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Posts Tagged ‘White Castle’

Impossible Burger Review

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Impossible Burger ReviewSo there’s this Stanford professor, Patrick Brown, B.S., M.D., PHD, who decides in 2009 to take an 18-month sabbatical in 2009 to study “eliminating industrial animal agriculture” (fancy words that basically mean big time animal raising for food).

He is of the school that believes the industry is doing major damage to the planet. He hosts a few seminars on his findings, the world kind of doesn’t take notice, but convinced he’s onto something with the idea of replacing animal protein with that derived from plants, he starts “Impossible Foods” in 2011 at the age of 57, apparently aiming to be the Colonel Sanders of the industry segment.

Armed with $400 million in venture capital (seriously!) he sets out to create first of all, a “burger” that duplicates the appearance, texture, and taste of a ground beef hamburger, but using entirely plant-based components.

A restaurant or two pick it up and the product meets with moderate success, initially. Here’s what struck me about its “overnight success.”  These guys found the best PR/Marketing company in the world, apparently, cause try as you might, it’s pretty damned difficult to find a BAD review of the burger.  “Tastes just like hamburger.” “It even bleeds.” Blah blah blah.  They launched a campaign equal to the one some years back for the much ado about nothing “Umami Burger.”

Full-scale production, widespread distribution, buckets of venture money, it looks like the Impossible Burger is here to stay.  So far the pitch has been you’re gonna help save the planet, rather than get healthier.  Maybe that message is somewhere and I just haven’t seen it.

The company had a victory this week in having the product certified as Kosher.  Also this week at the National Restaurant Show, they debuted a line of breakfast sausages.

They chose White Castle as the outlet for one of their first mass production deals. Curious since it’s not a national chain, isn’t really known for launching new products, and already has their own vegetarian patty on the menu, which I tried a couple years ago.

The White Castle product is “slider size” and is marketed as being topped with smokey cheddar cheese, pickles and onions. For some reason, at my White Castle, they didn’t think I deserved the topping or were hell-bent on saving a nickel that day, so mine was plain. Actually, that’s alright, it gives one a better sense of the product on a stand-alone basis. (Adding junk on top of a burger can make just about any meat patty ‘better.’ just look at the success of In N Out).

My take?  I don’t think it’s a mass market product.  Not that many people are willing to change their habits (obviously) to save the planet.  It probably appeals to devout vegetarians who think they miss the taste of beef or just want some variety (a complaint I hear a lot from vegetarians), but I don’t think it is going to get that many beef-a-holics to change their eating habits.

It looks like ground beef. It has an aroma and taste that will REMIND you of ground beef. (To me it tastes like inexpensive ground beef blend, a fatty 77/23 or so).  The texture they are going to have to work on, as well as a binder. Fat holds ground beef together, and the Impossible Burger crumbles, at least in the White Castle version.

I wish them success.  Great to see an old geezer (as I am) like Brown do a big-time start-up, and get that kind of financing, especially since it’s an industry he doesn’t have experience in.

I don’t know whether they are selling the product in bulk yet, like at groceries. Someone told me it’s at Whole Foods, but I haven’t verified it.  It is in a lot of restaurants tho, and the company provides a locator so you can track down an Impossible Burger near you.  I’m sure chefs are being creative with ingredients and presentation.

Impossible Burger Review

Two Impossible Burger Sliders Dissected.

 

 

 

 

 

Impossible Burger Review
Impossible Burger Review

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White Castle Frozen Fries Review – Nationwide Grocery Product

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White Castle Frozen Fries ReviewSome years ago, an “expert” told me in the future, half the products in a grocery store will be branded restaurant foods.  I scoffed.

Shouldn’t have, he was right.  No matter your favorite fast food or casual dining choice, it’s very likely you’ll find products with their names on them in the frozen food section of your grocery.  Who knew?  (Except that expert).

