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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
group

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

 

Panclog #30: McLain’s Market

Update 1/25/17: We recently visited McLain’s Market again, and we are proud to announce that the foul odor has disappeared.  We wholeheartedly recommend McLain’s.  Go on, child. Eat good food.

Munching at McLain’s
11/29/2016

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McLain’s Market is the sister store of McLain’s Bakery in Waldo. McLain’s Market is located on the Northeast corner of 435 and Roe Avenue. McLain’s Market is less than 2 months old.  They opened on October 11th, 2016. You can check out their website if you like. They are open for breakfast, lunch and light dinners.

Location/Environment: McLain’s is across the street from a Quiktrip where a Shell gas station once stood. McLain’s is very easy to get to thanks for them being right off the highway.  McLain’s is what you would call country-urban.  It is decorated in a chic but home-y fashion.

Service: McLain’s Market is a order-first sit-later establishment.  We had a small group of people in front of us, this provided the perfect duration of time to peruse the menu and make a decision.  The coffee was served from their espresso machine area.  This could cause a wait if the barista is busy making orders. All workers in the bakery area and cash registers had chipper attitudes.

Wait time for food: 7 minutes

Menu/Selection: McLain’s Market is not just a breakfast spot.  They are also open for lunch, and afternoon appetizers.  Did you also catch that this place is a bakery?  That means they have delicious sweets and desserts, too.  McLain’s also serves beer and wine. It looks like a wonderful place to get together with an old friend and share some pastries while sipping on some wine.  McLain’s has been kind enough to publish their menu on their website.

Food:

Market Bowl and Almond Croissant (Jared)

Mornings are simply better when you are able to share it with good people over good food.  Seriously is there anything better than coffee conversations? Well maybe a conversation over a nice beer. Oh that reminds me! Go read the interesting series of Thirsty Thursday posts.  Read them with a chilled pint of Milwaukee’s Best! Click here for beer reading material!

Walking into McLain’s Market feels great. Why you ask? Well I’ll tell you why, this place is aesthetically pleasing to both the eyes and both the nostrils.  They have some of the cutest décor that you will find west of the Mississippi.  You know those east-of-the-Mississippi people have some incredible decorating skills.  We can all agree on that. And that nostril thing?  It is not as gross as it sounds.  McLain’s is a bakery. That means they bake stuff. Baked goods smell incredible. I rest my aesthetically-pleasing case.

When waiting in line for the cash register, McLain’s brilliantly surrounds the customer with freshly baked goods.  This is my favorite type of entrapment.  They show you tasty things when you already hungry.  It worked.  I bought that almond croissant to prove to McLain’s that they have a good sales technique.

Let’s talk about this Market Bowl. When I read the description of chorizo verde, scrambled eggs, avocado, and potatoes.  I screamed, “TAKE MY MONEY!” They graciously accepted my payment. When I received my bowl of goodness, I was slightly confused.  For some reason, I was expecting an omelette or a scramble of sorts.  This was not a bad realization at all.  Just a surprise.  The layering of foods allowed me to choose the flavor combinations myself.  Bowls are hot right now.  Being able to hold your food and eat it makes people happier. That is a fact. I heard it on the radio.

The green chorizo was everything you want in chorizo.  It is sliced a little larger than I have seen it before.  The spice level of this chorizo was perfect.  Spicy enough to make you rethink all of your life’s decisions but not spicy enough to make you do anything different. I usually don’t like onions and peppers in my food, but when hidden inside this bowl, I guess they are fine.

The almond croissant is flaky and gooey.  It will fit perfectly in your stomach where the sweets go.  I want more.  I believe I will be going back this week just to get more pastries.  I have a sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied by more goodies from McLain’s.

I must say when Brent and I visited this fine establishment, we were struck by the scent of natural gas.  I stated that it was something like “butt smell.”  I am at the assumption that this was a one time event. We will find out next time I check it out.

Large Coffee: $1.99
Market Bowl: $6.50
Almond Croissant: $3.00

Pepper Jack Burrito (Brent)

McLain’s Market is a newly opened bakery/breakfast place that the Panclog crew recently visited. Located on the corner of Roe and 107th St in Overland Park, KS, McLain’s repurposed an old gas station on the site to build out their restaurant. They recycled a building, and for that they are heroes.

The work that the McLain’s team has done to remodel the building is terrific. The outside and inside stylings complement each other quite well. There is a lot of exposed wood and steel throughout the décor, with some old west style accents (maybe?). I am not an interior decorator so my best guess for style is Urban Country. You would be better off checking it out for yourself at your nearest opportunity.

Let’s pause and look at a nice picture.
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Ordering is a simple process: check the overhead board, make some decisions, walk to the counter, place your order, pay some money, and you’re done. Back in the inner workings of McLain’s your breakfast is prepared and will be delivered to you. Or at least they will yell out your name so you can go grab it. If you bring a Jared, there is a good chance he will jump up and get your food for you. He’s nice like that.

