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Panclog #40: Original Cafe

Orating about Original Cafe
June 21st, 2018

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Lovely Lads and Lasses of the interwebz, Panclog is back with a special guest writer,Colby Leseberg! Original Café is owned by the founder of former panclog topic Jerry’s Café. Original Café rose like a phoenix from the ashes of FreeBirds Burritos.  Is it everything that a phoenix should be? Find out now on this episode of Buddies in Bruncheries getting Breakfast!

Location/Environment: Original Café is located in a strip mall at 119th street and Metcalf in Overland Park, KS.  It is next to a Budget Car Rental and a small tailor.  These 2 businesses take up a good amount of parking in front of Original Café.  There is a large parking lot to the north of the strip mall.  So don’t worry.  The décor of Original Café is what you’d call Freebirds chic. It looks like Original Café wanted to open as soon as possible.  We will see what they do with the space in upcoming visits. But panclog focuses on more than just décor.  Like..


Service:
Original Café runs with small service crew.  This can help by creating a connection between regular guests and the usual employees.  It can also be a hindrance if there is a rush or a complicated table.  (No, the Breakfast Buddies table is never needy.  We eat what we get and drink all the coffee.) The service was extremely lovely during this visit because the Sova Babies were in attendance. Did you know that servers tend to love talking to cute little babies?

Menu/Selection: The menu for Original Café is almost the exact menu of Jerry’s Café.  Here is the menu.  A nice feature is that you can order your food online and then pick it up when it is ready.  They have some nice variety in breakfast plates.  They also have catfish fry nights and frog leg days.  So that is cool if that is your thing.

Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs (Jared)

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Chicken Fried Steak! It. is. not. chicken!

Original Café is housed in the corpse of Freebirds.  I use the word corpse because Freebirds is absolutely still apart of this building.  I was a fan of freebirds.  When they first started arriving in Kansas City, I camped out at the Lee’s Summit location for their grand opening. I was one of the first 25 in the door and I received free burritos for a year.  Easy to say that I became a frequent visitor of Freebirds.  Although all of the Kansas City locations are now closed, I still have 10 free burritos that are not in my stomach.

This visit to Original Café featured the first Breakfast Buddies that included my twins.  Brent was ecstatic to hold a 7-month old while trying to eat some delicious food.  They were amazing.  I want you all to know that if you want special attention from your server, have a cute baby at your table. Better yet, have two.

Back to the meal, I took the dive and had the least breakfast food that is on the breakfast menu.  The only breakfast thing about this dish is the eggs. and the gravy. and the hash browns. and the fact that I had it for breakfast.  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t be breakfast shaming.  Breakfast is for all foods.  Breakfast is welcoming.  Breakfast is for everyone.

Chicken Fried Steak is a move. It is something that should not be messed around with by amateurs.  The steak must be tenderized to perfection. Then breaded and fried to perfection.  if perfection is not achieved, you get mush or worse, cardboard.  I may be exaggerating a small amount.  This chicken fried steak was grand.  It was seasoned with a heavy hand.  I enjoy a tasty piece of meat.  The downfall of the plate was the hash browns.  It may be my least favorite preparation of potato.  Over easy eggs provide some yolk-y goodness to help break down the crispiness of the hash browns. The meal also came with your choice of bread.  I chose biscuit, but it was pretty unnecessary due to the large size of the plate.

It is a joy to see how loyal people are to Jerry Naster. He opened Jerry’s Café. Sold it. Retired. Unretired to keep making breakfast for the hungry humans.

Coffee: $2.29
Chicken Fried Steak: $9.99

While deciding if you want to come have breakfast with me. Check out “Short Court Style” by Natalie Prass. It is a total banger.

Stuffed French Toast (Brenter)

There are few things in this world better than breakfast buddies. Eating the most important meal of the day with your intrepid cloggers is a truly transcendent experience. You will find it uplifting, encouraging and enabling of all your best qualities. It is in your own personal best interest to join us on these days.

On this occasion we were accompanied by a couple of additional friends. The first is a super accountant, real estate agent, and man who recommends buying Century Link stock because of the relatively high dividend payout they make. I recommended to him to buy Microsoft when it was around $50 a share. Microsoft is currently trading double that so it is pretty clear that I am better at picking stocks.

Our other breakfast buddy can make anything and everything out of wood. Not satisfied with that ability he has gone back to school to for finance. Should the economy ever get destroyed, the extended breakfast buddies community is more than prepared to handle it.

But what made the event that much sweeter is that we were joined by a couple of 7 month old, fraternal twins. Nothing makes an event better than playing with little ones. I had the joyous opportunity to hold and make faces at both of these happy children.

Conversation on this morning focused on new jobs, uncertain but exciting futures, and the potential for great, new experiences. I admire young people who are willing to make risky modifications to their lives for the potential of a greater future, and I admire every young man who sat at this table, because each one of them is doing it.

I actually got so lost in all the company that I forgot that I was supposed to panclog the establishment. And while I would prefer to regale you with tales of our friendship and conversation, we are here for the purposes of the clog. Specifically the Original Café in Overland Park, KS.

The Original Café took over a defunct Freebirds Burrito location a few months ago.  I must admit that this makes me happy, I am not a fan of Freebirds. I am more of a Chipotle man, even though I grow more bored of Chipotle week after week. You can tell that Freebirds was once in this location because the Original Café hasn’t taken down all of their decorations yet. This surprises me for some reason. I would assume any restaurant would want full control of their brand, but it seems that the Original Café is cool with it.

This is our third attempt at eating the Original Café and our second successful excursion to this establishment. It seems that the Original Café is closed on Mondays, which is an easy thing to forget (which foiled us on our second visit).

For the intrepid souls out there the restaurant does offer Frog Legs on certain days of the week. I have had frog legs once and I cannot say that I am a huge fan of the delicacy. That being said, I know of only one other eatery that offers leg of the frog on their menu and that is the elder sister restaurant of the Original Café.

The Original Café seems like your standard run of the mill kind of diner, and, quite frankly it is. The menu covers your standard breakfast and lunch type items with a home cooked flourish here or there. My guess is that the “Liver & Onions” menu item is just there for show. I am curious to know how many folks actually order it. I will give anyone $100 who can convince my spouse, the most wonderful woman in the world, to eat an entire plate of liver and onions.

As noted in the prior paragraph the breakfast menu covers your standard fare and so I elected sausage, eggs, hash browns, and toast. I like how restaurants try to make you feel good about your order by naming it something like “The Classic” in the menu. Yes, I do read Chaucer, Dante, and Shakespeare and I like to eat the plainest breakfast possible.

Before I get to my actual breakfast I do have to mention one of our truest of friends ordered a giant cinnamon roll for the table. The kindness of friends warms my heart, especially those that share sweet breakfast treats with me. The cinnamon roll is big – it is slightly smaller than a dinner plate. Its flavor is quite good, but not earth shattering. You can taste a little bit of doughy-ness in the cooked roll. However, the butter cinnamon mixture in the roll is well balanced, and the icing is made just right. I do not expect I would ever order one for myself, unless I was on some major downward spiral, but it is definitely worthy of splitting with a group of friends.

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Back to my breakfast. The Classic comes with two jumbo eggs cooked to order. I, big surprise, chose scrambled. The two eggs provided a large amount eggs on the plate. The eggs are light, fluffy, but not well seasoned. You will need to grab some salt and pepper to fully dress them out. The eggs are good, but not worthy of note. My favorite scrambled eggs still belong to Eggtc.

Speaking of eggs, I need to start branching out in how my eggs are cooked. I think the next step should be over hard. At the next breakfast buddies event, I hope my cohort remind me to try them cooked differently.

My particular order also included a couple of sausage patties. These particular patties came out as a couple of hockey pucks if you will. That may seem harsh, but I don’t think of it as a negative per se, it is just that the sausage was good and flavorful, but could have been much more flavorful.

A classic breakfast wouldn’t be complete without some carbs of course. At the Original Café, this includes a potato option and some toast. I love toast, with a small amount of real butter. While a jam or jelly option is nice, it is certainly not necessary.

I elected for hash browns in regard to the potato option. The Original Café does a terrific job getting both sides of a set of hash browns crispy, but the internal was not consistently soft throughout. This gave the impression of some potato bits not being completely cooked. When it comes to the preparation of hash browns it seems that most folks lean towards the idea of creating a potato pancake of sorts. Basically leaving a set of grated potatoes sitting on a griddle until one side browns then flipping the mess over to brown on the other side. I am more of a fan of consistently stirring the shredded potatoes throughout the cooking process so that each small piece gets evenly cooked with the rest and also includes some crispy browning. The Original Café goes for the potato pancake method, when they could reach for the stars with consistent movement and browning.

I like The Original Café. Their staff is super fun and friendly and I hope it lands in the regular breakfast rotation. Plus, on a random Tuesday, I would like to go toe to toe with someone over a cinnamon roll.

Special Guest Writer Colby!
French Toast, Bacon, Giant Cinnamon Roll (Split)

”Am I really just a narcissist/’Cause I wake up to a bowl of lobster bisque?” – Rick Ross

I feel it fitting to begin a review of a breakfast establishment with a rap lyric regarding breakfast.  Here we see Mr. Ross displaying a view of the most important meal of the day which diverges completely from my understanding of the same.  While a fan of lobster bisque, I find it best served at lunch or dinner and as an accompaniment to another form of protein, such as filet mignon.  I promise that will be the only such digression of this Panclog.

When I met the ‘Clog Crew (some of the most wholesome folks I have the privilege of knowing) at Jerry’s Original Café for breakfast it marked my first experience at the restaurant.  The ambience and décor call to mind the word “simple”, presenting Jerry’s immediately as a relaxed diner-style atmosphere.  You determine pretty quickly that this isn’t the place for your lobster eggs benedict.  It is, however, a place for a sensible morning meal.

From the outset our server was welcoming and diligent.  Our coffees stayed full and we were regularly checked upon.  The meal started with Jerry’s Giant Cinnamon Roll shared between the four ‘Cloggers.  It was giant indeed, enough that each of us could enjoy a good-sized chunk; eating the full cinnamon roll seemed to require a hero’s effort, and a hungry hero at that.  The amount of cinnamon flavor was just right for me and the icing did not overwhelm with sugar, cream cheese, or any of the other distractions that can make a cinnamon roll’s icing go astray.

