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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Iras Bagels Review – Lake in the Hills, IL

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Iras Bagels ReviewLiving in the suburbs most anywhere, your choice for bagels is pretty much limited to one of the chains (which are all commonly owned now), the grocery store “bakery,” or grocery store frozen.

I think the first one I ever had was at a small deli across the street from my apartment in Minneapolis. I was hooked.  It was 1975.  Back then, other than at a deli, your choice was limited to frozen. Period.

Go to New York or someone that follows a traditional NY recipe (see video) and you’ll be spoiled forever.  No more chain or frozen bagels, uh huh, no way, never.

 

Well, I got lucky recently, with the opening of “Ira’s Bagels” in Lake in the Hills, IL, a NW Chicago suburb near me. I’m addicted.  Like I needed something else in the category?  I’ve been three times in two days!  In addition to their bagels being absolutely DELICIOUS, they are less expensive than the chain.

They also have sandwiches featuring (the very famous) Manny’s Deli corned beef and pastrami from the iconic downtown Chicago restaurant of the same name.  So no more hour commutes to dig into that, too!

My life is blessed.  Thank you Ira.  Live long and prosper.  Menu.  (Close up pic is mine – 3 “everything” bagels; store picture is from the company’s website).

Iras Bagels Review

 

 

 

 

 

Iras Bagels Review

Iras Bagels Review

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Palms Grill Cafe Review – On Route 66, Atlanta, IL

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Palms Grill Cafe Review One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 (US Highway 66), was established on November 11, 1926.

A few years later, the Palms Grill Cafe opened on the “Mother Road” in Atlanta, IL, about equidistant between St. Louis and Chicago (now just off I-55).

Not much has changed since then, in Atlanta, or at the Palms. The restaurant still whips up most everything from scratch on a daily basis (closed Tuesday, tho), serves breakfast all day, and offers an ever changing menu of daily specials.  This is the epitome of American home cooking.

Taking advantage of that “breakfast all day thing” meant a fried pork chop and eggs for my navigator, and for me? A central Illinois specialty, served nowhere else that I know of.  It’s called the “Horseshoe” and was created in/around Springfield, IL.

This beauty starts with two pieces of toast on the plate, your choice of protein (burger, ham, bacon, pork chop, sausage, chicken), then topped with fries, and your choice of sausage gravy or cheese sauce….or both! And sure, they’ll throw a fried egg or two on top if you want.  That makes it a “breakfast shoe.”

I went with country ham. Delish.  As were the fresh cut, twice fried fries. Not many places do that anymore.

Didn’t have room for dessert, wish I did, each day they have a selection of house made pies and cakes. This lemon cake pictured was right in front of me during lunch. Torture.

There’s a big room for events or tour buses, and the walls are chock-a-block with old time area photos.  Some vintage machines (pinball, cash register, payphone, refrigerator) dot the main room and are all in excellent working condition.

Here’s the menuAnd the daily specials.

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Fried Ham Horseshoe

 

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Pork Chop and Eggs

 

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Lemon Cake

Palms Grill Cafe Review

And directly across the street? Lookee who’s looking at you!

Palms Grill & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Palms Grill Cafe Review

Palms Grill Cafe Review

 

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Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review – Gatlinburg, TN

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Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp ReviewI’m big about avoiding tourist traps or “voted best XXX 10 years in a row.”

Unless I specifically head out for one, of course, and Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp was just one such destination.

I was going to be passing near Gatlinburg, and I thought the least I could do to help boost their local economy after their devastating fires would be to stop and have breakfast.

It’s a tourism mecca, so there is no shortage of themed restaurants, but I liked the menu at Crocketts (it’s only open from 7A-1P BTW), and especially had my eye on their country fried ham, because as I am sure you know, I am a fiend for ham.

It’s a long menu, offering you a choice of egg breakfasts, omelets, skillets, “griddle cakes” and accompaniments.

For some reason, my eyes alit on the most expensive thing on the menu, the Black Bear Camp Skillet, which pretty much assured you one of everything else on the menu:  two eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, taters, biscuit, gravy, pone, cheese grits and a monster “griddle cake.”