I apologize for the momentary lapse in writing. I took a moment to look at the nice picture again. I should probably remove the picture as she is very distracting.

Back to McLain’s. The food appeared very fast. As I wasn’t feeling 100% that day I looked for something that would be relatively small, but I also wanted to find something that was representative of a full breakfast. Enter the breakfast burrito. Specifically, McClain’s Pepper Jack Burrito.
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As a brief aside. When I get creamed by a bus and go to heaven, I would like to meet the inventor of the burrito and give that person a hug. A hug so long that it is almost inappropriate and awkward. I would like the inventor, whomever she or he may be, to know that I truly appreciated their invention and look forward to burritos throughout eternity.
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The burrito is similar to most other breakfast burritos in that it contains eggs, another protein, cheese and seasonings. In this particular case, McLain’s includes sausage, eggs, pepper jack cheese, red potatoes, and serrano sauce. In my opinion, the eggs of a breakfast burrito are the most important part to get right. The eggs need to provide a firm base to support all of the other flavors, but should not be the main event. Runny or stiff eggs have a tendency to ruin the experience (if you would like to experience runny/stiff eggs I would send you to my office cafeteria). If you would like to experience eggs done properly, I would send you to McLain’s.

The potatoes in the burrito provide a very nice additional texture to the dish. The potatoes themselves are seasoned well and properly cooked. They are tender to the tooth but are not mushy or grainy. They help support the eggs in their job of providing a background for the more flavorful components.

The other ingredients provided quite a kick. I assume the sausage is regular pork sausage and it is quite good, although there could have been a little more. The pepper jack and the serrano sauce were also flavorful and added a bit of heat to the burrito. I would imagine that many folks might consider it extremely spicy, but I felt it had just enough heat. The spice made for an adventurous breakfast. Paired with hot coffee you will want to have another beverage at the ready. Something like orange juice and/or water, which is what I did.

I would be remiss though in not mentioning that the restaurant had a strange odor. To me it seemed like a residual fragrance from the gas station; Jared had a more colorful description for it (See butt smell above). The staff suggested that it was something odd about that morning, so we must head back sometime soon to check it out.

Pepper Jack Burrito – $6.60

Overall: McLain’s is an excellent place to grab a breakfast. The seating was a little uncomfortable for our long breakfast sessions, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most. Especially if you are in a rush. The staff is friendly and quick to help. McLain’s has the type of atmosphere that puts you in a good mood.  If the strange odor was a one time problem, McLain’s could become a mainstay in anybody’s breakfast rotation.

Grade:
Brent –
McLain’s has my hearty recommendation, 3 out of 5 stars. If the odor disappears on our next visit I will give them 3.5 to 4 stars

Jared – McLain’s has the stuff to be great. I will have to give it a C+ if the odor persists.  Possibly an A- if we went at a bad time.

Expect an update from us soon!

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

 

 

 

Panclog #29: Wooden Spoon

Spooning at the Spoon

October 21st, 2016

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The Wooden Spoon is a family-owned breakfast-lunch spot across the street from Johnson County Community College.  It does not have any website, but a simple Facebook page.

Location/Environment:  The Wooden Spoon is a quaint little restaurant on the corner of College Blvd. and Quivira in Overland Park, KS. When I say little, I mean it. The dining area is tightly packed with 8 or 9 different tables that makes it a bit of a challenge to maneuver around. The décor is nothing to get excited about either. What you can expect is good food and a delightful staff. The door opens promptly at 7.

Service:  Perhaps the best feature of The Wooden Spoon is how easy it is to sit back and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. A Panclog breakfast typically lasts a couple of hours and we can sometimes feel the desire of the staff to flip the table for a waiting customer. I can easily say the staff at the Spoon doesn’t seem to mind. The staff seems as interested as we are in having a leisurely morning and enjoying the time as it slowly ticks away.

Wait time for food: 15 minutes

Menu/Selection: The menu at The Wooden Spoon isn’t as extensive as many other places, but, what they do have they do well.  Prices are also quite reasonable.

Food: 

Egg Croissant Sandwich & Single Hash Brown Casserole (Brentley)

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I have recently settled on the Egg Croissant Sandwich the past few times we have been there. The sandwich comes with scrambled eggs, your choice of bacon or sausage, and cheddar cheese. I am sure you can order your egg cooked differently should you desire it. It may sound sacrilegious to order sausage over bacon, but that is what I prefer. I feel that the larger piece of sausage balances with the eggs better. To top it all off you get a toasted, buttery croissant to act as the bread for the sandwich.

I love croissants, they are one of my favorite pastries. The downside to a croissant is that they can be dusty, leaving crumbs everywhere.  When toasted, the outer layers become much more brittle increasing the crumb to shirt ratio.

Like I said, the sandwich is terrific, although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a couple of times the edges of the croissant have been burned. Not a big deal to me, but it is something to be aware of.