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As for the main course, our food was served in a timely fashion.  I ordered the French Toast with a side of bacon.  The French Toast was truly unique in that it was made from challah bread, a favorite treat of mine.  The challah bread lends itself well to French Toast due to its perfect texture and the end product did not disappoint.  The bacon was cooked appropriately and very flavorful without an overwhelmingly salty cure.  I certainly felt full after the meal which is a must when ordering a griddled item with a side of breakfast meat.

 

The food was reasonably priced (about $10 for the French Toast and bacon, plus a couple bucks  for the coffee and $4 for the cinnamon roll – not bad for a tasty meal in southern Johnson County) and did not leave me feeling as though I’d been cheated.  As for ways to improve, it’s my opinion that Jerry’s serves standard diner coffee (not swill, but not particularly flavorful) as well as maple syrup that was likely ordered in bulk.  I also felt like the sun was annihilating me in the face and there were few lights on in the restaurant to boot – throw a few shades up, flip the switches, and you’re in business.

Overall: Original Café is worth a trip. If they change the décor, they could become a brunch destination in south Overland park.

Grade:
Brent: A-
Jared: B
Colby: B+

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #39: Ronnie’s Restaurant

 Writing with Rhythm about Ronnie’s
5/8/18 7:00 AM
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Panclog Pals! Have you missed us?  Well, miss us no longer.  If you read the title above you will see that this we review Ronnie’s Restaurant.  I hope you are all thinking, “Oh wow! I’ve been waiting for this Panclog since Ronnie’s opened!”  Ronnie’s and it’s sister (literal) restaurant Kate’s Kitchen are both ran by the parents of the Ronnie and Kate.  Ronnie’s Restaurant is located in Lenexa at 12812 W. 87th Street Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66215.  Ronnie’s opened in November of 2016. Check out their website to learn more of their story.

Location/Environment: Ronnie’s Restaurant is located within 3 minutes of I-35. This helps you get to a local bruncherie quicker, therefore the food will be in your mouth quicker! The environment is baseball themed.  There are many Norman Rockwell prints on the wall. Here is one of the more prominent pieces:Norm

You will also find a giant picture of the victory parade that celebrated the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, the greatest baseball team that has ever existed. Actually, Brent says they are tied with the Cincinnati Reds as the greatest baseball team ever.

The downside to the atmosphere that Ronnie’s is trying to present is that all these wonderful pictures get washed out by a bland set of wall paint. Many of the pictures lack a frame to provide contrast with the off white walls. If Ronnie’s could somehow up the contrast, the art and pictures on the walls would really pop and add texture to the environment. The atmosphere is pleasant, but not striking.


Service:
The staff at Ronnie’s is amazing. They do a wonderful job at making you feel a part of the family. Family comes across as one of the more important aspects of Ronnie’s Diner. COFFEE ON THE TABLE FOR THE WIN!

Wait for food: 8 minutes.

Menu/Selection: Simply reading through the menu drives that feeling home. Ronnie’s menu has several selections named for various family members, and, if you look at the back page, you will find a bit of history about Ronnie and his sister Kate. Actually Kate has her own place in Gladstone named Kate’s Kitchen. The menu is full of classic brunch items. They have varieties of all your favorite staples, be that benedicts, omelettes, or pancakes. Let’s dive into what we ordered:

The King waffle with a side of sausage (Jared)

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Baseball, Breakfast, and Buddies.

Ronnie’s has it all. Well once the buddies show up they do.  No nix that.  The servers at Ronnie’s treat you like a certified buddy.  How do you become certified in buddy-hood?  That is the question that many people have asked and only a few have answered.  The first few steps starts in early childhood.  Young buddies need to be mentored by a nice adult who own very fancy hats.  Then you have to take 15 weird magazine quizzes like this one. After that, just try being cool and maybe your buddy certificate will come in the mail.

Let’s get back to business. I decided to get The King waffle.  This consisted of a beautifully crafted waffle topped with bananas, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter.  The King is the perfect amount of overkill to either start your day or to keep your day going.  The peanut butter is more in sauce form than the sticky mess that you will get when you try to create this art at home. Syrup is unnecessary for The King.  Usually syrup is key to begin the breakdown of the stability of the waffle.  But I believe the peanut butter sauce was just enough to tame the waffle monster and make it easy to cut with only a fork.

I asked for sausage as a side to give me a savory/sweet balance during this meal.  The Snausage links were a good pairing.  They were thicker than your average sausage link. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times.  Coffee on the table is the X-factor to any great bruncherie.  I am a big fan of the coffee mugs that they use. They are unique to Ronnie’s.

Coffee: $2.15
The King: $6.35
Side of Sausage: $3.15

On to my unnecessary recommendation of what to listen to when thinking of breakfast.  I recently went through a deep dive of HelloGoodbye’s discography.  I want you to listen to (Everything is) Debatable.

Stuffed French Toast (Brenter)

The restaurant offers up a Norman Rockwell’esque type of atmosphere. They actually have several Rockwell prints on the walls.

Just as a brief aside, Norman Rockwell happens to be one of my favorite artists. Much of his work highlights an idealized version of Americana from various paintings featuring baseball, to classic schoolrooms, to children heading off to the fishing-hole. One of my favorites actually adorns the walls of Ronnie’s Restaurant:

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Rockwell also has the ability to convey a powerful image that subverts much of the culture that he lived in:

Normy

On this fair occasion I ordered the Stuffed French Toast. I was hoping for a fun family name for the dish but it was simply named “Stuffed French Toast”. Thinking about this unfortunate naming situation has provided me with a new life goal – to get Ronnie’s and Kate’s restaurants to name the menu item “Strange, short, fat, bald guy, who is overstuffed French Toast”.

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More often than not a stuffed French toast is loaded with sweet ingredients rather and savory. While I am a fan of sweet stuffing, especially a fresh, warm, cinnamon, apple compote, this one comes with a set of savory ingredients. Imagine a pleasant sausage and cheese omelet shoved between two slices of French toast, and you will know exactly what this dish is all about.

Just some quick comments about the stuffed French toast:

1. The sausage could have been a bit more flavorful and abundant. The sausage flavor didn’t detract from the dish, but it had an opportunity to transcend the shell it was encased in.

2. Eggs are eggs. While Eggtc. makes the best scrambled eggs in the KC area, everyone else delivers a consistent level of flavor here. As does Ronnie’s.

3. On this particular visit the cheese seemed to be weighted on one half of the dish. I suspect that this was just an oversight and that a more even distribution is the norm.

4. The stuffed French toast was served with a side of syrup, which I do not quite understand. If a restaurant is making a savory dish, they should up the savory side of the thing rather than offering a weak sweet sauce, like maple syrup.

Overall the stuffed French toast is eminently enjoyable. If you ever go to Ronnie’s establishment ordering this item would not be a mistake. If you order the stuffed French toast as the “Strange, short, fat, bald guy, who is overstuffed French toast” will instantly make you a champion. Costing you only $6.50 plus tax and tip.

So get out there and do it. I am a fan of Ronnie’s and I look forward to eventually making it to Kate’s, the sister restaurant.

Overall: Ronnie’s is a highlight in Kansas City’s bright brunch scene.  Check them out!

Grade:
Brent: 6.7 out of 7.4 forks
Jared: A

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #38: The Egg & I

 Drinking to the Dregs at The Egg & I
3/15/18 7:00 AM
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Your faithful Pancloggers recently corrected a major oversight in planning a Panclog adventure to “The Egg and I”. The Egg and I is a restaurant we visit somewhat frequently, and, to be honest, I am surprised we haven’t clogged this fair establishment yet. Well, that oversight gets corrected today.

The Egg & I is a nationwide chain that is within in the First Watch network.  There are two locations in the Kansas City area. Lee’s Summit and South Overland Park at 135th Street and 69 Highway. We visited the latter.

Location/Environment: The Egg & I location we visited is prime real estate. Right off the highway and next to a HOME DEPOT!  Nothing can be better. The environment was clean and understated.  There are no real accent pieces in the dining area.  Some may bring the word bland up when discussing the esthetic of this restaurant. Find a location near if you if you would like.

Service: Service at The Egg & I is above average compared to many other chain restaurants. Our server went out of her way to compare and contrast two menu items to ensure that our pancloggers get the correct menu option. Coffee pots were placed on the table.  If you have read any past Panclog entries, you would know this is an easy way into the panclog pal’s hearts.

Wait for food: 10 minutes

Menu/Selection: The menu is everything you have come to expect at chain brunch spots.  Many variety and plenty of options that are tailored to the growing health-conscious diners.  The Egg & I prides themselves with sections on the menu for “Healthy Side” and Gluten Free options.  Check out this menu on their website. Here is what the dudes chose:

Blueberry Lemon Pancake Breakfast (Brentles)

The restaurant is pleasant, quiet, and bland. The Egg and I seems to be attempting to find a balance between Perkins and First Watch. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this goal, but it does not leave one with an impactful experience in décor. However, there was one small detail that did catch my attention. Behind the cash register counter was a book set on display titled, “The Egg and I.” Any restaurant named after a book is certainly a positive element to me. Surprisingly this book was actually made into a movie in 1947.  I guess I am going to have to add this tome to my reading list.

On this fair morning I ordered one of their specials – a lemon curd, blueberry, wheat pancake. The special came with sausage and scrambled eggs. The sausage and eggs were satisfactory, but not special in any real way.

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The single pancake was quite large. If you refer to a prior Panclog, you will see that I prefer pancakes smaller in diameter and multiple in count. For whatever reason I find a stack of hotcakes more satisfying than a single one.

The presentation of the specialty pancake was nice, a few dollops of lemon curd arranged in a simple design on top and fresh blueberries scattered everywhere else. The downside to this is that it precludes the ability to spread a fresh coat of butter on the confection. The restaurant probably understood this as they did not serve any butter with the pancake. While the overall flavor of pancake was good, butter on a pancake is absolutely critical.

I did enjoy the tartness of the lemon curd. It did taste store-bought and processed, kind of like the filling of a cheap donut. This is not what I would hope for of course, but it was not terrible either. The pancake itself had a decent flavor although it was a bit dry given the lack of butter and the thickness of the lemon curd.

The Egg and I is a solid option for breakfast. As noted before, it is a restaurant on the semi-regular rotation for the breakfast buddies, unfortunately, the lemon blueberry pancake was not quite worth the visit. I would like to keep it on the regular rotation, but just not at the top of the list.