I did a respectible job at polishing it off, breakfast potatoes are not my thing, they take up capacity needed for more pork products, and the giant pancake suffered the same fate. Oh, passed on pone, too.

All of it was great. One small ordering glitch (that I have run into a few times lately).  I like my eggs “basted.”  Pretty standard method of cooking.  No can do here. Know why? There isn’t a button for it on the computer.  Scrambled, Up, Over Easy, Over Hard.  That’s it.  Odd.

But otherwise.

Breakfast for two with beverages is going to run your near or north of $40.  Nice kids menu. Be prepared to wait for a table at peak hours. Lots of wall decor that will fascinate the kiddies; no separate menu that I saw, but ordering off the ala carte menu you’ll do ok.

Didn’t get your fill?  They’ll sell you giant cinnamon rolls to go, as well as other souvenirs.

Fun stop. Good grub. Onward.  Spoiler alert.  Nothing to do with “Davy Crockett” if that’s what you were thinking, as I was.

I think I was in Gatlinburg once before, but just a zip through. Reminds me of Wisconsin Dells, if you’ve ever traveled that way.  For that matter, the restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Restaurant in the Dells, only difference being breakfast there is served family style and you’ll receive a complementary starter of freshly fried donuts!

Here’s the entire menu.

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Black Bear Camp Skillet

 

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Griddle Cake – Yes, it is as big as it appears! 

Crockett's Breakfast Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

 

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Fairfield Inn Midtown Review – Savannah, GA

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Fairfield Inn Midtown ReviewI’m not very brand loyal, but after a pretty good experience with Fairfield a few years back, I generally look for them first when I am on the road.

Not as likely to be individually franchisee owned, but rather held by a group management company, the quality of one’s stay is ultra-dependent on how hard the management company works at maintaining the hotel and staff.

TMI Hospitality out of Fargo, which holds a gaggle of Fairfields, does an excellent job.  They have the one in Roseville, MN that I first stayed at.  North Point Hospitality, out of Atlanta, owns and operates the Fairfield Midtown in Savannah.  They built this one from the ground up and it opened in 2016.

On many levels, there are no noticeable differences from one Fairfield to another. They are generally tastefully decorated, with functional rooms geared to the business traveler, adequate work space, free wifi, comfortable lobby, exercise room, pool (this one was outdoor, but heated) and a pretty comprehensive complimentary hot breakfast, where some items change on a daily basis.

Basically, you’re going to find fruit, juices, yogurt, waffles, eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, breads and danish, muffins, coffee, tea, and milk. One morning there was scrambled eggs and turkey sausage, another cheese omelets and veggie sausage.  Pork sausages were available both days.   There are the usual accompaniments, condiments, cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit jellies.

Some observations, not criticisms, of this hotel. Staff wasn’t as welcoming, friendly or helpful as other Fairfields. Let’s call that level of service “perfunctory.”  I object to a parking fee when the ramp/lot is part of the hotel.  The parking ramp was poorly designed, and should be re-striped, at least, the slots are too small for most current model cars.

Don’t even think about taking a big pick-up or van in there.  As a testament to the design error, the hotel has taped up strips of foam on the concrete pillars to try and assist you in minimizing the potential damage putting your car in and out of the space.

Note if you’re making a reservation:  rooms with Kings have only a shower.  Rooms with two queens have a tub/shower.  Not sure why, but that’s the layout of this hotel.  Speaking of bathrooms, you can clearly hear bath “activities” from adjacent rooms.

Breakfast was fine, as described above, but one day was an hour late, without explanation.  That’s fine if you’re a leisure traveler, or one of a group of seniors off the tour bus, but business people and departing guests are apt to be put off by that kind of thing.

Pluses? Besides the things I’ve mentioned, a nice neighborhood, about 4-5 miles from downtown, shops (including two groceries) and restaurants within walking distance, city bus stops at the front door.  Appreciate the outdoor pool was heated to a very comfortable level.

I’d stay again.  FYI.  Shop hard online for rates. I discovered I was paying 30-40% less than many other guests.

