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Archive for the tag “Breakfast”

Panclog #43: The Shack

“And that’s how I beat The Shack” – Aaron Carter


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Happy 2019 breakfast buddies, panclog pals, british biscuits. Panclog is back to review Kansas City’s finest breakfast spots. Today we will be discussing the hottest new bruncherie in town, The Shack.

The Shack began as a St. Louis based company. They had 5 St. Louis metro locations before taking the jump into Kansas in 2018. The Shack’s 2 Overland Park locations are at 135th and 69 highway and College Blvd and Metcalf Ave. The Shack is open from 6:30 – 2 PM everyday.    Your trustworthy pancloggers have visited both, but will be reviewing the College and Metcalf locale.

Location/Environment: The College and Metcalf location is a prime location for Brentles. His office is right across the street. But it’s not only prime for the panclog crew. It is located at a busy intersection that will keep new customers aplenty.

The environment is welcoming. The walls are a dark shiplap design. These walls are adorned with customer’s kind messages and signatures all done in sharpie. It creates an ease that customers are welcome here.

Service: The service at The Shack was good. Quick prompt seating. Coffee stayed full. They truly push the giving back to the community aspect of the business.  I think this is not only smart ethically, but financially.  Customers like to do good things without doing much. If they are able to order a delicious meal with some portion of the bill going to a charity, then it is a delicious win-win. Here is The Shack’s community donations. More on the fancy charity menu items in the next section.

Menu/Selection: The Shack is a fairly typical upscale bruncherie but with an expansive breakfast entree menu. It is rare to see many plates that are unique for a brunch spot. They also have a lovely lunch menu, though we haven’t tried it, whenever I see a boozy shake on a menu I get a nice mischievous  grin on my face. Check these menus out: Breakfast & Lunch.

Why the French hate us (Brently)

A dark secret lurks in the auspicious history of the Panclog. A secret that concerns us greatly. A secret that we discuss carefully when in mixed company. It seems the Breakfast Buddies have a knack for closing breakfast places down. It pains us to say but we have closed several restaurants in our area, although I am sure it is purely coincidental. Perhaps the restauranteurs feel so blessed by our patronage that they feel they have reached the pinnacle of their careers and thus quietly close-up shop. At least that is the version I will stick with because I can no longer take the sleepless nights considering what we have caused in our fair city.

One such establishment happens to be right next door to my, Brent’s, office building. Le Peep, a fine, if not slightly over priced, breakfast and lunch place, became a heaping pile of smoking ash about a year ago. Disappointment does not cover how I felt about Le Peep closing this location. While the Breakfast Buddies did not frequent Le Peep often, there was a level of comfort for me knowing that breakfast was only a few steps away. I was not too broken up as there is a Panera on the other side of the strip mall that serves up a fine Ham and Swiss quiche.

Thankfully from those ashes arose a new restaurant, one that promises great breakfast food, a tongue in cheek attitude, and a barn like atmosphere. I am speaking of course of “The Shack”. I have the twice daily pleasure of walking past The Shack which allows me to check its vitals to ensure its health and wellbeing. I would hate to see it prematurely exit the neighborhood.

For the past several months this daily walk included stalking the restaurant while the space was gutted, repaired, and finished becoming a part of the larger Shack family. I am sure the construction workers grew tired of seeing this strange man peek in the windows all the time. I am also sure that all three people that I interact with on Snapchat “loved” the weekly updates as well.

The inside of the Shack is made to look like a renovated barn with shiplap walls throughout the design. It’s like Chip and Joanna Gaines’ décor dream turned nightmare. Looking at the walls you’ll notice very quickly that patrons can draw on them wherever they can reach. Keep an eye out for, “I heart panclog.com”. Most folks sign their name and date, or write something like “Joanie Loves Chachi”, but if you look for them, you will find a good joke or two. I must say I am a fan of this, especially when a clever play on words is thrown up on the wall.

The menu is large with a myriad of options, with most items having a clever name. A couple sample menu items include, “Love Me Know, Hate Me Later”, “Make a Grown Man Cry”, and “Ma…the Meatloaf.” Not every item gets a fun name though, “Country Fried Steak” for instance, which can only mean it is not very good.

On “Panclog Day” (soon to be made into a federal holiday) I opted for the “Why the French Hate Us”. The name of this dish feeds that self-loathing monster that resides in the back of my conscience. It is an item I have had a couple times now that is akin to the “Country Benedict” at the Big Biscuit, or the “Big D” at Jerry’s Original Café.