The Egg & I has potential, they just need to step up their game a little.

Breakfast Burrito (Jared)

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The Egg & I has been a Breakfast Buddies repeat destination since the beginning of time.  Brent and I visit this location with somewhat regularity.  It has somehow been forgotten about when it comes to the Panclog front.  I am certainly ecstatic that this has now been rectified. My mother lives near this location and therefore, we visit it whenever my mother chooses to fulfill my obsession with breakfast.

One of my favorite dining memories of The Egg & I was with one of my favorite comedians and a man I get to call friend.  His name is Jeremiah Watkins and I am here to introduce him to you.  He has a lovely podcast called Jeremiah Wonders. He also made up one of my favorite characters, Gustav. Give him a follow on twitter and support him with all of your laughs.

I chose the breakfast burrito due to the sad lack of its critique in Panclogs of the past.  I have been developing a good bit of taste for Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes since I visited Austin and the best darned breakfast tacos that I have had.  Read about it in an old edition of this fine internet publication.

I would say that this burrito does not hold a candle to those breakfast tacos.  The biggest gripe I have with the burrito is that it did not seem to be wrapped in a burrito fashion.  It seemed like it was cooked burrito innards that was tucked in for a night’s rest with a tortilla.  This does not change the taste of the meal. It only hurts the tortilla to innards ratio. After one fork tug the tortilla seems to slip and lose all resemblance of a burrito.

The sauces were a pork green chili and a standard salsa.  I had the choice of either. I asked for both and fished my wish.  The pork green chili sauce was the clear winner of the day. It had little bits of pulled pork floating in it.  Which I have a clear and hearty “Yes Please.” to say about that. More sauces should be meat forward.  Can you imagine BBQ with some sauce that also has meat in it? Game.Changer.

I enjoy this restaurant.  But I would not say it is in my top 5.  I wouldn’t say, “You have to try this place.” to anyone from out of town.

Overall: The Egg & I is a solid choice for breakfast, but it will not blow you away. A few small shifts around will bring The Egg & I into the next level of bruncheries.

Grade:
Brent: C+
Jared: C

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #37: Downtown Diner

 Dining at a Diner in a Downtown
2/26/18 7:00 AM
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Downtown Diner is right down the road from another Panclog spot, Mom’s Kitchen! Downtown Diner is located at 409 E Santa Fe St., Olathe, KS 66061. They are open Sun-Tues 6A-2:30P and all the other days 6A-9P. Downtown Diner does not have a website.

Location/Environment: Downtown Diner is right next to the Olathe courthouse.  Courthouses are almost always surrounded by a certain type of business. That business is bail bondsman.  Downtown Diner shares a parking lot with Shane’s Bail Bonds.  The environment is one of an old Chinese restaurant. The building once belonged to Ping’s Chinese Restaurant. The dining room is divided into 2 sections and a bar with seating area.

Service: Service at the restaurant was interesting although it was rather slow.  Our server spent a good portion of the morning chattering away with family in China over skype. It seems her mother or mother-in-law was facing surgery and she called to help provide some cheer and comfort. We hope everything turned out well for her family. The gregarious server did interact with us in a fun and open way throughout the morning. She even impelled Brent to sign up online at the DMV so that he would not have to wait too long once there.

Menu/Selection: Downtown Diner has a pretty standard diner menu.  They boast a menu with 16 different omelet varieties, 8 egg benedict varieties, and a burger called “Heart Stopper.” The heart stopper is 2 grilled cheese sandwiches as buns, double burger patties, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and of course bacon.  So i’d say they have a bit of variety, wouldn’t you? Let’s stop talking about what we didn’t get and dive in to what we did:

Banana Caramel French Toast (Jared!)

My panclog pals, I do not know if you know this about me, but I am a big big fan of disc golf. I have been playing regularly for 3ish years now.  I have a good pal at work, Matthew, who invited me to play randomly once and we have been playing at least once a week since. Rain, snow, or shine we get to playing sometime.  Why am I telling you about this lovely hobby of mine? It’s because if it weren’t for disc golf, I would not know about Downtown Diner. We were playing the Lakeside Hills course in Olathe and our coworker at the time, Karla,  said we should grab breakfast after the round.  She questioned if any of us had tried Downtown Diner. None of the group had. She said we have to go. I never object to breakfast. A Peanut Butter & Jelly French toast later and I knew there had to be a panclog review on this fine establishment.

Let’s chat about the toast from France.  I tend to not choose french toast over the other breakfast breads.  I think I would rank the hierarchy of breakfast breads as followed:     1. Pancakes. 2. French Toast. 3. Waffles

I think I shy away from French toast because I find pancakes more filling and I have been scorned by very egg-y toast before.  I must say the french toast in the picture below are quite delicious. I mean, just look at them.

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First I will say that this french toast did not need the bananas nor caramel to be some of the best french toast that I’ve ever had.  This toast does not seem to be cooked on a griddle or flat top. I may be wrong, but I believe they are shallow fried.  I’m sure that’s a thing. The banana and caramel did not enhance the meal above and beyond.  It was simply some nice fluff.  Next time I will not be choosing these add-ons.  I did not need any syrup for the french toast. The caramel and whipped cream added enough moisture to start that critical breaking down of the structure of the french toast.  Bacon is always a great pairing with a sweet breakfast treat. The crispy, peppery flavors of bacon reminds your mouth not to go all-in on the sugary goodness of the french toast.  Sometimes you just have to put your taste buds in their place.

I will absolutely be having a meal at Downtown Diner again.  I sure hope it is busier next visit.  This place deserves business.

I got coffee, bacon, and the caramel banana french toast with tip for $16.79.

I’d like to recommend you listen to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” It is just a beautiful upbeat song.  Plus it is a nice mystery. Why is Paul wanting to be called Al?  If you find out please let me know.

French Toast Platter (Brent)

Stepping into the Downtown Diner in Olathe, KS is quite a striking experience. The initial impression the establishment provides is one of a gritty, old, experienced diner. From the inside out you feel diner’s age as it permeates every aspect of the restaurant. I expected to see a couple truck drivers sitting at the counter swapping stories and lies about the road with a loud cook in the back slinging hash.

Upon closer inspection though, you notice the accouterments of a Chinese restaurant. The tables are stamped with various logograms that I assume are hanzi. The diner also displays other artistic elements of East Asian stylistic origin. This diner forces a fusion of cultures that is absolutely delightful. Common ground can be found between art, décor, and, most importantly, breakfast.

We entered the Downtown Diner to a space devoid of customers. This concerned me a little thinking that there is something that others know that I do not know about this place. Sitting there for a bit, Jared wondered if we would complete the entire breakfast buddies experience without another customer entering the building. We came awfully close to seeing this happen, as we made it all the way through eating our meal before another soul showed up.

The menu options offered are all pretty standard. As we perused the menu our first cup of coffee was delivered. Their coffee was fine. Nothing special. Nothing earth shattering. It simply tasted like a cup of Folgers. This isn’t a bad thing, just not an exciting thing.

I ordered French toast for breakfast, which caused our server to emphatically say, “Our French toast is the best!”

“Bold words,” I thought to myself as I squinted back at her with a steely glare. Bold words indeed.

An order of French toast comes with a few side options: eggs (scrambled of course), choice of meat (I went with sausage), and choice of potato (hash browns). The eggs and sausage were pretty nondescript. I would not go so far as to say flavorless, but the word bland comes strongly to mind.

I had high hopes for the hash browns though. Getting hash browns at a seedy diner is one of my favorite things, because they are usually fried crisp with a hint of onion, and a fair amount of black pepper. These came out slightly crispy but I could not taste much in the way of seasoning. To make matters worse, the hash browns were slightly undercooked and soft in my opinion. I did share them with Jared – I wonder if his opinion differs.

The French toast was excellent. This tasty treat lived up to exactly what our host said it was. Downtown Diner makes amazing French toast. The French toast had a distinct sweetness to it with a hint of cinnamon. The toast actually had a streusel like crust to it. Not an overwhelming amount of streusel but enough to add an interesting texture. Speaking of texture, the toast had a pleasant crunch on the outside and a soft tender center. It is usually necessary to add something sweet to French toast like syrup or a fruit compote, but Downtown Diner’s does not require it. All that is necessary is a little butter and you can experience a quick trip to joy.

Overall: We would be happy to add the Downtown Diner to the regular rotation. The overall experience was interesting and fun. Of course every breakfast buddies is interesting and fun.

Grade:
Brent: B
Jared: B-

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #36: Village Inn

Villages may vary in visceral reactions
1/26/18 7:00 AM
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Happy 2018, Panclog Pals. I bet you were wondering when you would receive a new edition of your favorite breakfast-themed blog.  My excuse for the absence happens to be the best one you can have. In fact, I have 2. TWINS!!37-Sova-47

My babies are nothing short of enablers of my breakfast addiction.  Almost every day we bind over breakfast. A bottle, a bowl of cereal, and a comfy chair are the ingredients for a lovely breakfast.

Village Inn is a nearly nationwide upscale-diner chain  that has over 200 locations.  The Panclogsters went to the Village Inn in Mission, KS at Johnson Drive and Metcalf.  They are open from 6 AM to 10 PM everyday. Check out their website to find a local locale.

Location/Environment: This Village Inn is located in a growing area or perhaps a better word would be refurbishing area. There are construction sites all around this clearly aging building.  Some would say that this building will “slowly disappear” if not updated in the coming years.  The first thing you see when walking in is the always tempting display case of fresh pies.

Service: The service was standard. Coffee was filled when needed. No recommendations of meals was made. But no recommendations were needed.  A manager checked the Panclogsters out and made sure our trip was a successful one.

Wait time for food: 7 minutes

Menu/Selection: The menu is very similar to a past panclog establishment, Perkin’s.  It has breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They both also feature their house-made pies.  Check out their menu if you don’t believe us. They do have a nice feature called Inn-credible V.I.B.  Thisis a feature similar to a u-pick 2.  But it is actually pick 4!  So that is a nice wrinkle in the morning.  Create your own combo. Let’s dive into our selections:

Belgian Waffle Combo (Brent)

6 am comes early. But, if you want to successfully experience Breakfast Buddies that is often the time you need to get up; the event starts promptly at 7 am. There is no need to worry if you are late though, we will still hug you, we will still share our coffee, we will still share our excess carbs, but, you just might miss solving the crossword with us. Let’s face it folks, your faithful Pancloggers have become senior adults. Someone fire up dinner and have it ready by 4:30 pm, papa is headed for bed about 8.

