I have written about my bacon obsession before, and those who know me know that I hold all things bacon in the highest regard. Some might think it a joke, but I am really quite serious. It is Ur-Food in my book!
Returning home from Ohio recently, we stopped for breakfast near Zanesville. The choices at this particular interstate exit did not offer up a lot of possibilities and so we ended up at Denny’s Classic Diner. Generally, the food at Denny’s is not that bad, and for those of us in the 55 and older set, the menu selections and prices make for little complaint. This restaurant chain has been around for sixty years, starting out as Denny’s Donuts in California in 1953. The name changed to simply Denny’s in 1959, and since 1997 several of the franchises throughout the country have changed their look and now bill themselves as “Classic Diners.” Different look, same food. I first stopped at one of these diners last spring when I was stranded in a snow storm outside of Minneapolis. I had a great breakfast there and so we decided to give the one near Zanesville a chance. Little did I know that Denny’s shares and celebrates my bacon obsession.
Sitting at the counter, our very pleasant waitress offered us the standard menu as well as the special “Baconalia” menu, a limited time offering with which our visit had a most pleasant nexus. I am use to ordering breakfast while asking for an extra rasher of bacon. Not necessary this time around! I ordered the “Ultimate Bacon Breakfast” which proffered not just a side of bacon, but a “Baconalia side of bacon” - six hickory-smoked slices!! - served with two eggs any style, crispy hash browns, and a pile of buttered toast. And all for just six bucks! And you know what? One could add two extra strips of bacon to anything on the menu for an additional 99¢ . . . or four for $1.98. OMG!
What else, you may ask? There were choices to be had. There was the “Pepper Bacon & Eggs” which included a regular serving of bacon rubbed with black pepper. Looked good, but I was more interested in the quantity of bacon and not the manner in which it is prepared and served. Still, a pretty good deal at $5.49. There is a “Pepper Bacon Avocado Omelette” described as another “bacon-inspired dream come true” . . . a three-egg omelette with diced pepper bacon joined with fresh avocado, roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, pico de gallo and cheese. It was tempting. Then there is “French Toast Stuffed With Carmel Bacon” . . . two slices of toast enclosing a layer of bacon and a white chocolate spread doused with a caramel sauce and covered with bacon bits. Add a couple of eggs and two more slices of bacon and anyone with a sweet tooth has a pretty good bargain at eight bucks. Too sweet for me, but hey!
Had we stuck around for lunch, we would have had a choice among the “Ultimate BLT” with its four slices of pepper bacon; the “Spicy Pepper Bacon Jack Burger” topped with slices of bacon and all the usual fixings coupled with sliced jalapeños and a chipotle sauce; and the “Bacon Pepper Jack Tilapia” with sauteed spinach, diced bacon and pico de gallo with jack cheese. The bacon sounds good . . . but tilapia? I’m sorry, but I view this species as just one small step above carp. A nice haddock, even catfish, is preferable as an affordable and tasty white fish. Yet, if you cover it with bacon . . . maybe.
For those with lighter appetites, there are the “BBQ Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese Bites” served with BBQ sauce and warm pepper jack cheese and topped with bacon bits, or the “Bacon Cheddar Red-Skinned Potatoes” which give the phrase “meat and potatoes” a whole new meaning.
So you see where I am going with this. Bacon give a wonderful flavor boost to anything and everything. A case in point. How about a “Maple Bacon Milk Shake” or a “Maple Bacon Sundae”? They are both on the menu. Vanilla ice cream with maple-flavored syrup (I would have sprung for the real thing) and bits and chunks of hickory-smoked bacon. Our waitress told us they are both “divine.” As much as I like bacon, I personally think this is pushing the envelope a bit, especially mixing the hickory and maple flavorings. But maybe it’s just me. Finally, a “Salted Caramel Brownie Sundae With Bacon” (also available without bacon). Nope. That IS going too far!
My wife had a waffle . . . she always goes for the waffle. Did it come with bacon? No, it did not. If it had, maybe I would have had the waffle. True, I could have had the special bacon side order, but that’s not the point. But I am not complaining. It was a great breakfast and soon we were headed down and bound for Wheeling and points east with visions of bacon dancing in my head.
[*] I have received neither enticements nor compensation of any kind from Denny’s . . . although our nice waitress was kind enough to give me a copy of the “Baconalia” menu for my collection. Check out the "Looking Toward Portugal" Facebook page for more information and photos.
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