“Why the French Hate Us” begins with a toasted croissant split like a bun then loaded with two sausage links. Scrambled eggs are gently placed on top and subsequently covered in sausage gravy and cheese. Hash browns come on the side.

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The main components of the meal are quite good and pleasing to eat. The croissant is buttery, flakey and has a lovely texture. The sausage links are flavorful and robust. The scrambled eggs are light and airy and are well cooked complimenting the other elements. The gravy and cheese, while flavorful, did leave a powdery texture in my mouth though. Kind of like a gravy packet that was not completely mixed. The gravy issue did dampen the overall food experience, but not so much that I would not order it again. The hash browns are well cooked and crispy on the outside. This plate has a lot of food on it, so I recommend going in hungry if you want to make a serious dent in it.

The coffee offered by the Shack is better than most, but it is also $3 a cup as I recall. To me personally, this awfully expensive for a cup of coffee, even one with free refills. Most restaurants in the area seem to be moving toward this price point, so perhaps this is the price point that the market will bear. What it means to me is that I feel that I need to drink enough coffee till it becomes a mistake, then drink two more cups. Do not worry, Jared and I are working on a new coffee pricing scheme that will revolutionize the breakfast food industry where everyone wins.

I would give The Shack a solid B+. The food is decent, the coffee good, the experience fun. All things that add up to a positive visit.

Griddle Fling – Gingerbread Pancakes with Sausage (Jared)

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Breakfast is the finest meal of the day. My boss states, “if you say no to champagne, you say no to life.” I completely agree that the same goes for breakfast.

The Shack was a long awaited journey. Brent and I basically watched it get built day by day.  I can not describe the anticipation that builds during this construction.

The Shack did not disappoint.

The atmosphere is something to be seen.  It has a different type of flair to it.  I love any place that I can vandalize their walls without punishment.

The Shack has 2 rotating menu items. These seem to change monthly. There is The Wolf Pack and Griddle Fling. The Wold Pack seems to be a different entree item and the Griddle Fling is a specialty breakfast bread. I decided on the Griddle Fling this fine morning.  It turned out to be gingerbread pancakes.

The gingerbread pancakes had a lovely topping of not only whipped cream but also broken up gingerbread cookies. These cakes were delicious.  The cookies added a nice level of texture to the cakes.  The ramekin of syrup was the perfect amount for this short stack.

I also had a side of sausage to give this morning a bit of protein. The sausage was easily the downfall of the meal.  It was a side of two sausage patties.  It tasted like it was steamed.  This made the sausage very chewy.

Besides the chewy sausage, the whole meal was quite pleasant.  Although it needs to be said that coffee should never ever be $3.00. A wise man once told me that coffee is simply dirty water. This dirty water has turned out to be quite a necessity since my wonderful babies have been born. But please don’t make this fine dirty water beverage more than $2.50.

My recommendation of the ‘clog is The Ringer. The Ringer dot com. Great Website. It is a news/pop culture company that also is an incredible podcast empire. Sheck it out, my dudes.

Overall: The Shack is now a regular in the rotation for the breakfast buddies.  If you ever would like to join us for breakfast. Hit us up at the links below.

Grade:
Brent:  B+
Jared: A-

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #42: Savannah’s Goose Feathers

Getting Goosed @ Goose Feathers


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Did I hear you right? You wanted ANOTHER Savannah review? Well have no fear, for panclog is here! Did you forget about the last Savannah clog? Check it on out! Brent and his lovely bride, Vesta, reviewed the breakfast of the bed and breakfast where they stayed.

The Panclog Co-Creators, Stephen and Jared, decided to drag our families down to the beautifully historic, Spanish moss covered Savannah, GA.  All this to eat breakfast together.  Well also to see the ocean and relax.  But mainly the breakfast thing.

Goose Feathers Cafe opened in 1986. It popped into the panclog pals’ eyeline after a quick Bing of “Best Breakfast in Savannah.” Were we disappointed? Keep on reading and you will find out!

Location/Environment: Goose Feathers Cafe is located in the historic district of Savannah in one of the many quaint little squares that branch out away from the Savannah River. I’d have to say that Chippewa Square is the best. The environment is one that could seem a bit corporate but comes off much more as simply efficient.  Goose Feathers Cafe feels like a local staple for a quick breakfast or easy lunch.

