Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category
I’ve been on a mission to have weekend breakfasts at rural locations in Illinois, and today we hit the Pub 72 Bar & Grill in Gilberts, IL. The “72” is after the number of the highway, and if memory serves me, is a rather new name. Not sure if the change also represented a change in ownership.
The place has a menu with “something for everything” whether you’re in the mood for plate dinners, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza, or adult beverage drink specials.
They serve a VERY economical breakfast (beginning at $2.99) on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM.
This is one of those joints were seemingly every employee took a course in what being in the hospitality business truly means. You’re almost always greeted by the owner when you walk in, a guy who doesn’t think so much of himself that it would be beneath him to walk around, refill coffees, inquire to customers satisfaction, and be observant enough to notice patrons that need attention. Superb. Rare qualities in most smaller places these days.
Serving help was equally affable, smiles all around, diligent order taking, great follow-up. By 9:30, the place was pretty busy with Sunday morning diners.
I had ham steak and eggs, great piece of ham with a nice grill char on it, just the way I like it. And a slice of Texas toast. As is the fashion at small diners in Illinois, a bowl of butter pats grazes each table. Eggs cooked precisely as ordered.
Hash browns are above average too.
I’ll be back. You should check them out if you live in the area, or are tooling down I-90 some day.
Pub 72 Review
I’ve never been much for “brown and serve” type breakfast sausages; to me, they have always represented one of the main components of civic group and church pancake breakfasts, huge chafing trays of the little pork links.
But it’s hard to pass up any processed pork product that is selling for around $2 a pound these days, less than half what you would pay for other breakfast meats, whether your favorites are bacon, ham, or smoked or patty sausage.
Farmer Johns Original Breakfast sausage are always a buck for a 1/2 pound package at Dollar Tree and most club stores. Fairly often, they are on sale for even less. So that’s a deal.
They are “skinless,” and they are not pre-cooked, so prep will take you 10-15 minutes on the stove top or under the broiler. No one recommends microwaving them.
Farmer Johns is an L.A. company, located in Vernon, just south of downtown LA. They’ve been around since 1931, and make the full range of processed pork products: bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, hams…….including the local favorite “Dodger Dog,” sold at Dodger stadium and in retail outlets. The factory (USDA est. 360) (pictured below) is “famous” for its extensive murals depicting rural life. They are now part of Hormel.
The ingredients for the breakfast sausage are straightforward: Pork, water, sodium lactate, less than 2 % salt, dextrose, surgar, flavorings, BH, propyl gallate, citric acid. I’m happy that list doesn’t include any configuration of corn syrup solids, or mechanically separated poutltry.
This product may have changed my mind about having them in the regular breakfast rotation, especially at this price. Plus, since they are not in casings, if they are thawed, you can smoosh them into patties, if you prefer your pork intake in that shape!
The flavor is good, not very seasoned, so great appeal for the mass market. They also offer a “maple flavor” variety.
Farmer Johns Sausage Review
Well this is a curious thing, spotted at WalMart for about a buck. “Lunchables” are “complete” meals to go, to eat heated or at room temperature, and were introduced in 1988 by Oscar Mayer, now part of Kraft.
They were created by a team at Oscar Mayer as a way to sell more bologna, and the first units were comprised of lunch meat, cheese slices and crackers.
Now there is a plethora of choices, including the original styles, pizza slices, diminutive hot dogs, burgers, and subs, and even tacos.
I admit to not being a regular customer, but I impulse bought this one, through it in the microwave for seconds and consumed. I admit it has good flavor, the bacon is great, as is the syrup. The waffles get kinda limp in the microwave tho, I should have tried one at room temp.
Would I buy it again? Probably not, but they’re great things for a family on the go, as long as you watch the nutrition labels. According to the package code, this product is made at South’s Finest Meats 3201 10th Avenue, Suite S, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.
Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review
This small VFW post does whatever it needs to in order to maintain their solvency and funds for projects; they have found a niche with breakfast, dinners, and events for the community and environs.
The third Sunday of each month, they have an AYCE breakfast, loaded up with French toast, biscuits, hash browns, SOS, sausage gravy, two styles of eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, milk, and coffee – all for $7. You also get the congeniality of getting to talk to the volunteers – seemingly all vets of last century’s wars. Nice guys, we should all be thankful for their service, of course.
Every Saturday, the post holds a burger and bratwurst cookout, and on selected Friday nights, they follow the local tradition of an AYCE fish fry. There’s also bingo and pull tabs.
Let’s all do what we can to support our vets. God knows the government isn’t doing much to help them! The post is located at 311 S. Washington St.
Genoa, IL 60135 United States. (815)784-5967. www.genoavetshome.us
Genoa Illinois VFW
Panera was founded in St. Louis, MO, where it operated (and still does in that area) at St. Louis Bread Company. The 1800 store chain is now owned by Au Bon Pain, which no longer operates Au Bon Pain (I liked those, for sure).
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a Panera before, thought I’ve had some of their sandwiches brought to me, and beyond the bread, they weren’t very impressive (not high quality ingredients or quantities of same).
Today I was looking for a new quick breakfast option, and did happen into Panera, where I ordered an Asiago Bacon Egg Cheese “pannini-ized” bagel sandwich, and a large coffee, which set me back the devilish amount of $6.66. No kidding.
The sandwich was prepared while I waited (except I don’t think the eggs were), it was hot, filling, and tasty. Except for the cost, I might be a regular breakfast customer when I am out and about.
I found the store layout a mite confusing, there were four registers and two pick-up stations, I got sent from one to another, although there is no signage, some must be dedicated to one use or another; they give you one of those vibrating hockey pucks to tell you when your order is ready.