Our premature aging was evidenced quite clearly at our chosen establishment this fine morning. As it seems our restaurant of choice today was well populated with an older generation. I have always felt that I would make an excellent senior adult, especially considering how quickly I am approaching it. It is a given that my wife and children would suggest that I have already achieved senior adult status.

On this fine morning we found ourselves at the Village Inn, a restaurant that my wife and I used to live right next too. However, I believe this is the first time I have frequented the establishment. The Village Inn is pretty simple to describe: it is a restaurant in the same vein as Perkins. The Village Inn offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they have a lovely display case of pies and other baked items, and they offer a diner like atmosphere.

Speaking of the restaurant’s atmosphere the Village Inn location we visited is clearly showing its age. This is not a problem per se, but unfortunately, the surrounding area is undergoing a bit of a renewal. There are many brand new shops and restaurants being added, and several older ones are getting a brand new facade. My concern is that if the  Village Inn does not have a plan to refurbish its look, it will slowly disappear. For those unaware, many are beginning to believe that there is a Panclog curse. It seems that your fair and easy on the eyes Pancloggers have caused the unfortunate closing of several restaurants. Will the Village Inn be next? I do not know, but I suggest you get out there as soon as possible, in case it does close.

Did you notice that I said they have a lovely display case of pies? I am still dreaming of the White Chocolate Cherry Dream pie, the Key Lime pie, Lemon Meringue, French Silk, and Country Apple. I am overloaded with a desire to experience a full on sugar coma driven by an overconsumption of various pies. Looking at the website you will see an amazing offer, one free piece of pie with any other purchase on Wednesdays. The website even has a handy dandy countdown clock for the momentous event. Sadly, we did not get to participate in this promotion because we showed up on a Friday. With a little bit of research we could have left extra happy, but now I am just overly disappointed. I feel that Jared owes me a return trip for a Wednesday lunch.

Now we must turn ourselves to breakfast. I ordered my current go to breakfast of a Belgian waffle, sausage links, and scrambled eggs.

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The waffle was slightly overdone but came with a more than sufficient amount of margarine. While I prefer butter over margarine, with enough of either, it can ease the crispiness of an overdone waffle. The waffle lacked a touch of sweetness, like powdered sugar or a fruit compote. Some would point me to syrup, but I am currently working on learning to like it, thus I think syrup spoils a tasty treat. Village Inn’s waffle also had a strong malt flavor. I am not a fan of a lot of malt flavoring as it makes a food item taste dusty. I get that may sound odd, but too much malt causes a dust storm in my mouth. It is this reason that I prefer a straight up milkshake over a frozen malt.

The sausage was, fine. Nothing special. Nothing spectacular. Nothing earth shattering. The sausage was just fine. One hopes when biting into any type of sausage, be it a bratwurst, hot dog, or any other type of sausage is a nice clean snap on the casing. Followed quickly by an explosion of juice that fills the palate with flavor. This sausage, while it tasted fine, did not meet any of these qualities.

The menu said the dish came with one egg cooked however you like it. It seems that they did not say what type of egg was being offered. My guess is that they had a case of Quail eggs or Robin eggs, because this was certainly not a grade A, large egg. I can sum up my feelings about Village Inn’s eggs with one word: pitiful.

Like my assessment of the sausage, the breakfast offered by Village Inn was fine. I would not add them to the regular breakfast location rotation. In fact, I would be fine with never going back again. Village Inn is not bad, but it is not good either. If someone offered to take me there I would be fine with it, but I would not suggest it as a location to experience again. So it is up to Jared to take me to lunch on a Wednesday so that I can get a free piece of pie.

  Strawberry Blintzes and Coffee (jared)

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Let’s start this like any research paper that a sub-par student.  A definition and a bunch of blabbering that will help out with the word count requirement.  Oh, no one else did that? Just me? Alrighty Then!
What is a “Blintz?” The Free Dictionary website defines it as: A thin pancake, usually wrapped around a cheese filling, sauteed or baked, and topped with sour cream, fruit, or powdered sugar.

I discovered blintzes while working at the DoubleTree Hotel.  The chef made it for special events such as holiday brunches or fancy employee functions.  Therefore I equate this treat as a delicacy.  This is the first time I have seen this special pancake dish on a chain restaurant’s menu.  Village Inn was offering it with either a strawberry or blueberry topping.  I chose the former.

Village Inn has had a soft spot in my mind for about 18 years. My childhood best friend, Cameron, invited me on a little road trip where his mother had some business to do.  We were in a town that I had no idea existed.  At 10, my life circle was very small.  Cameron and I in the backseat talking about nothing but everything to a child’s brain.  When Cameron’s mom asked if we were hungry, our preteen stomachs screamed, “Absolutely!”

We stopped at a place that Cameron’s mom experienced when she was a child.  That place was Village Inn.  What made this trip even more special than just being on a road trip, was the fact that we were allowed to order off the “big” menu.  No kid’s menu for me.  I was a grown-up if only for a meal.  It was a freeing experience.  I got pancakes.  They were fine but special none the less.

I had not been back to a Village Inn until this meeting of the Breakfast Buddies.

My Blintzes were delicious. A beautiful pairing of Ricotta and cream cheese.  The texture was light and fluffy. The sour cream on top melted into a good counterbalance to the sweetness of the strawberry topping. I was disappointed in the strawberry topping.  It was simply a strawberry compote.  Has a compote ever tasted “fresh” at a diner?  I don’t believe so.  But I’d love to find one.  I was also underwhelmed with the price of the blintzes.  $8.99 felt too much for 3 blintzes and no sides.

Coffee is also known as delicious dirty water.  This makes me feel like it should not be over $2.  At Village Inn, coffee is $2.19.  Yes, I am happy that it is a bottomless cup, but the price point reminds me of when my amazing mother took me and my siblings to a all-you-can-eat buffet, she would state to all of us “eat your worth.”  While that made those trips more worthwhile.  It does not make for a happy stomach when it comes to coffee.

I’d like to recommend not one but 2 songs that have been on repeat in my head. First is Kendrick Lamar’s LOVE. Ft. Zacari.  The second is The Avett Brothers with Murder in The City. If you don’t enjoy either of those, you have bad taste. Don’t @ me.

Overall: Village Inn is a chain diner that is hit-or-miss.  It isn’t outstanding for breakfast nor is it terrible.  It won’t be added to our regular rotation for breakfast.  But it should not be shunned all together.  Middle of the road.

Grade: Brent: C-
Jared: C+

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #35: Cereal Special

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Your intrepid Pancloggers have a wide variety of interests, from exploring faith, film, science, literature, and love, to passion, humor, life, breakfast, and fantasy sports. While some of these endeavors are more consuming than others, we have deep seated interest in all.

Fantasy sports is the interest that led to this edition of the Panclog. More specifically, fantasy baseball. We cut our teeth on fantasy football of course, football being the simpler sport to understand. Having played fantasy football a few years, we felt ready to start the inaugural season of “Captain Planet’s Bae’s Ball” league. A fantasy sports league that tracks the most noble of sports, Baseball.

I am pleased to report, that at the conclusion of our first season, I earned second place. Aside from some initial disappointment, I really hoped for first, I ended up quite pleased with the result. When assembling a team, I try to focus pretty intently on the statistics of each player, without looking at their names or the teams they play for. If I paid any attention to those names or teams, I would only end up with Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds players. Which of course would be a truly magnificent team.

This discussion of fantasy sports leads to the purpose of this Panclog. You see, my fellow Panclogger, and true friend, Jared, likes to place a side bet here and there during the season. I am not sure if he does this with other folks regularly, but I assume he does. In this particular case, Jared and I wagered that the winner of our particular head-to-head matchup would get to pick the loser’s new favorite cereal and said loser would have to write a Panclog for his new favorite cereal. What follows is a Panclog entry describing a transcendent experience with Kellogg’s Krave Double Chocolate cereal. Had Jared lost, he would have had to espouse how much he loved Grape Nuts.

Every cereal, to be described as truly great, must excel in flavor and composition in its dry state, as well as, in its milk state. Few, if any, cereals surpass Post’s Honeycomb in its dry state. Honeycomb eaten raw from the box is eminently snackable. Many a long night I have sat back, watching a nonsense film, throwing back handfuls of Honeycomb cereal. Honeycomb also serves as one of the best road trip teats. There is nothing simpler than using dry cereal as a snack for those long drives across the country.

How a cereal holds up in milk is of equal importance. My favorite cereal to eat with milk is Frosted Flakes. At least until Jared told me that Krave was my favorite. For a cereal to excel in milk, each kernel or flake must withstand milk’s deep seated desire to turn a crispy dream into a soggy nightmare. Milk always wins of course. However, with knowledge and experience, a breakfaster can time his or her meal properly so that the primal milk force can be kept at bay. In the case of Frosted Flakes, one has about 5 minutes before the bowl starts to turn.

As noted earlier, due to a loss in fantasy baseball Krave became my new favorite cereal. I actually tried it for the first time a week ago. I can honestly say the experience was sublime. At least if you think the word sublime means what it sounds like rather than what it actually means.
Krave

The first step in the realizing how magnificent Krave Double Chocolate is, is to try it as a dry cereal. Does Krave hold up as a simple snack? I can dishonestly say that it crushes any other cereal as a dry snack. Each bite of Krave provided an odd experience that I don’t think is possible to get used to. Krave Double Chocolate, as it comes straight out of the box, is as dry as can be. It is, as if, the cereal itself wants to remove the humidity from the air, or anything handling it, just like those don’t eat packets that you find in shoe boxes. Holding a kernel of Krave, or whatever you call one piece of cereal, you can feel the moisture leaving your fingertips at an alarming right. This may cause some trepidation in your heart and mind before you consume the treat, but that feeling is unfounded. You will feel the moisture escape your fingertips at an alarming rate, but if you just chug a gallon of water per kernel of cereal you will remain properly hydrated.