Service: Goose Feathers Cafe’s service centers around the front counter. This is where you read the menu, order, grab necessary silverware, and pay.  Most of the staff interaction happened here with just the right amount of recommendations. A nice staff member helped us take our picture in 2 different spots.  That is dedication!

Menu/Selection: Goose Feathers Café is the place to go for simple café food. I would compare it most to a very high end Panera.  It has baked goods, tasty coffee, and meals made of oats.  The menu is here! One big plus of this café setting is the availability of a specialty brew of coffee each day.  The day we went the special was Chocolate Almond. Another plus is that this special coffee of the day is the same price of regular.

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Belgian Waffle with Bacon (Stephen)

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I’m always a fan of a counter-service breakfast joint – it delivers a nice hybrid between a standard sit-down restaurant and a more QSR-style eatery. Upon walking in, Goose Feathers instantly gives off a vibe of a local favorite. It has southern charm, both in feel and service. Employees are eager to help or offer suggestions as to what to order. And there are plenty of options for all mood.

I’ll never pass up breakfast, and this day was no exception. I ordered the standard Belgian waffle with a side of bacon and the coffee of the day: a chocolate almond flavored brew.

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We took our order number and found a roomy table that accommodated our party. I sipped from my coffee, enjoying playful banter and great company, as we waited for our food to arrive. The chocolate almond coffee was underwhelming. There was an odd dichotomy happening – the flavor was very intense but the brew was fairly weak. It came off as a standard diner coffee with a bit too much of an artificial flavor.

Food was quick to arrive. Syrup came in a single ramekin, which if you’re a syrup fiend like myself immediately sets off deep-seated anxiety. Am I going to have enough? What if I need more? What happens if I spill it? Do I have to talk to someone? Don’t fear, dear reader: it was plenty. The waffle itself delivered on exactly what you want from a Belgian waffle. Satisfyingly soft, well-balanced in flavor. Not too sweet, enough substance and a great bed for syrup and butter. The bacon was crispy, if not a tad stale, but cooked evenly.

If you go out for breakfast with a healthy appetite but don’t want to stuff yourself, I find a Belgian waffle and a protein side (bacon or sausage) is the perfectly sized meal. This was no different, delivering on the promise.

J.B. Deluxe (Jared)

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Savannah is for lovers. Not just regular lovers, Historic lovers.

Savannah is absolutely beautiful.  I literally giggled whilst in the Uber on the way to our house when I saw the Spanish moss.  I want it in my back yard. Please get me Spanish moss for Christmas.

Whenever I go on a trip, I treat a breakfast out as a MUST.  Not every day, just as much as my wallet allows. Savannah was no different.

I chose the J.B. Deluxe to enjoy this morning.  It is described as a jalapeno & cheddar waffle with gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, scallions, and more cheddar cheese.  This concoction is all topped with a Tabasco syrup. I was slightly nervous that this might be too spicy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some heat.  But sometimes my mouth simply turns into a scare-dy cat. There was no need for my anxiety.  This waffle was full of flavor and the heat, though present, wasn’t debilitating.  You may also try the jalapeno & cheddar waffle on its own if you’d prefer to not have all of the fixings.

I am sadly going to agree with Stephen in terms of the flavor of the day coffee.  The chocolate almond flavor was on the first sip but not in the fuller body of the coffee.  It was disappointing.  Although, I feel that the price point being the exact same as the standard brew, the flavor of the day is worth a shot if it sounds delicious.

I would absolutely try Goose Feathers Cafe again.  I appreciate that the prices haven’t inflated after being named one of the best breakfasts in Savannah.  It is priced more as a cafe and not as a high end bruncherie.

J.B. Deluxe: $10.95
Coffee of the day: $1.73

To sum up some other parts of our trip, We 100% Absolutely recommend Lulu’s Chocolate Bar.

I took this amazing picture (Look Down slightly) Yeah I took that picture. Chocolate martinis are a delight. Lulu’s sadly doesn’t have an all-you-can-drink option. I asked. Also lighthouses are cooler than you expect.  This lighthouse in the picture below was plaid.  That’s cool if I may say so. If you have the chance to stay in Savannah, take it.  If you have to go to Hilton Head to be able to do it, then take the sacrifice.  Not that Hilton Head is bad, it just has a very different feel. A more corporate-golf centered feel.

 

To conclude my review, please listen to this, my favorite song about orange juice.

Overall: Goose Feathers Cafe may not be the best breakfast in Savannah, but it is surely worth a try. Have a nice breakfast. Grab some pastries. Then head to the beack on Tybee Island and watch a random child catch a bird with her hands.