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

Breakfast Items

 

 

 

 

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

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Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

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Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage ReviewI usually “make my own” breakfast sausage, and by that I mean I purchase ground pork, season it to my liking and fry it up.

After eggs, ground pork is usually the second least expensive protein in the store.

But I keep trying commercial preparations, and have reviewed a host of them, found here, including Bob Evans, Dollar Tree, Usingers, Grandma Pearl’s, Farmer John’s, Parkview (Aldi) and others.

This week, Odoms Tennessee Pride brand “Hot” (they also make “mild”)  was on sale, so I grabbed a chub.  Odom’s makes fresh sausage, pre-cooked sausage, breakfast sandwiches and sausage gravy. I’ve tried the frozen sausage gravy in the past. The company was started in 1943 in Tennessee and today is part of food giant Conagra. Conagra has a ton of food brands which you probably use regularly.

This particular chub of sausage was manufactured for Conagra at Abbyland Pork Pack in Curtiss, WI.

As to this sausage. I was quite pleased with it. Not a terribly fine grind, which gives it some texture. Handsome, authentic pork flavor, and just the right amount of heat for me. I can be a  wimp about hot foods sometimes. Not a whole lot of residual fat in the skillet after cooking, so that’s good too, it’s lean.

I’d buy it again, especially if was on sale, but even on sale, it’s still 30-40% more than fresh ground pork.

Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

Pan fried

 

Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

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Libby Gravy Review

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Libbys Gravy ReviewI like biscuits and gravy. (B&G).  Not enough to order it as a sole breakfast entree at restaurants, but if they offer diminutive sizes on the side dishes menu, I’ll give it a taste.

I also like it at home, but also not enough to make it from scratch. So I spotted a can of Libby’s Sausage Gravy at WalMart for a buck. Great Value brand is also available in the same price range, with a very similar ingredient list.

In my “salad days” (OK, I never had salad days) when I was younger, Libbys was a huge label in canned goods. Vegetables, fruit, juices, even meats.

Started in 1875 in Chicago Now owned by ConAgra, which holds dozens of brands you’d recognize like Laura Scudder, Armour, Beatrice, Butterball, Banquet, Ekrich,  Golden Flake, Hebrew National, Morton, Swift, and many more. Libbys accounts for the vast majority of canned pumpkin in the US, if you were wondering about that.

Anyway. Heat and eat gravy. Ingredients are pretty straight forward, water, pork sausage, flour, and less than 2% of the blah blah blah.

I heated in, poured it over some store bought biscuits and my “ho-made” breakfast sausage (I buy plain ground pork, it’s very cheap, and season it), and I liked it. I’ve even made repeat purchases.  It’s AOK.

Pic below of my plate, and of the plant where ConAgra makes the gravy in Trenton, MO.

Libbys Gravy Review

Libbys Gravy Review

Missouri ConAgra Plant

 

Libbys Gravy Review

Missouri ConAgra Plant

 

Libby Gravy Review

Libby Gravy Review

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Big Boy Breakfast Buffet Review – Hamilton, OH

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https://t.co/pkcTH6HVoY

Burbank, CA Location

Neither you nor I have enough time to go into the history of Big Boy restaurants. Suffice to say, started in California in the 30s, oldest one still standing is Burbank, CA (pictured below),  chain went thru several owners and now is a “chain of chains,” in that while they share menu, decor, and marketing, most Big Boy’s across the country have a “different first name,” by regional owners,   like Frisch’s, Marc’s, Shoney’s, Bob’s, Elia’s, and so on. In the “good to know” category, in 1936, Bob came up with the double-decker burger with bun in the middle, (pictured below) which most people today call a “Big Mac.”  It’s still on the Big Boy menu, too. As the “Big Boy.”

I used to pop into one in New Orleans on occasion for their breakfast buffet, that one was torn down to widen the freeway in front of it. They promised to rebuild, but alas, no luck. There’s just one left in New Orleans now.

Driving thru Hamilton, OH, a distant suburb of Cincinnati, I noticed a Frisch’s Big Boy (they are one of the largest Big Boy operators) so as I was spending the night, I decided I’d take in their breakfast buffet the next AM.