The Wooden Spoon also offers a Hash Brown Casserole that can be ordered as a side. The casserole is offered in two configurations: meat and vegetarian. I have not had the vegetarian so I cannot comment on what it is like. However, the meat version of the casserole has bits of bacon and sausage in it which significantly impacts the flavor of the dish. The casserole is always served steaming hot, so tread carefully when your food is delivered.

The coffee is simple and good, with a very large pot sitting next to the cash register. None of the employees seem to mind if you get up and refill your cup yourself. Which is just as nice as having a carafe of coffee at the table. Being able to have consistent access to coffee makes it much easier to sit back and relax with your breakfast buddies.

Egg Croissant Sandwich with Sausage and Cheddar – $4.99

Single Hash Brown Casserole with Meat – $3.99

Coffee – $1.99

Double Burrito and Single Hash Brown Casserole  (Jared)

 

A wooden spoon is something every kitchen should have. If your wooden spoon isn’t slightly burnt from leaving it in the mac & cheese pan, then you aren’t living right.

The Wooden Spoon is a place that you are almost guaranteed to see the same patrons every time you go. This is a great sign when searching for a family-style restaurant environment that makes you feel at home.  The owner/operators are a lovely couple that open the store every morning.  I have been able to enjoy many of the options on the menu, from the egg bacon panwich to the sometimes special french toast.

I am always shocked at how short the menu is.  I have been bombarded with novel-sized menus as of late.  Have you ever been to the Cheesecake Factory? That menu would take days to read if you are as slow at reading as I.

Breakfast burritos have recently been classified, by myself, as heavenly.  Which means  God has claimed the breakfast burrito as his own special breakfast item.  Is anything better than the lovely carb-laden tortilla wrapped around warm eggs, sausage, and pico de gallo? Sorry, the answer is a hearty no.  Wooden Spoon’s burritos come split in half. This simple cut brings these burritos into a special club of foods that come in pairs and need to be savored.  Oh who is in that club you ask? Maybe you have heard of a couple of them. Reese’s PB Cups? Yeah. Swiss Cake Rolls? Yep. Nutty Buddies? Oh yeah.  Oh wait, these are all sweets.  I mean of course they are sweets. Which means, um, that they need to be savored.  Yeah.  That is what I am saying about these burritos.  You should know that the breakfast burritos come dry and then you add the salsa of your choosing to give some moisture.  Very very tasty.

Let’s start talking about casseroles.  Casseroles sound like something your 84 year old grandmother is going to “slip into the oven for you kids.”  Yeah not too appetizing.  They also make me think of the name Cassie.  I knew a girl named Cassie once.  I am almost certain that her full name was Cassandra. But wouldn’t you like her more if her full name was Casserole? Maybe her parents fell in love over a casserole at their favorite granny-ran diner.  I think more people need to be named after their parents favorite food.  I am naming my third child Cereal Sova.  How amazing would that be?  That kid is going to be a great person.

The hash brown casserole at The Wooden Spoon is something that will attempt to change your perception of casseroles.  It is full of cheese, breadcrumbs, meat and hash browns.  The hash browns, although finished in an oven or salamander, still have the greasy taste of the griddle.  Although the casseroles may come out a little dry, a little salsa or hot sauce will bring the cassie to life.

Double Burrito: $5.49
Single Hash Brown Casserole: $3.49
Coffee: $1.49

Overall: All in all, I am happy that it is one of our regular haunts and look forward to dining there many times again. You all should come and join us there some time.

Grade: 

Jared: I do declare that The Wooden Spoon will receive a B- grade

Brent: I give The Wooden Spoon 4 out of 5 stars.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can follow Jared and Brent on Twitter.

Panclog #Special Edition: Pancake Procedure

The Panclog Pals would love to greet you with a long firm handshake and a gentle pat on the back.  This is a special editorial edition of the Panclog.  We will be discussing the different ways we top our pancakes.  Please keep an open mind and do not send hate mail to Brent.  He is a sensitive individual.  We have a lot of fun things planned for the next couple of months. Buckle up. this will be a heck of a ride.

We will be back next Thursday, October 13th with a new biweekly segment.  PUT IT ON THE CALENDER, SIRI!

Here we go, diving into the surprisingly controversial topic of pancake toppings.

SYRUP IS FOR CHAMPIONS!

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The Setting: The classic IHOP at 119th and Strang Line in Olathe.
The Meal: $1 short stack with all proceeds going to No Kid Hungry
The Feud: Syrup V. Jelly

IHOP is possibly the perfect host for any challenge featuring pancakes.  This is due to the fantastic nature of the pure consistency that IHOP encapsulates. If you want a good basic pancakes. Look no further than the house that is international and has pancakes.