Grade:
Stephen:  C+
Jared: B

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Stephen.

Panclog #41: Cracker Barrel

Cracking wise about the Barrel


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G’Day mateys! Panclog is back and better than ever. We took a bit of a break.  But have no fear, for I am here to declare there will be THREE new panclogs before the year is up.  I am very excited you to enjoy them all. Today’s clog is brought to you by the roadtrip wonder, Cracker Barrel.

Location/Environment: There are 5 Cracker Barrels in the Kansas City area. The Panclog Pals went to the closest one to both of us.  This happened to be the Strang Line location in Olathe.  It is located near a large movie theatre and in the same parking lot of Heartland Church.  The first impression you receive is of a butt-load of rocking chairs on the front porch.  The second impression is of a general store that you walk into from the front door.  There are old timey items and as-seen-on-TV items.  Pretty eclectic. The dining room is very wooden cabin chic.


Service:
Service at Cracker Barrel was a breeze.  Granted the panclog pals arrived shortly after 7 AM.  The place was in old timey fashion, a ghost town.  Coffees stayed filled and plates were cleared when the mission was accomplished.

Menu/Selection: Cracker Barrel has a juggernaut of a menu.  Just check out how many different sections they have on their online menu. They have everything that you expect from a down home restaurant.  It plays out like more of a southern family restaurant than a greasy diner.  The breakfast menu is loaded with various options and choices. Like a lot of breakfast places though it seems to reconfigure the same set of 5 options in different ways to come up with differing menu items. Using the same 5 individual items, choosing 2 or 3 per plate, and you end up with two pages of breakfast choices. In my opinion, this is exactly what Cracker Barrel did with a just couple of “specials” here and there. I cannot say that there is anything wrong with this, but it does lack creativity. Something that needs to be pointed out is Cracker Barrel’s incessant need to brand their menu items. i.e. Momma’s French Toast, Grandpa’s Country Fried Breakfast, and Uncle Hershel’s Favorite. The menu does feature a beautiful phrase.  Check it out!
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Momma’s Pancake Breakfast (Brent)

The Breakfast Buddies finally made it over to a restaurant seen all across America’s highways, the Cracker Barrel. I was actually not aware that Cracker Barrel served breakfast until a few years ago when your Pancloggers decided to add the restaurant to the list of sites to clog. Up till that time I assumed that the Barrel was a lunch and dinner place only. Makes sense that the Barrel would serve breakfast given that it markets itself as classic downhome cooking.

It is the rare circumstance where I frequent the Cracker Barrel outside of a road trip. I cannot say for sure why, but the restaurant always seems to taste better after 5 or 6 hours of driving. On the rare occasion that I or my family have gone to Cracker Barrel after church for instance, I seem to have walked away slightly disappointed. The restaurant is an oasis at the midpoint of a long drive and that fact cannot be undersold.

Walking into a Cracker Barrel is a somewhat unique experience. The first thing you are confronted with is a “front porch” loaded with rocking chairs available for sale. We sat in a few of them while there and all I can say is that they are fine. Given their price I would hope that they were more comfortable. But, who buys a rocking chair on a road trip?

Immediately passing through the entry doors you are confronted with an old-timey “general store”. At least that is the goal of their marketing department: to give the patron the perception of a general store. You will find the shop loaded with various kitschy items that will make you laugh, feel warmth and comfort, and seem perfectly reasonable while you are in there. My only advice is this, don’t buy anything. You do not actually want any of this stuff. Unless of course it is a pile of candy, snacks, and puzzle books for the remainder of your road trip.

Cracker Barrel seated us immediately once we arrived at the hostess station. Upon looking at the menu I was struck with a couple thoughts, first it is big. Second, it is rustic looking, implanting the idea that this is a downhome establishment. The downside to this is the contrast between the content of the menu versus the background is not great. So I wonder if a color blind individual can easily read the menu.

I elected “Momma’s pancake breakfast” which included the combination of pancakes, choice of meat (bacon in my case), and eggs.

Bmer

Jared reminded me that I made the promise to try eggs cooked different than scrambled. So I elected for over hard. My impression is that eggs cooked over hard taste eggier than scrambled eggs. Not a bad thing of course, just something that surprised me a bit.

The bacon was quite tasty and cooked exactly like I like it. I am a fan of bacon that is crispy but still retains a little bit of give in the bite rather than the crumbly snap of overcooked bacon. Granted I will take the crumbly snap over bacon that is undercooked and floppy. Cracker Barrel did quite nicely in the bacon’s preparation.

