The Pinkus menu.

I call this piece Still Life With Sandwiches.

Pinkus on the left, MacTaggart's on the right.

Pinkus, still on the left. MacTaggart's, still on the right.
The Sandwich (#31, MacTaggart's) - Bacon, Cheddar, Egg with Boar's Head Jalapeño Pepper Sauce on English Muffin. The menu to custom build your own sandwich is impressive. I wanted to keep it basic/classic style so I would be able to match it at Pinkus, but I had to get the Jalapeño Sauce. I like a little hot sauce on my breakfast sandwich and it's rarely an option.

The Sandwich (#32, Pinkus McBride) - Bacon, Pepper Jack, Egg on English Muffin. The whiteboard menu at Pinkus isn't as impressive as the MacTaggart's checklist, but they do offer more than your standard options, such as "veggies". They seem like a relaxed operation, they'll probably put anything on there as long as they have it on hand. Go ahead and order a breakfast sandwich with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on it and see how it goes. I'm guessing you'll get it. 

If this were a blog on ESPN I would break down each of the sandwiches strengths and weaknesses, component by component, to arrive at my final ranking. I'm going to do that in a pathetic attempt to launch a career at ESPN, but, I will only work there if I never have to meet any of the on air talent. Whatever path my ESPN career takes, I will not attend the Holiday Party. I imagine that all of the television and radio hosts congregate in a corner and shout at each other for 3 hours while their spouses get hammered at the open bar. 

English Muffin - They were similar, and both very good, but the MacTaggart's was toasted a little bit more and had a nice light crunch to it. Slight edge to MacTaggart's.

Bacon - I think they were both Boar's Head brand. MacTaggart's definitely was. The deli case at Pinkus was heavy on Boar's Head products so I'm going to assume it was. The bacon on both sandwiches was nicely crisped and distributed adequately, but the MacTaggart's was just a bit crispier and looked leaner. Slight edge to MacTaggart's. 

Cheese - I went with cheddar at MacTaggart's for that extra little bit of cheese bite. At Pinkus I ordered pepper jack to give the sandwich a little heat. Both were melted properly but the Pinkus sandwich had just a bit more more on it. Slight edge to Pinkus.

Egg - Here is the biggest difference. Pinkus egg was fried, MacTaggart's was hard scrambled. I'm not sure that's the right term. It doesn't matter. By now everybody knows I like the chicken egg to be runny, but places that do grab and go sandwiches tend to not make them that way. It's either to save you the mess, or something about eating undercooked eggs. Both eggs were cooked well but neither were my ideal sandwich egg. Push. 

Intangibles - MacTaggart's was empty at 8:30 on Sunday morning and my sandwich was given extra attention - she even put a little sprinkle of black pepper on the egg after placing it on the muffin! The sandwich held up well although it was swung around in a bag while I biked to Pinkus. It was a thing of beauty when I unwrapped it at the park, I wish I had taken a better photo. The Pinkus sandwich was also made fresh although they had a few in the case ready to grab. It was a nice looking sandwich but didn't have the same eyeball appeal that the MacTaggart's did. Edge to MacTaggart's.

The Result (#31, MacTaggart's) - 4.18 pledge pins out of 5 pledge pins. This was a damn fine breakfast sandwich. The jalapeño sauce put it over the top though. It was a perfect complement of heat and flavor. I would have never guessed that you could get something like this out of a basement convenience store. I recommend getting there before the students return. 

The Result (#32, Pinkus McBride) - 3.95 not-funky-Vice-Presidents out of 5 not-funky-Vice-Presidents. This was also a fine sandwich but on this day it didn't measure up to the competition. Pinkus has the advantage of being near James Madison Park, which is an ideal place to eat a sandwich. 

MacTaggart's is the winner of Sandwich Bowl I. This is not a best of 7 series, it's winner take all. There is no trophy.

As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to apply at ESPN to put together Power Rankings of sausages available at all the Major League ballparks. (They've probably already on that).

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