 

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Syrup is the blood of all breakfast treats. Be it French toast, waffles, Dutch babies, or the almighty flapjack.  Syrup keeps the engine that is the classic breakfast industry running.  Not just any syrup, but pure maple syrup. I prefer a nice medium amber that brings a much more complex flavor to the table.  I try to avoid the overly sweet nature that is high-fructose corn syrup based.  Here is a quick hint: If you don’t like the corn based syrups but don’t have the maple goodness? Try honey.  Honey is a great substitute and will give you a big smile. Ask a bear. It will agree.

Shall we take a walk to the wild side and discuss jelly as a topping for pancakes? No

I just heard that there is such a thing as maple syrup that has been barrel-aged.  Yeah that is a thing! Let us all celebrate Christmas a little early.  Treat yo self.

Back to jelly. Jelly is fine on toast, good on a sandwich, and so much better on a biscuit.  But jelly on a pancake is just a waste of a good pancake.  We used Smuckers individual-serve jelly on the table.  This was just a bad start.  It was too thin and when spread looked bland.  I will say that due to the insufficient amount of jelly used, the cake itself was given much more room to shine in its own right.  I strive to give a plain pancake a shot every time I try a new place.  The basic cake needs to be good before you ever try to take it up a notch with additional flavors.

Now let’s point out that pancakes are fickle little treats.  If you over-cook them at all they can get a little crispy.  I am not complaining, only stating that crispiness is a possibility with pancakes and nearly a certainty with waffles.  Syrup is not only used as a flavor maker but as a softener in these cases.  Syrup can also serve as safety equipment.  Think about Cap’n Crunch. Very crunchy. Some say that the Cap’n attacks the roof of their mouth with great anger.  But with some milk this cereal softens enough to not only be safe, but delicious.  Syrup does the same thing!!! SAFETY!

Let’s talk about this like adults. If Syrup V. Jelly was a movie, it would not end with a dumb coalition of syrup, jelly, peanut butter, and cinnastack goo getting together to fight crime.  The film would end with Syrup standing on a mountain howling to the night sky in victorious fashion.   Someone please make this movie.

I do believe that jelly can be involved in breakfast. But please only use it in a guest starring role. Syrup is the star. Be nice to her.

 

Here is Brent’s side of the story!

Panclog Special Edition – Jelly is Not Just for Sandwiches

About 37 years ago I was introduced to a different way of consuming pancakes in Ms. Martin’s kindergarten class. At the time I didn’t realize it would be such a life changing event. Ms. Martin, a sublime individual, graced her class with a treat of pancakes. My fellow classmates and I dutifully queued up as she prepared the pancakes, one cake for each student. As my turn neared, I heard her offer butter or jelly as a topping. Perplexed by the suggestion, who would put jelly on a pancake, I just selected butter. My little 5-year-old mind just couldn’t process jelly for anything but PB&J.

This story could have ended there. The early morning sun flashing through the classroom windows warming the faces of delighted children. All of whom consumed their cakes with beatific smiles.

“I have some leftover batter. Would any of you like a half pancake?” Have sweeter words ever been spoken. Ramming the cake in my mouth I ran as fast as I could to the front of the line to partake of another cake.

“Before you take your additional half, you need to get the other topping. If you had butter before, you get jelly now. If you had jelly before, you get butter now.” I didn’t recognize the wisdom hidden in Ms. Martin’s words then, but I am surely grateful now.

Ms. Martin, you changed my life. Your insight is as important as the Great Awakening.

* * * * *

Reaching for the syrup when a fine stack of flapjacks is set before you, is perfectly understandable. It is what most people’s fathers did, and their fathers, and their fathers before them. Individuals grab the syrup out of mindless habit, and mere tradition. Never do we question is this the right thing to do. Is it the most optimal solution to add the necessary sweet, tasty, goodness to pancakes? Why question the reality that we sheepishly follow? “That’s right sir, add syrup to my pancakes! Maple only please.”

To paraphrase a great scholar, “The unexamined pancake dressing, is a meal not worth having.” Breakfast, especially pancakes, is a meal worth having. Thus it is imperative that we begin an investigation.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Canada. Maple syrup originates in Canada and it is a significant part of Canada’s plan to control the minds of their neighbors to the south. Have you ever wondered why the Canadian stereotype is an absurd level of politeness and apologies? It is because the entire nation is wracked with a subconscious, seething guilt. There can be no other explanation because no people group can be that nice.

As we are sleeping in a syrupy, sugar induced coma the people of Canada will rain down upon us, their US neighbor, and take over. 75% of the Canadian population has already massed along the US border. It is only a matter of time.

Jelly, on the other hand, is not a tool used by a conquering nation. It is simply a natural treat whose only purpose is to bolster the consumer. To help him or her to look at life through a positive, jelly filled lens.

* * * * *

You also don’t hear about Santa’s belly shaking like a bowl full of syrup. That line would have to be morphed into something like, “Santa’s laugh oozed out of him like a bottle full of syrup.” It may just be me, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. “Hey kids, it’s time to go to bed so that Santa can ooze through the cracks and deliver his sticky gifts.”