The main item of “Momma’s Pancake Breakfast” is of course the pancakes themselves. My plate came with three cakes and one small, pat of butter that was just enough for one individual cake. I am not sure why restaurants are stingy with butter, but they I would rather they place a large amount on the side. Seeing one small, barely melting pat, sitting in the center of the top pancake bums me out a little.

By default the cakes were served with maple syrup on the side. In a nice twist, Cracker Barrel serves their maple syrup in small, airline sized, sealed bottles. This allowed me to avoid soiling my pancakes with maple syrup. I did have to ask for various jellies on the side. Speaking of jellies, Cracker Barrel only offered two options, Concord grape, and Strawberry. As everyone knows Concord grape jelly is a vile substance. I opted for the Strawberry jelly to spread on my cakes.

Cracker Barrel’s pancakes have a nice crunch on the edges which I am a fan. This crispness on the edge added a nice twist to most other breakfast places that I enjoyed a lot.

Momma’s French Toast Breakfast (Jared)

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First things first. YES I do have 2 of those mini syrups in my glove box.

Did you know that Golden Corral and Cracker Barrel are NOT the same restaurant?  I don’t know why but my mind always puts them in the same box.

I’m not saying anything negative about either, just saying my mind is a sick place that equates chocolate fountains to rocking chair city.

The past few months of breakfast buddy life has been extra full of morning joy.  I have been able to pick up my boy, Brent, dine with him, and take him to work after.  These extra moments have given me not only reason to keep my car tidy, but also a few more conversations about fantasy sports and music trivia.  I can not recommend enough the joys of driving around with friends.

Cracker Barrel is known for being the roadtrip restaurant.  They have 658 locations in 45 states.  This leads me to sharing my favorite Cracker Barrel fact.  They are known for their extensive audiobook selection.  The cool part of this audiobook selection is that you can rent these books by the week for $3.49 and return them to any Cracker Barrel.  How freaking cool is that. Another fun Cracker Barrel fact is that they have put out some albums exclusively. They are not just in food game.

Shall we chat about my dining experience? We shall.  I had Momma’s French Toast Breakfast.  It came with 2 eggs and 2 pieces of meat.  I chose sausage patties.  I used to be a sausage link guy,  but i switched teams for a few reasons I have received undercooked links at breakfast before and they are gross! I also believe that you can get seasoning throughout in patty-form. Yes patties are much more likely to be dry, but a patty done well is worth that chance. The sausage on this visit had a slight funk to them.  Not a gross taste.  I believe it was a spice mixture issue.  I should probably go back and give them another shot.

I need to point out something.

syrup

This syrup is 100% syrup.  But sadly is not 100% Maple syrup.  Once you have had the amazing complexities of pure maple syrup, you shake your head gently at anything beneath it.

My French Toast was standard.  Not too egg-y. Not too bread-y. It was right down the middle.  I will say it was on the griddle for the perfect amount of time.  It wasn’t crispy nor overly moist.  Cracker Barrel seems to have a few signature latte drinks on their menu.  My mother has been craving them since she heard about them.  I now know where she and I will be having a meal next time we hang out.

Cracker Barrel serves breakfast all day. Please call your senator, representative and local government officials and ask them all to make it law that breakfast be an all day affair.

I am thankful for everyone who took time to read this.  This is your gift.

Overall: Cracker Barrel is a beautiful roadtrip oasis.  Outside of travel, the restaurant struggles to hold the same appeal.

Grade:
Brent: Don’t take the negatives too seriously though, Cracker Barrel’s breakfast is fine. I wouldn’t put the Barrel in the regular rotation but I would not refuse someone who suggests it. Cracker Barrel earns a C-.
Jared: C- is the perfect rating for CB.

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #40: Original Cafe

Orating about Original Cafe
June 21st, 2018

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

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


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

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

Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs (Jared)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coffee: $2.29
Chicken Fried Steak: $9.99

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

Stuffed French Toast (Brenter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Send recommendations and feedback to the Panclog’s Twitter.

You can also follow Jared and Brent.

Panclog #39: Ronnie’s Restaurant

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

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

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

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


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

Wait for food: 8 minutes.

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

The King waffle with a side of sausage (Jared)

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Baseball, Breakfast, and Buddies.

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

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

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

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

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

Stuffed French Toast (Brenter)

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

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

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

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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.

 

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