I’ve written about White Castle often, America’s oldest burger chain, they’ve had frozen burgers in the store for a long while, maybe one of the first chains to embark down this road.

Today I tried out their frozen crinkle cut fries, which is a new offering (at least to me).  I’ve taken to crinkle cuts lately, and it seems so have many fast food chains, someone somewhere thinks they are “retro” and since we all hunger for the past, they’ve popped up on a lot of menues.  Fine with me. I’ve had them at Zaxby’s, Shake Shack,  Culvers, as well as that granddaddy of iconic Chicago hot dog stands, Superdawg.  All excellent.

I had pretty low expectations for the White Castle variety, most of the frozen fast food sides I have tried have been somewhat of a disappointment, hardly resembling the restaurant product.

Delightfully, my expectations were exceeded, and these crinkles are crisp and tasty out of the oven. Instructions are to bake them at a higher temp than most frozen fries, and I suspect that’s one key to their success;  I caution you to keep an eye on them in the oven, because they can go from hot and crispy to rock like in a hurry.

I think they are a fair representation of the restaurant product, perhaps a wee bit smaller, not sure.  I’ll remember to check next time I’m in a Castle. And yes, I’d buy these regularly.

White Castle Frozen Fries Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Castle Frozen Fries Review

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Krystals Waffle Fries Review

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(Update, these are apparently no longer available.  Potato “strips,” grits, or beans are the alternative choice to fries at present).

Hit up Krystal to try one of their latest offerings, Seasoned Waffle Fries, and of course, I needed a couple sliders to ‘wash’ them down with.   After decades of contemplation about it, I think I prefer the Krystal burger to White Castle.  Can’t say why, maybe it’s the pickle.

I love Waffle Fries.  And tots.  And will almost always opt for them if they are an option.  This particular order?  Not seasoned, and not fully cooked. (Sigh)

So I can’t really give a fair assessment of them, since I doubt they were  prepared as corporate would have preferred.

A few years ago, I checked out Krystal’s mini hot dogs. In this very same city, as it happens.

Menu is online. Locator.

krystal2

 

Krystal on Urbanspoon

krystals waffle fries review

krystals waffle fries review

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White Castle

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Sliders, gut bombs, no matter what you call them, the small square burgers cooked on a bed of onions, are a distinctly American tradition.    The White Castle chain was one of the first fast food establishments, started in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas.

Americans were reticent to eat ground beef at the time, due to the popularity of Upton Sinclair’s novel of the meat packing industry in “The Jungle.”

Walter Anderson, along with his partner Billy Ingram, made their outlet out of white porcelain enamel on the outside, and stainless steel inside, believing the scheme denoted “cleanliness.”

For a time, as the chain grew, they were cranking out pre-fab versions of the porcelain castle, and one still stands in Minneapolis. (pictured left)

Sliders were originally a nickel until the 1940’s, then 10 cents for a long time after that.   Today, a single burger is 68 cents and the menu has been expanded to include breakfast sandwiches, chicken breast sliders, and a couple of very unique items, “chicken rings”, and “fish nuggets.”  (pictured below).

Four burgers, an ample size fries (crinkle-cut), and medium drink will set you back less than five bucks, and there are various other combination meals with come with larger quantities of burgers.   They even sell a one hundred pack.

Some folks say White Castles taste best when it’s the middle of the night, and one has indulged in too much alcohol.  But I’d take exception to that.  The only time I ever had Mrs. Burgerdogboy in a White Castle, we had indeed consumed too much alcohol, and while the burgers tasted just fine to me, the stainless steel bench proved the perfect resting place for her pretty little passed out head.

But I’ll even eat them sober.   I love ‘em.

There are many ‘clones’, whether Castle Burgers in New Orleans, or Krystal, a chain across the south similar to White Castle, but with a deeper menu

 

White Castle Burgers and Fries

White Castle Fish Nuggets

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New Orleans, LA – Castleburgers

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One of the 24/7 munchie palaces in New Orleans is a local chain called “Tastee Donuts.” Hardly a chain, anymore, I had a hard time finding an open location, all my usual Tastees were boarded up.