What is truly fascinating about Krave eaten dry is that the cereal instantly disintegrates before your teeth completely close on the treat. At the first sign of pressure from the bite a bitter dust ball of chocolate explodes in your mouth, coating every surface it can find. You will wind up brushing your teeth for an hour afterward to get it all cleaned out. Kellogg’s is in favor of good dental hygiene, and Krave helps deliver on that belief. One would think that excess saliva would help alleviate that dusty experience but it does not. This would lead one to believe that such an experience would be unpleasant and one would be right. However, if you have a nice tall glass of milk you can turn it to chocolate milk instantly. This can be done delicately by taking a long sip and swishing it around your gums. Or, it can be done indelicately by just exhaling over the brim of the glass. Exhale gently, otherwise you are libel to coat your breakfast buddies in a thin cloud of cocoa powder.

I look forward to adding Krave to the normal selection of snacks for any given road trip. It is of the utmost importance to plan ahead points of contention, frustration, and outright anger for any long car ride. Such experiences are necessary to ensure a successful vacation. My new favorite cereal could quite possibly deliver on these necessary experiences more than any other snack item in existence.

We have only covered half of the story though. The other half will have paste eating kindergartners celebrating for years.

KRAV

Now doesn’t that look appetizing? I would suggest what I think it looks like, but we are in polite company.

This is actually bowl number two. On the first bowl I let it sit too long, just over 30 seconds, while I prepped my phone camera to take a picture. That first bowl lost all structural integrity and quickly turned into a smooth, brown ooze before I could snap a picture.

Look closely at the picture and take note. The milk fills about a quarter inch above the bottom of the bowl. Using such little milk increases the cereals life expectancy to a full two minutes. This is the amount of time you have to consume every tasty bite before it turns into the aforementioned kindergartner’s dream, chocolate flavored paste.

Often times it is difficult to describe exactly what a food tastes like through the written word. In this case however, I can describe its flavor perfectly. Hop on over to the grocery store and grab a sleeve of Hydrox cookies, the knock off Oreos. Separate the wafers from the cream filling and roughly crumble the wafers into a bowl. Get your favorite brand of whole milk, I recommend the Shatto Milk Company, and pour it over the top of the crumbled wafers. Now, the crucial step, let the concoction sit for at least four minutes. You may be wondering that the wafers will lose their crispiness, their bite, and I will say that is exactly right. It is highly unlikely that you will experience a crisp bite with Krave, so a crisp cookie bath will give you a false idea of what the cereal is like. Once the four minutes have expired, grab your favorite soup spoon and start shoveling. This is exactly what the milk covered Krave taste and texture is like.

Per the rules of the bet, I declare that Krave is my new favorite cereal. I wish to thank Jared for introducing me to Krave. I have requested to my beloved bride that we move Krave to the top of our shopping list. Sadly, Krave has 23g Total Carbohydrates, of which, 11g come directly from sugar. This breaks a family rule for carb and sugar content. So, unfortunately, I will wander the cereal aisle from now to perpetuity wishing and hoping I can purchase Krave, but cannot. It is my personal burden to bear, but do not let that stop you from experiencing Krave in all of its wonder.

 

Oh you are having a party, I’ll bring the cereal!

Jared Sova here.  Gonna spit some wisdom at you all about the easiest and most varital meal.  CEREAL, SON! Oh you wanna question my cereal expertise. Let’s take this outside.  Here is a picture of my current cereal shelf(ves):

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Are you not satisfied? I also have 3 boxes that are in the cupboard.  Come at me.

If you won’t take my word of my cereal fanatic status. Take Panclog Co-founder, Stephen Shaffer’s word for it.  He took my cereal status to elite levels by procuring me not one, BUT TWO SIGNED CEREAL BOXES!!!

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LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN & THE CAP’N signed these cereal boxes.  Isn’t it super cool that Cap’n made a Captain Phillips joke?  You know that dude keeps up on his Tom Hanks films.

Now that you understand that I have the knowledge to preach about cereal life to you, let’s chat about my favorite cereals. I will be focusing most intensely on Kellogg’s Honey Smacks later on, but that is not my only love.  Bowls of Kix have been known to go missing around my house. (Shh don’t tell anyone, they go missing into my tummy.  I just tell my wonderful wife that they are missing to get more 😉 Did you like how i used the end of that parenthesis into a little winky face? Hit me up later and I can teach you how to do that.  But for real, do not believe the rumors that Kix is the Styrofoam of cereal. Honey Kix are dope too.

Let’s talk about Life.  Not the board game. Not the thing you are living. But the delicious cereal.  Mikey likes it!  So do I! I most prefer the nearly perfect Cinnamon Life.  I believe that Cinnamon Life perfected the ratio of cinnamon to cereal. In my opinion, I have noticed that other cinnamon cereals are a little to heavy handed when it comes to the cinnamon. Be that Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cinnamon Frosted Flakes, or the short-lived Cinnamon Pebbles all missed the mark.  Cinnamon Life is simply delightful.

How do I prefer my cereal prepared?  Let’s break it down.  I need a large bowl.  ‘Cause I’m a large man-child.  I like to fill the bowl 80% of the way up with my favorite cereal. Then I fill it up with milk until the cereal raises about a 1/4 of an inch.  I prefer almond milk now a days. But you can use any of the dairy-ful or dairy-ish products you want.  Let’s see what my cereal looks like when milked up and prepped in the bowl.

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Now doesn’t that look delightful?  Also there is a spotting of Rookie dog in the background. You are welcome.

I wanted to take a good picture for you beautiful people.  Honey Smacks is one of my absolute favorite cereals. Post’s Golden Crisp is essentially the same cereal, but I will side with Honey Smacks all day.  I truly enjoy the honey- forward taste in the malty goodness.  I would say it does not pass Brent’s dry snacking test.  It is a little too sticky feeling when eating with one’s hands. But when in milk it keeps a slight crunchy texture throughout dining.  And it creates the 3rd best cereal milk in the game.  I hope you know that Cocoa Puffs and Pebbles edge them out for the top 3.  Oh the mascot is crazy cool too.  Dig’Em is easily the most overlooked cereal mascot.  Why are people hating on a cereal-loving, hat-wearing, super-lovable frog?

How much should you spend on cereal?  Great question, Panclog Pal.  I have discovered through extensive and relentless research that off brand cereals rarely are of less quality.  So I will tell you my budget per box is less that or equal to $2.50.  Please stop spending up to get a name brand box.  Also local grocery stores hold cereal sales nearly every week.  Stock up.

Thank you so much for tuning into this cereal special of Panclog! What would you like us to write about next?

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #34: Tacos in Austin

Vicki Vallencourt loves Veracruz!

5/29/17 8:54 AM

This is a long time coming. I hope you will forgive me only due to the fact that summer is for relaxing.

In May I went to my soon to be brother-in-law’s bachelor party weekend. We met at his home in Dallas, TX. We then drove to New Braunfels to have a blast of a time with people that will one day soon be in my family.  I was completely honored to be invited to this weekend. Here is a nice picture of Chris with my sisters and I.

 

During this dude trip, we drank plenty of beers and smiled at a lot of people.  I even bowled a 181 in one of the fanciest bowling alleys in New Braunfels.  But let’s get to the heart of the matter, during this trip I discovered the wonderful and mysterious place that is Buc-ee’s.  Buc-ee’s is an incredible convenience store/ gas station in Texas.  They have their own mascot. How many convenience stores do you know that have a mascot!?! Honestly if you know of any, please let me know here.  Wanna see a picture of me and a new friend with a statue of sir Buc-ee?  Too late you are already looking at it.

I am sure you came here to learn about breakfast and not hear about me having a grand ole’ time with some fun people.  So let’s chat about Veracruz All Natural.

Veracruz All Natural started in 2008 as a sno-cone and smoothie trailer.  They then transitioned into a food truck shortly after.  Veracruz then blossomed into a king in the breakfast taco game.  They now have 3 different locations all around Austin.  I will tell you all about it now!

Location/Environment: Veracruz All Natural was and is a food truck.  At their original location (the one we went to) is on E Cesar Chavez. At that location there is a food truck with a fence around it that creates an outdoor seating area.  It was quite quaint with the limited amount of seating that was available. It was a beautiful morning to be dining outside. There were about 7 tables out in this seating area. Each table had a umbrella to shield dining customers from the dangerous rays of the sun.

Service: Veracruz All Natural has the typical food truck ordering system.  Stand in line. Order. Wait for food. Stuff that food into your mouth. Savor! This ordering system can sometimes be an annoyance if you are in a long line of hungry, hungry diners. These soon to be diners tend to create a pressure to know your order before you get to the front of the line.  But Veracruz makes life easy by having their menu on their website and also at the front of the line.

Wait time for food: 7 Minutes.

Menu/Selection: First things first. Check out this taco menu. I am sadly going to neglect the non-breakfast items on this menu.  But if I am ever back in the Austin area, I solemnly swear that I will have more tacos.

The menu was something to be in awe over.  It was simple and elegant all while giving you all of the information you may need when making a decision.  Veracruz also put nice recommendations with a small blurb like “One of the top 5 tacos in America. – Food Network” and “Called a ‘Minimal Masterpiece’ by Rolling Stone.”  These blurbs can easily point you in a direction that you will most definitely find delicious. There are many vegetarian options for those people who don’t deal with meat.

Let’s talk about what I ate!

The delicious taco trio of Migas, La Reyna, and Al Pastor

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I am the type of guy that enjoys a great trio of tacos. I went 3 different tacos to sample the menu and also to taste the rainbow. I chose La Reyna, Al Pastor, and Migas. Let’s start with La Reyna.

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The La Reyna taco is described as egg whites, spinach, avocado, carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, pico de gallo, and Monterey jack cheese. If any of you know me, you may be surprised that I chose this taco. For those of you that are not in the know, I have over and over voted against the use of mushrooms in any dish.  But this fine meal was at the end of a heavy beer-drinking weekend, so when I had the chance to get some vegetables that my darling wife begs me to have when I am away, I grab that chance.  This was a beautifully seasoned medley of grilled vegetables all on a soft yet firm flour tortilla.  There is only one negative aspect about La Reyna is that it is built out of many small ingredients.  This creates a bit of a mess. This certainly doesn’t ruin the meal. It only creates the opportunity to use a fork.

Next is Al Pastor:
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Let me tell you a little love story: A young man of about 23 years of age was telling a friend about his love for tacos.  The friend asked the young man if he actually liked tacos or only taco bell. The young man stated a taco is a taco and that he liked them all. The kind friend promptly took this young man to the most magical taco joint that he has ever been to. That place was Bonito Michoacán.