Panera Breakfast Sandwich Review
I’ve written a whole lot about the products from Cincinnati-based Advance Pierre, the premiere “heat and eat” and “gas station sandwich” maker in the U.S. Often, besides in vending and C-stores, you’ll find their frozen products at dollar stores.
You know how much I love chicken fried steak? I’ve tried it all over the country, both from restaurants and the heat and eat varieties.
This product was made in the plant pictured below, and is comprised of beef, mechanically separated turkey, and, not kidding, about 150 other ingredients. Nuke of 90 seconds, stir “gravy,” nuke another 30, let sit for 30, and then “enjoy.”
Now ordinarily, I’d put this product in the category of “I tried so you don’t have to.” But I didn’t really “try” it. I had one bite and it was so awful, I couldn’t go on.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Circle A Ranch Country Fried Beef
I double dog admire anyone who starts a business in a crowded space like coffee, but the nice folks at Pepper Park Coffee were apparently undeterred, and opened up a great shop in one of Chicago’s fanciest suburbs, Barrington, about 55 minute NW of the Loop on the Metra commuter train.
Pepper Park has thought of it all. Great coffee drinks, amazing pastries, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, free wi fi, and ample space to spread out by yourself, as a couple or even as a group, as they have a community room that can seat 20. Plenty o’ parking and a drive thru. Nailed it. May even be just the place for a secret rendezvous!
Online and in the store, they have a great infographic that shows you just how your coffee drink will be constructed. You’ll be an expert instantly if you’re new to coffee, and it’s a good refresher for caffeine veterans.
Pepper Park is on Pepper Road, NW of town, just off Highway 14. Convenient to the local medical complexes, hospital and many other businesses, but in any case, worth a trek just to avoid the big, boring chain coffee places.
I haven’t been in a Chik-Fil-A for over a couple decades. This wasn’t a social protest because of their “problems,” but rather they are just not top of mind for me, and also not as visible as other fast foods. There are about 2000 of them in the US.
It’s certainly not a place I would think of for fast food breakfast, yet here I found myself at one today, and it was only because of “location, location, location” and all I was really looking for was a cup of coffee.
I was aware they had “chicken biscuits,” but I wasn’t aware they offered a bacon and egg biscuit, which is my preferred fast food breakfast item, second only after Sonic Toasters.
So I thought I’d take one for a test drive, and throw in a Chicken Biscuit as well, since that is their claim to fame. Oh, and tater tot medallions? Why not?
It’s all cooked to order, and the coffee was just brewing, so the amiable counter person asked me if I wanted a glass of ice water while waiting for the coffee, which they would bring to the table with the food.
I swear, the personnel at this restaurant were so smiley and gleeful, you just wanted to pinch their cheeks. Hospitable behavior in the hospitality business sure doesn’t hurt one bit.
The biscuits are baked in store, so sez the literature, and the chicken is hand breaded on site, as well. I believe it. The bacon was thick and smokey, and the egg almost seemed like it might have been cooked in house, too. And of course, any place that has hash rounds or tots is high on my list. The biscuits could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but other than that, no complaints.
I was both surprised and pleased. The restaurant was busy, too, busier with in-house diners than other fast food outlets I stop in.
Chi-Fil-A Breakfast Review
I have written about a lot of Aldi products; Aldi is the global discount grocer owned by the same German family as Trader Joes. At Aldi, you won’t find many big brand names, but rather Aldi concocted brand names that are manufactured under contract to Aldi’s specifications. (Also it will cost you a quarter to rent a cart, refunded when you return the cart to the line. Oh, and bag your own).
Where as my spawn professes to be a “ham hater,” I am a genuine ham lover, and adore it all. Except honey glazed. My domestic favorite is the slow salt cured beauties from the Carolinas; internationally: jamon serrano, prosciutto and the like.
Much of the ham in grocery stores isn’t very good, tho, and so it’s nice to run into one that isn’t full of fillers and other bits. The Appleton Farms Ham Steak is ham, water, salt, seasonings, and that’s about it.
It’s made for Aldi by a packer called “Gusto” and they’ve been running a ham and bacon operation west of Chicago for over forty years. Gusto was purchased by Butterball in 2012, Butterball is owned by Seaboard, a diverse firm dating back to 1918 and a single flour mill in Kansas.
They run a 200,000 sq foot facility in Montgomery, IL, capable of grinding out 6 million pounds of product weekly. Wow.
Their Appleton Farms Ham Steak? Superb. Highly recommended for real ham taste and texture.
Appleton Farms Ham Steak Review
Another suburban Chicago breakfast, this one in the town of Elgin, far west of the city straddling the Fox River. The 8th largest city in Illinois, it was founded as a dairy center (there was a Borden factory) and home to the Elgin Watch Company, maker of timepieces big and small. It was the largest manufacturer of fine watches in the US for many decades. The town boasts some incredible Victorian homes.
I was just looking for eggs, and the Big Skillet is a typical Chicago style “coffee shop,” meaning a very long menu covering all meals of the day, and an extensive bakery selection.
I’ve kind of always eschewed “skillets” for breakfast, no particular reason, I mean it’s the same food, just piled up instead of spread out. But I’ll always go for a breakfast plate that gives you all three meats, and the “Butcher Skillet” did just that. A mound of hash browns, smothered in melted cheese, with ham, bacon, and sausage, topped with three eggs. Side of toast? Yes please, with an ample set of bread choices, I went for rye.
As with most area ‘coffee shops’, an ample dish of butter or butter like substance graces the table. The massive dish in front of me, I didn’t make much of a dent. I managed two eggs, some of the meat/cheese, and 1 piece of toast.
Excellent food, great value. Downside? I left my favorite hat behind. Sniff.