Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breakfast At A Burger Joint?

I will freely admit to eating at the Hamburger Station whenever I am in the mood for a slider or two. The fact that there is a location so close to where I live in neighboring Ellet (a suburb of Akron), the burgers fresh taste and the homemade fried onion rings and mushrooms are just some of the reasons why I return on a somewhat regular basis. When I first wrote about them in my comparison to the national chain White Castle, based on signs I saw in the store, I knew that they also served breakfast. However, until today, I had simply assumed that "breakfast" meant the same type of fast food individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches available at other national fast food chains.

Since I was in the area during an early morning Saturday, I decided to stop by and check them out. I pulled into the parking lot, walked in the side door and was immediately greeted by an employee. I thought this a little odd at first until she asked me if I was here for dine-in or take-out. It was only then that I noticed that the normally barren white tables had place mats on them complete with napkins and silverware. Additionally, baskets of half-and-half and a small carrier of jams and jellies adorned each table.

As I sat down at my table, I noticed the daily special being advertised on a small placard:

What surprised me even more was when my server handed me a printed menu:

For a place that primarily served sliders and chicken wings during lunch and dinner time, I was quite amazed by the selection that was available for breakfast. Essentially during breakfast hours, the kitchen staff were transformed into short-order cooks, preparing pancakes and omelettes to customer's demands. After looking through the menu, I began to realize that a lot of the ingredients used to create the dinner-time sandwiches (such as the Italian sausage) were also being used to fuel the breakfast menu, too.

My server started my meal by bringing me a cup of decaf and a glass of water to my table:

The coffee was decent enough, especially given the location. It certainly wasn't the best cup of decaf I've ever had, but a little sugar helped to control the bitterness of the brew.

Having given the menu careful consideration, I decided to go with something simple: an order of the buttermilk pancakes and a side of bacon. It seemed bizarre listening to other customers order food cooked to specific temperatures, like eggs over medium, especially considering that during dinner hours, everything came out of the kitchen at only one preparation, done.

I sat at my table and sipped my coffee and soon my breakfast arrived:

At $3.69, these pancakes were fresh, hot, fluffy and had just the slightest tang from the buttermilk. I didn't notice if these were available as a short stack (meaning two instead of three), but these three pancakes were enough to fill me up and the price was quite reasonable.

Along with my pancakes came my side of bacon:

The bacon was decent enough. There were small bits of burned spots on various strips, most likely coming from not scraping the grill of previously fried bacon or sausage patties before putting my strips down. The bacon itself was of nominal quality and pretty much standard for diner fare. I would've gladly paid the same amount of money for three better quality bacon strips than four average ones, but given that I was being served bacon cooked to order at this burger joint was still a bit amazing to me.

Along with my breakfast came a basket of butter pats and a container full of syrup:

I was happy to see actual pats of butter instead of margarine and while the syrup was definitely sweet, I highly doubt that the Hamburger Station had any problem serving me syrup that was maple-flavored and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. While I certainly don't expect real maple syrup at these prices, I know that there are some nationally produced syrups that are actually made using sugar instead of HFCS. Some might argue that you are simply substituting one form of sugar for another, but if given the choice, I will always pick the naturally occurring substance over the chemically created one (and yes, I do realize that most commercially created sugar is whitened through chemical bleaching).

In the end, my meal came to slightly over $7 and while I think that there are some other breakfast joints that far surpass the Hamburger Station in quality (such as Flury's Cafe, Golden Goose, and Twig's Diner just to name three), none of those are just down the street from where I live. If I am out and about running errands in that part of town, I would be happy to return again for a breakfast here rather than at one of the national fast food restaurants that seem to litter the surrounding landscape. If you are looking for the absolute best in breakfast foods, however, you'll definitely want to give this breakfast joint a pass in favor of some of the others I have mentioned.

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