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Archive for the tag “Breakfast”

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:

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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 #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 #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.

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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!

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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.

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Panclog #28: Pegah’s Family Restaurant

Punks picnic at Pegah’s
July 28th, 2016
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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

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