In addition to delicious donut thingies, Tastee also serves “Castleburgers”, a complee schnock off of White Castles/Krystal, no different than Krystal, only difference I know between them and White Castle is the patties don’t have holes in them.

So I stopped in and wolfed down a couple today. Tastee makes some damned tasty burgers. Only open location I could find was the one on Esplanade, near Mid City.




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Tastee Donuts on Urbanspoon

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Taste Test – White Castle Frozen Cheeseburgers

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white castle PNG 1

I’ve been going to White Castle for more than 40 years.   I’ve even eaten there when I have been stone cold sober.   I like ’em.   The “southern version’ – Krystals, I like them too.

I’ve had the frozen White Castles before, never had much luck with them at home.  I haven’t had them since I started this burger odyssey, and it’s a nite out for Mrs BDB, so it’s another burger night at home.

I’m sure you are acquainted with White Castle.  You may not know it was America’s first fast food chain.  You may not know the “white” symbolized cleanliness, because in 20’s in the Midwest, just about everyone had read Upton Sinclair’s account of (non) cleanliness in the meat packing industry, and folks were a bit reluctant to consume ground beef.    So Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram made their Wichita restaurant the epitome of cleanliness – including spotless white uniforms, and stainless steel interiors.  Some credit Anderson with inventing the hamburger bun, but you’d get an argument on that from many Portlanders.

The burgers come in a six pack, 3 cello packs of two each, and they very closely resemble the ones in the restaurants.    The instructions are simple:  open one end of the cello wrap, nuke 60 seconds if frozen, 30 seconds if thawed.

I’d never tried “thawed” before, so that seemed to be the plan for tonight.  The burgers in the restaurant are frozen patties, with five holes in each, cooked on a bed of onions, on one side only.  Orginally, they were supplied by Swift, and came 18 to a pound.   I didn’t weigh these, I should have.

Following these instructions produced a burger with a taste and texture nearly identical to the restaurant.   In the diner, they are served sans condiments, except for one lonely pickle chip.  I added a squirt of mustard to mine, and a handful of the Northwest’s own Tim’s Potato Chips.

I’ve bought them before, and I’ll buy them again.  Especially now that I’ve figured out how to cook them!

white castle PNG 2

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Minneapolis, MN – The Original Slider

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There’s a gaggle of White Castles in the Twin Cities, and the one on Lake Street is one of the original locations (altho the building has been rebuilt). I think I have a different definition of “dives” than many people. I think a place doesn’t qualify as a dive unless it’s in a neighborhood you are currently, or used to be, afraid to enter. That’s my rule.

Such was the case with the Lake Street White Castle 40 years ago, such as it is today. It’s a great place to give away your food, quickly, when somebody asks.

Next time I want a White Castle fix, I’ll hit the drive thru.


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sodak_mn_32

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Birmingham, AL – Krystal Mini Dogs

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I couldn’t pass up Krystal’s version of chili dogs, mild curiousity.  For those of you not living in the South, Krystal is to Southerners what White Castle is to Northerners/   I wanted to try the Krystal “Pups” just because they were cute – diminutive versions of the chili dog, small enough to fit three into a standard styrofoam container.

There being only two in my foto is not to be taken as a sign that one was consumed.  I, in fact, only ordered. two.  Should it surprise me that the included frank had the most flavor of any that I tried?  Not really, I guess.  In annual surveys of fast food joints, both Krystal and White Castle rate at the top of the scale for quality of food ingredients.  They have “purer” ground beef that the McDonalds of the world, for example, so it made perfect sense to me that the “Pups” on their own, would taste good.  The chili was better than most, but still not what I was looking for.

You have a choice of pups

 


Krystal Mini Dogs

Krystal Mini Dogs

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