“Hey daddy, tell me about Syrupy Santa Claus.” “Well he is just like red cream soda spilled on the floor, that hasn’t been cleaned up, and isn’t quite dry yet. I can’t wait till morning so that we can step in him and have our socks stick to the floor.”

“Honey, will you tell the dog to stop licking up Santa. This is what happened last year and we got put on the naughty list.”

Friends, stay off the naughty list and enjoy jelly on your pancakes.

Merry Christmas!

* * * * *

Syrup also has a deleterious effect on the structural integrity of a pancake. Comparing the two fluids, Syrup and Jelly, you will find that syrup has a more uniform, but lower total viscosity. This is important because syrup will leach its way into the pores of the pancake and break down the infrastructure holding the cake together. Eventually you will return the pancake back to its liquid, precooked state. You could have saved time, money, effort, and energy by skipping the cooking process and drinking the batter. The next time you head on over to your favorite pancake place just ask the server, “I would like a tall stack of pancake batter, poured into a glass, and served with a straw. I will take some melted butter and warm syrup on the side.”

Jelly on the other hand does not cause a pancake to lose its internal fortitude. While it’s true that some parts of the jelly will gently fill the innumerable pores of a pancake, it will not wreak havoc on the subtle structure holding the cake together. In fact, as you cut into the flapjacks you are certain to notice that they remain sturdy and pleasing to the palate. You will also notice that the more solid portions of the jelly will spread evenly across the top of your cake mingling with the butter in a delicate dance that not only tastes remarkable but is a symphony for the eyes.

Pancakes are an amazing treat made of all that is good in this world, but only if they are allowed to retain their unique qualities. Syrup stamps out that uniqueness. So let’s let pancakes be pancakes, and dress them in jelly.

* * * * *

Jelly is also much more flavorful meaning that you can do more with jelly using less material. This good for your pocketbook, and better for the environment. Plus, jelly is a much more versatile ingredient, instead of the one trick pony that is maple syrup. Sure you are seeing syrup pushed into more and more products, but I would point you back to our soon to be Canadian overlords for the reason why.

If you call yourself a patriot who loves their country, there can be only one choice, Jelly.

 

Note from Jared: Buy Vermont maple syrup if you are scared because of this man’s fear-mongering.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter

You can follow Jared and Brent on Twitter.

Panclog #28: Pegah’s Family Restaurant

Punks picnic at Pegah’s
July 28th, 2016
peggy

 

Pegah’s Family Restaurant is a Kansas City based diner with 3 locations.  We visited the Shawnee location at Johnson Drive and Nieman.  You can peruse their website right here. Pegah’s is open 6:30 AM – 8:00 PM everyday.

Location/Environment: The Shawnee location of Pegah’s is right down the street from my house.  This tends to be my pick whenever I am choosing the venue of the week’s Breakfast Buddies convention.  It allows me to wake up about 8 minutes before our rendezvous time.  The environment is a standard American diner.  I would not place it in the “greasy” category nor in the “fancy” category either.  Pegah’s features traditional booth seating.

Service: Service was just lovely.  We were seated right when we arrived.  Then the coffee was brought immediately after.  Our server was quite attentive. She took our order and kept the coffee pouring.  I can not tell you how much I love when a server legitimately gives out recommendations.  It means they are taking some interest in their job.  So all servers, do that!

Wait time for food: 13 minutes

Menu/Selection: Because Pegah’s is open all day, they have everything from waffles to grilled beef liver.  So they have it all.  Pegah’s is not a restaurant that will blow you away with all their different types of omelettes and pancakes.  They strive to have a little bit of everything and be good at it.

Food: 

Combo Breakfast (Brentley)

 

Overcoming several scheduling conflicts, we were finally able to make it out to Pegah’s Family Restaurant to Panclog. Ordinarily scheduling isn’t an issue, however, this time we invited the King of Shawnee, KS to join us. He was kind enough to step down to our level and join us for breakfast. I truly felt blessed that the king opted to breakfast with the plebeians. At Pegah’s we were able to experience all that is great about the Panclog, from friendly conversation to good food.

Pegah’s is a simple diner that can be found in the downtown Shawnee area. The restaurant, while showing some age, is clean and inviting. The wait staff is friendly and usually quick to serve. Although this time we had an odd experience. Not long after finishing our meal, coffee service seemed to end. We, Jared and I, hung around for another 45 minutes or so talking, and it wasn’t until the end of that conversation did the coffee service start up again. I’m not sure if this is a problem, perhaps the staff assumed that since one of our group had left, that we would soon follow, causing a little confusion. I am glad the situation got rectified.

This leads me to a public service announcement: We Breakfast Buddies always overstay our welcome, in a good way. So please keep the coffee coming.

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I had the combo breakfast which included biscuits and gravy, eggs (scrambled), and a sausage patty. There was nothing earth shattering here. The biscuits and gravy was good. The gravy could have been a touch creamier and could have included more sausage. I was also hoping for a little more kick to it. That being said, the B&G was fine.