Tacos are $1 on Tuesdays and Fridays at Bonito Michoacán. So that faithful Friday, that young man ate 7 different tacos from tripe to beef tongue and carne asada to chicken. After all that the young man decided that Al Pastor was best. And that young man grew up to be me, Jared Scot Sova!

Great story, right?  Al Pastor is pork that is marinated in pineapple juice and chile guajillo. This stuff is some of the tastiest meat that you can ever have. The pairing with queso fresco and avocado that Veracruz All Natural did was something special.  After dining on this taco I wrote one simple note. “Beautifully Done.”

Onto the Migas taco
IMG_0090First I’d like to say sorry about this picture. It was the first taco I had.  I ate this taco and then instantly learned how to take a better portrait of a taco. But I first must say how fantastic migas is.  Migas is a staple in the tex-mex breakfast game.  Migas is made up of eggs, tortilla chips, avocado and pico de gallo.  Because the tortilla chips are added to the eggs while they are being cooked, they soak up some of the flavor while also slightly softening.  The key to good migas is to have the tortilla chips retain some of their crunchiness. This gives the dish the extra credit of differing textures that many dishes lack.

I would have to say that this taco was my absolute favorite of the three I tried.  I do enthrall you to try as many as you can.

La Reyna – $3.50
Al Pastor – $3.00
Migas – $3.50

Overall: If you are anywhere near the Austin, Texas area, Veracruz All Natural is an absolute must.  If you do not like the outdoor seating, Veracruz has a traditional restaurant location.  The prices are a bit high per taco. But I must say that they are worth it.

Grade: I must give it an A+.  I want more.  Someone should bring me tacos.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #33: Floridian Panclog Tour

Actin’ a fool in Florida

4/12/2017 & 4/15/2017
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Note from Jared: My wife and I crashed the Morgan’s vacation. Because it was Brent’s vacation, I will let you enjoy his amazing narrating skills.

Your intrepid Pancloggers, on a whim, decided to experience the breakfast foods of the great state of Florida. Well it was not exactly on a whim, much planning was involved. Do not doubt the adventurous nature of your Cloggers though because we chose to bring along our wives. Not only that, we brought four teenagers. Yes, Jared and I are not only brave,and handsome, we are willing to accept any challenge regardless of its danger. Within reason of course. We would not necessarily shop for the most sought after Christmas gift, but we would certainly brave a light sprinkling rain. Only if we had a raincoat, slickers, and permission from our moms.
You might be saying, I understand taking the spouses, who could handle that much trouble if you left them behind, but why would you drag four teenagers along. Especially considering that one teenager is excessive enough. To that, we must ask, would you leave four teenagers home alone to destroy all of your personal property. No, we had to accept the lesser evil and bring them along with us. We may have regretted this at times, but it is better than coming home and discovering your house burnt to the ground.

With our wives and my children in tow we headed out to Florida, specifically Seacrest Beach, FL. Seacrest Beach is adjacent to Rosemary Beach, and the two areas blend into what feels like one larger neighborhood. The community feels wholly separate from the other areas of the panhandle, especially its closest neighbor, Panama City Beach. The community is quaint, friendly, clean, and endearing. It seems that when the planners developed this resort city they had their eye squarely on the well to do family. I am truly surprised they let us in.

The area shuts down about 10 pm every night, and there is not much nightlife available. Cool with me because I was looking for relaxing vacation with an opportunity to just enjoy an easygoing week. There are many activities planned for the residents that are fun and free. For instance, a family scavenger hunt helped you discover all that Rosemary had to offer. They also had a movie night on the green where they played Star Wars: Rogue One. It was an outdoor showing in the cool night air.

The white sandy beaches on the Florida panhandle are the most beautiful beaches in the US in my opinion. The Outer Banks in North Carolina are a close second. The beaches in this particular area are private and require special access. In our case, they gave us wristbands to show that we were renting a place. I highly recommend going to the beach late on a clear night. The stars come out in great numbers then.

It is a great place to just sit back and leave the technology behind.

There is one aspect of Florida that is quite odd: spoons are a rare commodity. We did not think much of it at the first time we noticed it, but the house we rented only had two normal sized spoons. We would soon discover upon dining out at a few places, that Florida is stingy with their spoons. Spoons were not part of the silverware pack left on any of the tables and only delivered when the food in question required it. I believe a million dollar business idea is up for grabs here in solving Florida’s spoon shortage.

I digress.

Let us return to the subject that everyone is most interested in, Breakfast. With Jared’s stated goal of finding a place that is so good that he buys the shirt, we had high expectations. Couple that with a population that skews to senior adults, you would expect Florida has it going on in the breakfast department.

Our first eatery was a popular placed called The Donut Hole. With a name like that, one would expect empty plates. Terrible joke. I am sorry. I would like to say it will not happen again, but I cannot guarantee it. Low hanging fruit must be picked.
Hole

The Donut Hole is a nice looking restaurant built like a refurbished barn. The ceilings are vaulted very high making for a huge and spacious feel. The floor plan is wide open with tables that are well spaced and easy to move around in. The atmosphere in The Donut Hole is quite appealing. There is one downside to this; sound echoes quite a bit making it difficult to hear. At least for me.

Perhaps the most intriguing item on the menu is a bit of local cuisine called Tomato Gravy. To this good Midwestern boy the words Tomato and Gravy sound like two concepts that should not be mixed. It sounds straight up weird causing my head to do the quizzical dog head tilt. One of our brave number actually tried the Tomato Gravy with biscuits. Her view was that it tastes like a thick, floury, tomato soup. While I did not try it, it feels unappetizing.

(Megan) {Hello Humans of Panclog!  Wifey here. I am the adventurous soul that ordered the ill-advised Biscuits and Tomato Gravy.  First of all, I ordered the half order, which consisted of one biscuit and a 8oz-ish bowl of tomato gravy.  The size of the order was enough to solidify that I never want to order that again.  When I travel, it brings me much joy to try the local “flavor” and the waitress stressed that tomato gravy is very Floridean, so I tried it.  I won’t disparage other people’s life choices, but tomato gravy is not for me.  It tasted like tomato soup blended with country gravy, which I found distasteful.  The biscuit, however, was moist and fluffy.  Wifey out}

Grav

I ordered the facetiously named “Diet Plate”. The dish was very similar to the Country Benedict at Big Biscuit. The plate begins with a very large biscuit split and stacked with a mess of scrambled eggs and two sausage patties. They are sure to cover everything in sausage gravy. On the side is a pile of hash browns.
Diet

The side of hash browns were quite tasty. I am a huge fan. There was not a need to add any additional seasoning and their flavor came across as quite peppery. Having not to add additional seasoning to the side potatoes on a breakfast plate is pleasing. I appreciate the chef who does it just right.

Unfortunately, the “Diet Plate” was not any better than what Big Biscuit produces. It was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just did not shine overtop of any other breakfast place. If I lived in Florida, The Donut Hole would enter the regular rotation of breakfast places that I would visit. I enjoyed the meal but I did not want to buy the shirt.

Sadly, neither did Jared.

Now for a bit of total honesty. We went to a restaurant called The Donut Hole, and yet we did not purchase a donut. I do feel a little ashamed about this turn of events.

(Vesta) Hey there Panclog fans!! This is the other blushing bride. The Donut Hole was a clean, bright, and airy establishment with the donut shop and a restuarant area. There were several seating options for large and small groups. It was apparent it is a popular choice for visitors in the area (not sure about the locals.)

For my selection at the Donut Hole, I chose the Gulf Coast Crabmeat Benedict, and coffee. The coffee was pretty good, and the waitress was frequently back for refills. My meal consisted of poached eggs with two crab cakes atop a lightly toasted split English muffin and toppped with Hollandaise sauce, served with a side of hashbrowns seasoned with garlic and onion. The hashbrowns were seasoned and cooked well. There was a pleasing amount of crab meat in the crabcakes and they had a good flavor, but they were a bit too moist for my liking. I think a bit more crunchy texture would have been good.  Over all, I would definitely eat here again given the chance.  I did get the chance to recommend the Donut Hole to some friends who also visited the Gulf Coast area. They were pleased with the donut selection.

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(Jared) I grew up not loving Florida.  All I knew about Florida was negative things that I learned from the hilariously sad Florida Man meme.  Brent wanted to make Florida better for me.  I feel incredibly honored to be invited on this lovely vacation.

Due to the weekly breakfast obsession that Brent and I have developed it was not terribly difficult to talk the Morgan’s into going out for breakfast at least once during the trip.  Thankfully I was blessed with not one but two breakfast stops.  Once you have everyone on the trip trained to spot and announce possible breakfast spots, you will have a much happier life.  The wives went to grab groceries and not only came back with food for the week but also a strong contender for a Panclog spot.

That spot turned out to be The Donut Hole. The Donut Hole was at the end of 30A, the scenic highway that connects the beach peninsula to the regular old panhandle highways. We decided to walk to breakfast. It was about a 20ish minute walk. This was such a lovely walk in the morning. It was not too hot, nor too cold.  This walk allowed me to make the mistake that I have made countless times. Which mistake? The one where I say that since I “exercised” I can eat everyone’s leftovers.  Someone once wrote “Never Change” in my yearbook.  I won’t change, Vaughn! No Worries!

The Donut Hole was an adorable vacationers get-away.  They had all of the fun things that families can do while waiting for a table to open up. They had cornhole and an outdoor ping-pong table.  I will say because we went on a Wednesday before 9 AM there was no wait. When walking in, you are allowed to order donuts and pies and leave or you are invited to sit and order from a full-order kitchen. We chose the latter.  They had a pretty standard menu for a breakfast joint but with a couple regional specialties, of course.

I got the Texas Sweet Potato Pancakes and coffee.

donut pancake
The Sweet Potato Pancakes came with a pecan-molasses-brown sugar sauce. You would think that these pancakes would come out more orange-y.  I thought that too.  These cakes seemed to only have the sub-flavor of sweet potatoes.  This was somewhat a let down.  I expected something with a fuller darker flavor.  The sauce was a good accent to the pancake symphony.   The sauce was neither too sweet nor rich.  It was a good median.  It was a good substitute to syrup.  The cakes were $7.95.  This is good pricing for a tourism town that tends to steal money with the traditional Disney World pricing.

