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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