The eggs were cooked well although they needed additional seasoning at the table. Speaking of scrambled eggs in general, I wish that restaurants would put a little more effort into them. I prefer eggs to lighter and fluffier which I think can be accomplished by whisking them more vigorously. To me, seeing pockets of egg whites shows an egg that will not be able to live up to its very best.

Much to my daughter’s chagrin, I opted to have sausage instead of bacon. I can feel the disappointment brewing on her face. Pegah’s sausage was good but not great. It is indicative of the restaurant on the whole. I do enjoy Pegah’s a great deal and I am always happy to show up. It is a restaurant built around comfort. Just don’t expect to be totally blown away.

Yes, I do plan on going back. Pegah’s should find its way into anyone’s regular breakfast rotation.

Combo Breakfast: $8.95

Coffee: $2.49

Malted Waffle and Eggs  (Jared)

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If you read Brent’s fantastic review above, you may have read an interesting piece of information that we planned a special guest for this edition of the Panclog! We dined with the “King of Shawnee.”  I will keep his true identity a secret for now.  I am deeply saddened that he was unable to grace my inbox with some deep royal wisdom about Pegah’s.

Pegah’s is a lovely diner with an even lovelier staff.  If you aren’t entirely pleased by the food, I think you will still come back for the kind service.  Now let’s talk about some food.

I enjoyed my first malted waffle at this here diner.  I was so confused by the name. Did it have malt liquor in it?  I did some quick research at my local library and discovered malted waffles have malted milk powder in it.  That is the fancy ingredient that changes its name.  I would have to say that it keeps the guts of the more moist with a more creamy mouthfeel.  I truly enjoyed this waffle.  I would have asked for another one if I was a bigger man.  Is that a pun?  Don’t tell FlapJack but i enjoy a nice break from the floppiness of pancakes sometimes.  Waffles have such nice structure and the pockets keep butter and syrup so nicely blended.  Also watch Blended.  it is a fine film.  It even features my favorite actor.

Waffles can also have a bad side.  A side that is just slightly overdone that it will become crisp and dangerous to cut.  Overdone waffle flakes can become a shiv in no time.  On the other hand, underdone waffles are just pancakes with some lines in it.  The waffle at Pegah’s was just right.  It just crisp enough.

Eggs are such an exciting food that can be cooked in so many different ways.  In the last couple of years, I have been switching my egg preference every time I order them.  This visit I landed on overhard.  It turns out when the yolk is so cooked I need something to season the eggs.  Usually the yolk can be enough for me.  Eggs are good.  Try them.  Did you know soft-boiled is a thing? Weird.

Malted Waffle: $5.95
2 Eggs: $3.98
Coffee: $2.49

Overall: Pegah’s Family Restaurant is just that. A restaurant that will make you feel like family.  It will not blow you away with the quality of cuisine.

Grade: 

Jared: 56.5 out of 73 made-up points.  Or a C+

Brent: 3 out of 5 stars – a solid C

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitteror thepanclog@gmail.com

You can follow Jared and Brent on Twitter.

Panclog #26: Savannah is in Georgia

Panclog – Presidents’ Quarters Inn
I hope you like Spanish Moss.
Vester
To celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, my blushing bride and I headed down to Savannah, GA, sans children. I’m not exactly sure why we chose Savannah, other than the fact that I had travelled there for business in the past and that it seemed to be a pretty cool city. Nonetheless, I was pretty certain my wife would like the location and have a wonderful time. But, to be truthful, we could have gone anywhere and we would have had a great time, again, the kids were not coming with us. A lot of time had passed since she and I had taken vacation together and this trip was long overdue. My fellow panclogger and his wife were kind enough to watch our children, all of whom are teenagers, in what was certainly a most arduous and terrifying task.
Savannah, GA is a terrific city with tons of history, beautiful squares, interesting shops, and remarkable streets and buildings. We spent nearly our entire time in the historic district which has very strict rules on how the facades of buildings should appear. Within these strict guidelines however, every building seems to have its own unique character. When visiting a new place my wife and I always seem to get into a discussion on whether or not we could live there. We will even go so far as to look for “for sale” signs, and check websites for realty listings. We determined pretty quickly that we could live in Savannah. I’m sure my fellow panclogger would love to take over parenting of our children.
Pressies

The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at is named “Presidents’ Quarters Inn”. It is located closer to the river side of the historic district rather than the middle. Don’t let that concern you as the historic district is roughly 2.2 miles square making it easy to walk the entire area. While the inn is right in the thick of the historic district it is nestled into a nook that feels very private and separate from the rest of the area. The inn has a large variety of rooms roughly ranging in price from $189-$325 per night (prices do vary depending upon season). Each room is named after a president; we ended up staying in the Nixon and Monroe rooms.