Grades:
Brent: Overall, The Donut Hole earns 3.5 stars out of five.
Jared: I would give this shop a C++! Pretty cool, right, my coders?
The second eatery we singled out for breakfast caught us both out of the corner of our eye. We were headed back to the rental and passed by a strip mall. Proudly situated in the middle of that strip mall sat an aptly named restaurant called, The Pancakery. Plans to try this place immediately occurred upon its discovery.

pancakery

It is probably painfully obvious given the name, but in case you missed it, this place specializes in pancakes. The menu is loaded with many different kinds of cakes, toppings, syrups, jellies, and anything else you can imagine placing on a pancake. In my case, I elected to go with The Big Apple Pancakes.

pancake

The picture does not quite do it justice, but the pancakes are huge. Which inspires the following dialog:
DINER: How big are your pancakes?
SERVER: Umm, if you look at the table over there you will get an idea.
DINER: Good grief, those are bigger than the tires on my Camry. If you finish the cake, do you win a contest?
SERVER: Would you prefer the contest flapjack? It is the size of a tablecloth; but if you finish it in ten minutes, the meal is free.
DINER: I think I will pass.
This may be sacrilegious to some of our readers, but I believe that the size of pancakes is getting out of hand. Is it truly necessary to have a pancake so large that you could paper a wall with it? Gone are the days of a 3 to 4 stack of 6-inch diameter flapjacks. A stack of cakes requires more skill and closer involvement with your breakfast to ensure even butter distribution along with the pancakes’ other accouterments. Finishing a stack, leads to greater satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment. I implore breakfast eateries to pursue a vertical presentation rather than a horizontal one.
Another consequence of oversized pancakes is that to serve a normal breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon or sausage, requires a multitude of plates. It seems that most breakfast places want to serve each individual item on its own plate. “I’m feeling a bit peckish today, so I will have the 9-plate special.” I tend to lose sight of my breakfast buddies behind a mountain of dishes when the meal is served.
The pancakes at The Pancakery are quite tasty; however, they feel a bit dense. The flapjacks could use some additional leavening agents to pump some air in them. My preference is to have a cake that is lighter and fluffier, one that bonds with the butter and toppings better. It might be my imagination but I thought I caught a slight hint of vanilla in the batter, which added a nice dimension to the dish.
As noted before I had the Big Apple Pancakes, which came with apples on top. It normally comes with whipped cream as well, but I opted to forego that this time. Sadly, the apple topping was a disappointment, as it tasted like prepackaged apple pie filling. Which I like, but I was hoping it would have been fresh apples sautéed in butter with cinnamon and sugar. I would certainly order this item again but I will feel slightly wanting.
Like The Donut Hole, The Pancakery easily enters the regular rotation of eateries if it happened to be closer to home. My next time I am driving along highway 30A I will be sure to stop by.

(Jared) The Pancakery is one of many well named breakfast spots that I have had come across on my various vacations.  The first being The Pancake Man in Cape Cod, MA, Wildberry Pancakes in Chicago, IL, International House of Pancakes in everywhere, USA, and the most recent being The Pancakery. I think a clever name is one of the most important parts of having a successful breakfast destination. The Pancakery first opened in Destin, FL and then heard that the Morgan-Sova clan was visiting Florida.  This caused them to hurry up and open a Pancakery closer to where we were staying.  The Panama City Beach location was open less than 2 months when we visited.

Check out their breakfast menu and feel the special part of your stomach that was built for breakfast start to growl.  I decided to enjoy The Destinite.  This pancake platter was declared as their favorite combination of strawberries, bananas, and chocolate.  They also advertised that it was cooked into the cakes.  I think that last statement is the most important in terms of wow-ing or disappointing me.
pcake

Check those cakes out.  Oh you are distracted by me? Sorry let me fix that.
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Look at that messy yet artful meal.  After my first bite, I realized that the menu was not lying. The Pancakery took the small but vital step of tossing some of the toppings into the batter when cooking these flapjacks up.  It is so impressive when a breakfast spot doesn’t simply throw a some blueberries on the top of pancakes and calls them “Blueberry Pancakes.” Sorry that isn’t a blueberry pancake. That would be a pancake with blueberries.  Yeah I take my pancakes and the naming of their dishes very serious.

I would agree with my fellow pancloggers that these cakes are very thick.  It was pretty interesting that butter was not brought out for any of the cakes on the table, it was only offered.  Not complaining, only noting. I will also say that I am not the biggest chocolate fan.  I still ate well more of the cakes than I should have. But the chocolate chips overwhelm the strawberries and bananas.

These cakes were delicious. I would recommend bringing a friend and splitting this pancake platter.  Oh my goodness. How great of a first date idea is this? Answer: Perfect date plan.  Bring a pretty person and share some delicious pancakes with them.  If they don’t like pancakes, just walk out.

We enjoyed The Pancakery on our way out of town.  I may not suggest eating huge pancakes before driving 8 hours. But, I would absolutely try all of The Pancakery’s pancake varieties if I lived near either location.

(Vesta) This is Brent’s wife again…As you have been told by now, the second restaurant we visited was the Pancakery. This was a new establishment, which opened March 2nd of this year.  Pancakes were certainly the focus of this place, with many options for toppings or inclusions. Omelettes were on the menu if pancakes aren’t you thing.

I ordered the Healthy Choice pancakes. These were whole grain cakes with fresh strawberries and blueberries cooked in the cakes and fresh berries served on top. They were tasty, but VERY large. They did have a variety of sizes of pancakes, but all were large–the order of sand dollar pancakes included 6 cakes about 7″ in diameter. You should not be hungry when you leave this place. The coffee was so-so, and the wait staff
could have done a better job of stopping by for refills, but all in all, it was a decent place.

vcake

An interesting observation we made while visiting, you’ll probably need to ask for a spoon.

One thing you should note–the Pancakery is across the street from David’s sno-ball (New Orleans style sno-balls) I recommend going here if you have the chance and ordering a stuffed sno-ball. These are like the traditional snow cones, but they have your choice of soft serve ice cream inside, a tasty adaptation.

Grades:
Brent: The Pancakery – 3.25 stars out of five. Like The Donut Hole, we did not feel compelled to get the shirt.
Jared: I am giving The Pancakery a grade of B.  Not amazing, but definitely in the rotation when in the panhandle of Florida.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #32: Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

Palin’ Around at Perkins

3/14/2017

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This is the March-iest Panclog since our fantastic and controversial review of John’s Space Age Donuts.  It was pretty epic.  I assure you that this edition is going to be tasteful and elegant.  If you don’t think so, the Panclog Pals recommend you watch a  couple episodes of Masha & The Bear in its original Russian.  This will calm you down and make you happy. Enjoy today’s Panclog review of Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery.

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery is a chain restaurant that specializes in tasty pies and greasy (in a good way) food.  We went to the Perkins at 87th Street and I-35 in Overland Park, KS.  This location is open 6 AM – 12 AM Sunday through Thursday and open all 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Check out their website to find a location near you.

Location/Environment: The environment is cultivated, like many other chains, in a style that promotes continuity between locations.  The first thing you see when walking in is a tantalizing baked goods section. This comes into play later. Keep your eyes peeled. The environment is one that is warm with wood – paneling, booths and checkout counter all be-decked in a light stained oak.  The location of this Perkins is perfect for people getting together.  It is right off the highway and has ample parking.

Service: The service at this Perkins is everything you want from a chain restaurant.  Our server not only gave us recommendations, but also kept our coffee full at all times.  Coffee being full is the key to being an awesome server.

Wait time for food: 5 minutes

Menu/Selection: Perkins specializes in American cuisine.  They are known for their baked goods that they hawk at the front counter.  The Peanut Butter Silk pie is something that every  human deserves.  Buy one for your favorite Panclog writer.  The menu offered by the restaurant is quite large with many options, with breakfast getting a couple of dedicated pages. The devotion to breakfast is much appreciated. The breakfast choices are typical, including various styles of pancakes, French toast, eggs, and assorted breakfast meats. Perkins does have a wide assortment of muffins served warm and tasty.  Perkins is in the midst of a push to get late night diners. Check out these specials.

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Check that out! All you can eat pancakes! Half priced pie! Perkins knows what those late night diners want. You can always find something you will want to put in your mouth. Read their extensive menu here.

Food:

Big Country Smasher (Jared)

 

Breakfast is not just for when you wake up.

My mother, the saintly Shari, once told me of the mythical “California Menu.”  This means that whatever is on the menu is available all day.  I believe this is the reason why famous people and fancy technological people (techies) live in California.  If you can get breakfast at any restaurant then you are 83% more likely to live a happy and successful life.*

*I made this statistic up.  But try to disprove it!

This dreamy California menu brings me to restaurants that serve breakfast all day long: IHOP, Denny’s, Steak & Shake and Perkins. Ask me what I want for dinner and I’ll tell you it’s gonna be BRINNER!  Breakfast for dinner is the king of meals. It feels wrong but I assure you it is so right.

Song obsession of this clog: Beacon Hill by Damien Jurado. Enjoy.

I would have to say that Perkins has not done themselves proud in the marketing department, as that I don’t believe they have definitively declared themselves as a breakfast-focused restaurant.  And without this clear focus, many diners may perceive Perkins as a place of ill-repute.  Not all chains are bad. Not all Mom & Pop shops are amazing.  I give you a recommendation to make your life better.  Try all the breakfast places and then decide which ones are bad.  The bad ones you don’t have to go anymore.  But here is an even better recommendations, if you hear about a breakfast spot that you don’t know is good or not. Send it on over to us on twitter. We will give you the sweet hookup on whether or not its worth your time.

Let’s get a good look at my meal that is interestingly named The Big Country Smasher.
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Looks interesting, am I right? Let’s break down what is inside this dish. The crust is smashed up tater tots (I have a hunch that this gives it its name.) These tots are the salty greasy foundation of a well-balanced breakfast.  Next we have not 1, not 2, but 3,  the holy trinity of breakfast meats, ham, sausage, and bacon. Can you go wrong with throwing all of the breakfast meats into a breakfast dish?  That is a rhetorical question. On top of that meat, an egg that is cooked to your liking.  I chose over-easy because I love making a mess.  Then we add the warm comforter that is sausage gravy. Then garnish with some freshly shredded cheddar cheese.  Yep all of that in a bowl.  It is something to take in.  I’ll admit that, though this dish isn’t the prettiest, it hits the spot.