And I did. Alone. I was the only customer. The restaurant and bar were immaculate and the warming trays kept tidy. They had the usual breakfast buffet items, with several types of meats, eggs, breads, fruits, cereals, pancakes and more.

I helped myself.  I always like to see how many types of breakfast meats I can gather up at one time, I think here it was four. Bacon, ham, link sausage, patty sausage. Wait, there were two kinds of patties, so five!

It was all hot and tasty and around $8. Service people were helpful and friendly and coffee was topped off regularly.  Many Big Boy’s around the country (but not all) offer the breakfast buffet, and some have nightly buffets that vary by day of the week (seafood, southern style, ribs, etc).

The food is better than almost all the fast-casual chains, and a much better value. Stop by one.

 Frisch’s Big Boy locations.  If you’re not in Frisch territory, you’ll have to Google to find a Big Boy operator near you!

https://t.co/pkcTH6HVoY

Breakfast Buffet

 

https://t.co/pkcTH6HVoY

Mascot Statue

The Big Boy Double Decker Burger

The Big Boy Double Decker Burger

 

 
Frisch's Big Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Big Boy Breakfast Buffet Review

Big Boy Breakfast Buffet Review

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Winstons Irish Bacon Review

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Winstons Irish Bacon ReviewWhen you request bacon in the US, you know what you are going to get. Smoked/cured thin slices of pork belly, with streaks of fat parallel to streaks of delicious meat.

Unless you request “Canadian Bacon” which is neither Canadian nor bacon, but very lean sliced pork loin,  cured and smoked. Outside of the US, “American style” bacon is often referred to as “streaky bacon.”

Not so in other parts of the world, where you can be faced with a number of choices.  In the UK and other remnants of the Empire, where you will most often be served what is referred to in the US and Canada as “back bacon,” thin slices of smoked (or not) pork cut from both the loin and a small bit from the belly.  It is cut from the same part of the hog as pork chops.

Order a “full breakfast” in England, and it will come with a couple slices of back bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, and toast. Maybe a grilled tomato. Depends on what part of the country you are in.

All this to say, in my recent visit to the mecca of foodie groceries, Jungle Jims, there are many choices of bacon to put in your cart, including a number of selections not made from pork. (My father was a habitual beef bacon consumer. It’s very lean, pretty chewy, but very tasty).

I picked up a pack of “Winston’s Irish Bacon,” which, to my surprise, is made here in Chicago. I’ve never seen it before, but apparently, Winston’s is a fairly old company specializing in Irish foods, they are wholesale processors, but also have a couple of markets and a restaurant.

Anyhow, Winstons bacon is delish.  I’m eager to track down some of their sausages and whatever else they got. Their factory/store is on the far south side of Chicago, but probably worth a drive. I’m a sucker for new sausage suppliers!

In the end, quality bacon at my house nearly always leads to a gooey fried egg sammich. Today was no exception!

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

In the pan, fried for 2 minutes a side

 

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

My fried egg sammich

 

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Chicago factory and retail outlet

 

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

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Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

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Click to view larger image.

 

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

 

 

 

 

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

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Crack Barrel Review, Nationwide Chain

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Cracker Barrel ReviewI was reading about this couple the other day, 80 years old, who have visited every Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in the country, except one. Interesting goal.

According to Wikipedia, there are 640 outlets. The company started in 1969 with the first store located in Lebanon, TN.

The accent is on “country home cooking” and there is also a small attached general store, which sells retro home decor and food products.

They pride themselves on a number of their offerings being prepared in-house, all day long, like biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Here’s the bottom line. I probably haven’t been in one of these in ten years. I think the prices have come down, making it a better value, but I think the quality has declined, as well.  I had chicken fried steak and eggs, and the steak tasted like it could have been from any food service supplier. I know it’s hard to get consistency, but I do like a good CFS prepared in house.

So, “it is what it is,” and I’ll see you again in ten years.

Crack Barrel Review

Chicken fried steak and eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full menu. Locations.
Cracker Barrel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crack Barrel Review
Crack Barrel Review

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