The inn is quite cozy and the staff is incredibly helpful and nice. Each member of staff was quick with a greeting, and more than willing to help with any questions. They also provide great suggestions for places to eat and activities to do in the area. The inn offers wine and hors d’oeuvre every day from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, an amenity we took advantage of. During our stay the inn offered Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. All were quite good. The hors d’oeuvres offered each day were different. While we were there the hors d’oeuvres included crackers with a flavored spread, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, and peppered salami. Coffee and various juices are available throughout the morning. They also offer Sherry, a fortified wine, starting sometime during the afternoon and is available till late evening.

Like any bed and breakfast the Presidents’ Quarters offered breakfast for guests every day. Breakfast is served in blocks of time every half hour. Presidents’ Quarters provides two breakfast options each day. The evening before you just need to check in with some member of the hotel staff and let them know what time you would like to be down for breakfast and what breakfast option you would be selecting.
Option 1 for breakfast is the Continental. Its contents are the same every morning with a granola cereal, muffin, fruit yogurt, and a large fruit cup. That isn’t to say that what is served is the same every day. The dried fruit and flavoring of the granola will vary, as will the kind of muffin, and type of yogurt. I ended up selecting this option twice during our stay
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Option 2 for breakfast is the chef’s special, which alternates between a sweet and savory option every day. I also selected the chef’s special on two different days.

On the first day Bananas Foster French Toast was served, along with some oranges, and sausage patties. The French toast itself was quite thick, with a crispiness to the edges that opened up to a softer center. The toast soaked up the syrupy glaze from the bananas foster topping which was very sweet. Without the sausage on the side and the black coffee in the cup, the sweetness of the French toast would have been overwhelming. In any case, I really enjoyed this breakfast.
FT

Oh, by the way, that is a huge dollop of whip cream on top.

The second chef’s special I had was the Orange Ricotta Pancakes with a side of Applewood smoked bacon. The bacon was fantastic and was cooked perfectly to my taste. The pancakes were quite good, but subtler than I expected. I guess I expected the cakes to be more over the top given the bananas foster experience. I also wasn’t sure how the ricotta was going to go over. The ricotta’s only affect was to make the pancakes seem creamier than normal. The pancakes tasted just like normal flapjacks with just the slightest hint of orange. You almost had to be looking for the flavor. As the cakes came adorned with powdered sugar and whip cream, there was no need to add jelly to the top.
Pancakes
Overall I would give the breakfasts 4 out of 5 stars.

In regard to the B&B we would return to the Presidents’ Quarters Inn without a second thought. The entire experience is well done and the staff should be commended. At your next opportunity book a room, or two, or three, and get on down there.

Panclog #25: Ginger Sue’s

Surely Sweet with the Sue
May 11th, 2016
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Ginger Sue’s is a bruncheonette that has 3 locations in Kansas City; the original in Liberty, the second in Lee’s Summit, and the one we frequent in Olathe, KS. Ginger Sue’s is open daily, 6:30 AM – 2:30 PM. Throw them a like if you care to.

I would like to note that this location is sadly located in the same storefront of the 3rd ever Panclog spot, 119th Street Diner. Please check out that wonderful review and enjoy the baby photo of Stephen and I.

Location/Environment: The Olathe location of Ginger Sue’s is less than a minute away from Brent Morgan’s home.  This makes Ginger an obvious choice to host many a #BreakfastBuddies meetings.  The environment is clean and simple. There are more tables than built-in booths.I believe that this gives a restaurant a more sleek and crisp feel.  The music was fantasticly fitting to the rainy morning that it was.  Ginger Sue’s makes a great first impression and is cut from similar cloth to First Watch. The restaurant is bright, open, and inviting.

Service: Service at Ginger Sue’s is excellent. It has been noticed on many occasions that they like to staff pretty heavily in the mornings. Servers tent to be quick and attentive no matter how busy they are. The church rush and families eating Saturday brunches do not slow the servers down.

Wait time for food: 13 minutes

Menu/Selection: Ginger Sue’s serves breakfast and lunch very well.  We all know which menu is the more important of the two. Breakfast > Lunch. Sometimes you have to include a lunch menu for people who don’t have the guts to eat breakfast food at every meal.

Ginger Sue’s has daily specials.  These specials aren’t really publicized any where in the restaurant.  These specials are recited to you by the server.  You may see a review of a special later on in this very Panclog.

Food: 

Belgian Waffle with Bacon (Brentley)

“You need to be very careful. You are already on thin ice.”

I heard these chilling words as I kissed my blushing bride as I prepared to leave for Ginger Sue’s. It seems that I did not properly reset the alarm in the morning and it went off a few additional times whilst I took care of my morning ablutions. In our home, we do not wake my beloved before she is ready. Her eyes must open naturally or there will be ugly times ahead.

It is at times like these that I begin uttering selfish prayers. “Please Lord, cause my children or some innocent bystander to do something that will draw my wife’s ire. Otherwise I fear that my world will crash around me.”