If you didn’t know, Perkins is known for their baked goods. If you go to a restaurant and they say that they are known for something, a good plan is to always try that something. Brent and I tried the blueberry muffin at the behest of our server.  Here is a picture!

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Yep, it was that good.  It was so good that Brent thought about eating the wrapper.  I would say this muffin was more cake-y than other muffins I have had. Some people butter their muffins.  This muffin was so fluffy and flavorful, the butter was unnecessary. Even better about this muffin is that it was a cheaper add-on because I had one of the Perkins specials.

Perkins is a good breakfast spot.  I would not say it is great, but it definitely should be added to everyone’s rotation.  If you don’t have a rotation of breakfast spots, hit me up and we will start getting that morning grub on.

Coffee: $2.29
Big Country Smasher: $9.29
Blueberry Muffin: $0.99


French Toast Breakfast (Brent)

 

A Perkins Panclog makes for a nice alliteration. It is not often when we get to play games with language while celebrating one of the few joys in life, breakfast. I recall mentioning that we were going to Panclog Perkins to my spouse and her response was incredulous, “Really, that place?” I am not sure my darling wife feels that Perkins is Panclog worthy. Sure, it is a national chain, and sure, it is not at the top of our list of restaurants, but we at the Panclog are equal opportunity breakfasters.

Perkins is exactly what you would expect it to be. A restaurant in the same vein as Shoney’s, Bob Evans, and, to some degree, Crackle Barrel. On long road trips, I like to stop at these types of restaurants to stretch my legs and grab a decent meal. Usually these establishments are clean and pleasant with staff who are kind and friendly. The Perkins that Jared proposed we patronize is no different from what you would expect and is inviting and warm. Albeit the restaurant was relatively empty for its size when we arrived at seven in the morning. We have been to this particular Perkins a couple times and it has wanted for customers each time.

muffins

Jared was kind enough to purchase a blueberry muffin as an appetizer for our breakfast and shared it with me. Rather than slice the pastry in half like untrusting acquaintances, we shared it in a fashion that was more akin to Lady and the Tramp. There is nothing awkward about two grown men sharing an unadorned cupcake in this fashion. Get out there with your best buddy and go for it.

On a side note, how brilliant is having an appetizer before your breakfast actually starts. The depth of wisdom shared by the Panclog team is remarkable. The Breakfast Buddies should begin getting dessert as well. I wonder what breakfast ice cream would be like. Perhaps just vanilla ice cream with some crispy rice cereal thrown on it. Maybe a maple-flavored cheesecake with a crust made of grape nuts. I could go for an apple pie filling pastry pocket (wait, isn’t that already a thing?). We often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is time that we treated it as such, and make it a multicourse experience.

For this particular Panclog I opted for the French toast breakfast with a side of scrambled eggs and sausage links.

FT

Just a simple basic breakfast really, which was kind of what I was in the mood for anyway. The toast was cooked well with a satisfying crust on the edges and not too soggy in the middle. Sadly, there was not enough butter provided in my opinion. A breakfast place that brought out a butter-filled ramekin on the side would win me over in a heartbeat. Just to sound more fussy and entitled, a powdered sugar shaker placed on the side with be terrific too. That way you could get a nice pool of melted butter on the French toast and sprinkle enough powdered sugar on the top to make a nice glaze. This, my friends, pushes French toast to its highest heights.

The eggs and sausage were good, but nothing that would generate a lot of excitement. Overall, that is what you could probably say about Perkins in general. The restaurant is good and you will not leave disappointed, but I do not see it revving anyone’s engines. Some mornings that is exactly what you need. Thus, I would recommend going to Perkins and putting the establishment in the normal cycle, but I would not suggest that you choose it above some other places. If you had to choose between the Big Biscuit here in KC or Perkins, head on over to the Big B. However, if you are heading on a long trip out of town and you are looking for something that is consistent and friendly then pop on in to Perkins. Perkins will fulfill those expectations.

French toast breakfast – $8.29

Coffee – $2.29

Overall: Perkins has earned the right to be visited on a regular basis.  Try it and tell us what you think.

Grade:

Brent – Perkins earns 3.25 stars out of five.

Jared – C++ or B– Both of these are now real grades.  Its better than average and worse than great.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

 

Panclog #31: Tortilla Ranch

Rockin’ at the Ranch
1/25/2017
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Good day to everyone who is laying eyes on this fine blog.   Also to those of you are lucky enough to have a pretty person reading this to you. Audio-book style. Thank that reader with a gift like a bouquet of dandelions.  But before you go out to look for sub-par foliage in the middle of winter, you should probably wait until you’ve finished reading about our breakfast adventures at Tortilla Ranch.

Tortilla Ranch is a Mexican restaurant located at College Blvd and Antioch Road. They are open from 7 AM to 9 PM. But on Friday and Saturday you get an extra hour to dine because they close at 10 PM!! Don’t try to go there on Sundays, as they are closed.   Be nice and check out their website.

Location/Environment: The environment in the restaurant is nice. The chairs are straightbacked and wooden, and as such, can grow uncomfortable after a bit of time. The breakfast buddies do tend to overstay their welcome at restaurants. The wooden motif creates a warm atmosphere in the restaurant.  Tortilla Ranch is also located less than 3 minutes away from Brent and Jared’s jobs, respectively.

Service: The service at Tortilla Ranch was standard for the order-first sit-later style that is becoming popular in fast-casual restaurants.  Our cashier was very friendly and happily gave us water cups when we forgot to ask for them.

ait time for food: 4 minutes.

Menu/Selection: Tortilla Ranch tried to be as authentic Mexican food as can be.  They have a fairly small menu.  Smaller menus usually show that the restaurant is very proud of these items and do not want to stretch too thin to make a product that does not live up to the other items.  We were able to witness the staff prepping all of the produce for lunch service.  This shows me that they use product that is fresh.  Much appreciated. The breakfast menu on the website does not include everything that they offer.

Food:

Breakfast Bowl (Brent)

Your intrepid cloggers have opted to venture off the beaten path of traditional breakfast places opting to breakfast at what I consider a good burrito lunch destination, Tortilla Ranch Mexican Grill. I have been to this fine establishment a few times for lunch but never realized TR served breakfast. Needless to say I was surprised to hear this restaurant suggested for breakfast by Jared.

Meeting at our usual time of 7 am, we walked into the nicely decorated restaurant and perused the menu. Lunch type items with the addition of eggs filled the menu thus making them all the options,”breakfasty”. Not necessarily a bad thing. I ordered a breakfast bowl filled with chorizo, potatoes, eggs, cheese, pico, and avocado. There were some onions in there too I think.

bowl
Looks lovely does it not.
This combination of flavors is quite good, but powerful. In all honesty, the dish was overwhelming as a breakfast option. I guess I prefer to ease slowly into my day. If I had this for lunch, I would have enjoyed it a great deal.

Nonetheless, the potatoes were tender but retained their texture; seasoned well if not a bit salty. The chorizo in the dish is also good. The remaining ingredients, like the pico, avocado, etc. are fresh, tasty, and well portioned. The downside, as noted earlier, is that there is a lot going on in this dish and it does not offer a place to relax. As each bite mounts, so does the intensity of the experiencing. The dish is not spicy hot; it just has many flavors that add up. To compensate, one must drink a copious amount of water or coffee to get the palate cleansed.

The coffee is good and inexpensive, just a dollar, if you buy a breakfast item.

While I would not recommend going to breakfast at Tortilla Ranch, I do highly recommend going there for lunch and/or dinner. The freshness of the ingredients, the care to which they prepare those ingredients, and the simple combinations assembled for their dishes is noteworthy. The next time someone wants to buy my lunch, an open invitation, I will be sure to steer them in that direction.

Breakfast Enchiladas (Jared)

Breakfast is the king of meals. Would you disagree? If you do, I am quite shocked that you are reading this fine award-winning blog.  My wife said this was a good blog.  That is an award. She has a BA in English! So, she can award people awards.  Because breakfast is king, restaurants have been trying to sneak other foods into the breakfast category.  Some are very successful. I.e. Pizza, Burritos, sandwiches. Some foods just don’t go over very well like porridge, soup, and perhaps even enchiladas.

If that doesn’t tell you what I tried at Tortilla Ranch, maybe a picture will help.
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Now that looks like a great picture.  I have been striving to become the Ansel Adams of food photography.  I prefer natural light and a subject that will be in my stomach soon after the photo is taken.

Take a journey with me through some of the people and things that tried to go outside of the box and did not succeed, Michael Jordan as a baseball player, Pop Tarts in Crush Orange Soda flavor, Watermelon Oreos, Vince McMahon as Owner of the XFL, and now enchiladas as a breakfast food.

I am not saying these enchiladas are not good.  I am simply pointing out that they were too strong for me to fully enjoy in the 7 o’clock hour. In fact, this enchilada would be incredible for lunch or dinner. Another thing I really enjoy but not at 7 AM:  beer.  Check out Brent and me in our other article series, Thirsty Thursday.  We talk about a famous person we want to have a beer with and then pair a beer that we think they would enjoy.  It is almost award winning.  Megan, please give us another award.  We work fairly hard.

Tortilla Ranch’s coffee is only $1 when you get a breakfast item.  I truly enjoy this incentive pricing.  I believe that more restaurants should do this.  As Brent calls it, “Coffee is just dirty water.” So come on down on the price.  If you can get away with it, please try adding horchata to your coffee as a fancy creamer.  It adds some lovely sweetness to your coffee time.

I will absolutely be visiting Tortilla Ranch for lunch or dinner for some authentic fresh Mexican food.  I suggest you do the same.

Breakfast Enchiladas: $6.95
Coffee: $1.00

Overall: Tortilla Ranch may be a pass for breakfast, but we both strongly suggest them for any other meal.  The fast-casual type of ordering will allow you to get some authentic Mexican cuisine for a quick lunch.

Grade:
Brent –
 Overall, I would give Tortilla Ranch Mexican Grill 1.5 stars out of five for breakfast, which bums me out. However, concerning lunch or dinner, let us make that 3.5 out of five stars.

Jared – D+ for breakfast. It would definitely be higher if I could get this breakfast enhcilada for lunch or dinner.

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