With fear and trepidation, I wandered over to Ginger Sue’s for the Panclog. A place that was certain to provide some calm before the storm.

Ginger Sue’s Olathe location is very close to my home, which makes it a place that I like to frequent fairly often. Ginger Sue’s has even made it into the regular rotation for the Cloggers. We Cloggers go to breakfast about once a week – consider this an open invitation to join us.

The food at Ginger Sue’s is fresh and well prepared. This restaurant is definitely not a greasy spoon. For this Panclog I ordered the Belgian Waffle with an a la carte side of bacon.
Vaffle

The waffle was light and airy. I am not entirely sure why, but I gravitate to the waffle served at Ginger Sue’s pretty regularly. Perhaps it is the berry compote that is served with the waffle of which I am a huge fan.

Ginger serves a peppered bacon that is pretty good too. Although it may not be to everyone’s taste.

The coffee at Ginger Sue’s is usually quite good. However, on this fateful morning it seemed off. Also, Ginger Sue’s does not provide a carafe for the table, which is something I am beginning to prefer.

Speaking of music, give the band, BABYMETAL, a listen. The group is fronted by three Japanese, teenaged girls who sing well. What makes this group interesting is the band behind the singers plays a speed metal sound while the singers come over top with J-Pop vocals. The juxtaposition of these two styles mixes well and it is just weird. I would recommend starting with their songs, “Karate”, and “Gimme Chocolate”.

For those still wondering, I did survive the day when I inadvertently woke my spouse. I just happen to be an inch shorter now.

Waffle: $5.25
Bacon: $3.00
Coffee: $2.25

Aloha Awakea Omelette and Pancake of the Day  (Jared)

 

Ginger Sue’s is a gem in the breakfast world.  At first, I wanted to not like this place as much as I enjoyed 119th Street Diner.  The sour cream pancakes are still a focal point of my mouth’s dreams. I can not forget the good times I had beginning this fine blog.  So when I come across a breakfast spot that now inhabits something I used to enjoy, I start to worry that something nice has become desecrated.  After the first breakfast burrito, then peanut butter and banana pancakes and then the aforementioned aloha awakea omelette, I knew that Ginger didn’t ruin anything of my past. She made it better.

Omelettes are eggs with stuff in it. Sounds simple. I have personally ruined at least eleventy egg dishes.  I have not learned the art of balance of flavors when it comes to sharing egg flavor.  I always think more is a good thing. I find myself thinking, “Brisket is good. A pound of brisket should be enough for a 4 egg omelette.” Turns out I am wrong.  That is the near mythical amount of too much brisket.

The Aloha Awakea Omelette is a tasty concoction of egg, ham, pineapple, cheddar-jack cheese, and toasted coconut on top. I can not state how beautiful it is when salty and sweet come together. Be it salted caramel lattes from Starbucks, potato chips covered in chocolate, or ham and pineapple together. 5 out of 7 tongues agree that salty and sweet is meant to be. Please try this and tell Brent how much you loved it.  Mr. Morgan can not  have pineapple unless he wants to take an expensive trip to the emergency room.

The omelette came with some breakfast potatoes. These were some of the most delicious breakfast potatoes that I have ever experienced.  They were seasoned wonderfully and then cooked to the crispiness that you have always heard about but have never experienced.  I want more.

Now to the reveal of the Pancake of the Day. Firstly we have the buttermilk pancake base.  A classic beginning to many pancakes masterpieces.
Secondly, we add apple cinnamon. A normal addition. Dr. Jared Söva of BSI Breakfast Studies Inc. explains “Carbohydrates love to be connected to the natural sugars that fruit possesses.”  I can not deny that I truly agree with that doctor. The most common addition to pancakes is a fruit flavor. The cinnamon is there to refresh the mouth with some spice.
Next we add bacon.  Because bacon. Do we need any other reason.
Lastly we add goat cheese. WAIT WHAT? Goat cheese!?! In a pancake?  CHEESE?? Oh cheese? That tasty stuff that you peel from a stick during lunch? But from a cute little goat. perhaps from a goat like this. The goat cheese gives the pancakes some tartness that will bring the magic of this pancake of the day together.

Altogether I would gladly get this pancake again.  Savory pancakes are a necessity in a life like mine.  I am surrounded by sweet things so much that I need a break.

The prices are very standard to the brunch industry.  I will be coming back. And I hope to one day meet Ginger. The pancakes are quite something special.  They are large and in charge.  If you don’t like pancakes.  Try the omelettes.  They are infinitely better than any egg dish that I can make you.

Aloha Awakea Omelette: $7.75
Pancake of the Day: $3.00
Coffee: $2.25

Overall: I would highly recommend paying Ginger a visit. Enjoy her breakfast and her nice mix of music.

Grade: 

Jared: A

Brent: 4.5/ 5 stars or B-

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitteror thepanclog@gmail.com

You can follow Jared and Brent on Twitter.

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