Monday, September 5, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner at McCoppin Off the Grid

It is no secret that I love breakfast foods. Sometimes we even make pancakes, bacon and fruit in the evening, calling it "breakfast for dinner." It turns out that we're not the only ones with that particular affinity, as on Saturday Off the Grid hosted their third monthly theme night at McCoppin Hub. The three trucks and one cart at "Breakfast for Dinner" cooked up their own takes on flipping mealtime around, and there was no way we were going to sit this one out.

I'll admit right off the bat that I have had a life-long love affair with bacon. When I used to visit my grandmother's house as a child I would convince her to make a giant plate of just bacon for breakfast. That's right, bacon, and nothing else! So needless to say I now have great love for Jim Angelus's truck, Bacon Bacon. Since sampling his food at the truck's soft launch a few months ago, I have gazed longily upon it when it's participated in the Haight Street Off the Grid. But the lines have been so long I have been unable to try anything since that afternoon at the DMV.

That changed Saturday night when the family and I cruised down to McCoppin for a fun Saturday evening. Immediately I headed toward the big black truck with the giant pink pig logo and salivated in front of the menu, trying to choose from items that all looked delicious. For once, the line wasn't too daunting, and the mood was quite casual. The Bacon Bacon crew were out front, taking orders in bright white bathrobes, adding to the event's quirky atmosphere. Jim and I chatted briefly about how things were going since the launch and about how their might be some upcoming menu changes for future Thursday nights.

Eventually I decided on the Bacon Pancakes, one of the specials for the event, and the item I was most dying to try—the Bacon Bouquet—offered on their usual menu. There isn't anything fancy about the bouquet; its appeal is in its simplicity. The bouquet is simply a conical wrapper filled with slices of bacon, with some added chives for aesthetics. It's impossible not to smile while holding a giant tube of bacon, and it brought me back to childhood when I would munch on slice after slice of this smoky, subtly sweet delicacy. The thick-sliced bacon was meaty, chewy, and slightly crisp around the edges. The bouquet immediately caught the eye of my three-year old, who is a fellow bacon aficionado himself, and he asked if he could share.

My Bacon Bouquet was the perfect accompaniment to my main breakfast course, Bacon Pancakes topped with maple syrup and a bacon jam. The pancakes were golden brown, thin and took up most of my container. I knew it would be a feat to be able to finish since they were on the large side, but there was no way I was leaving any morsel of this wonderfully fluffy creation. The pancakes themselves were buttery and light, and the bacon jam topping had seductive hints of maple for a sweet and tangy finish. Additional bacon bits lay nestled between the two pancakes, initially hidden until I took a few bites, and provided the final touch to make these pancakes irresistible. The salty and sweet mixture is one that can't be beat, and Angelus created a winning combination in these pancakes.

Meanwhile, Brian made a stop at Brunch Box and had a tough decision to make between the Toad in the Hole and the Chicken and Waffles. The former was one of his favorite weekend morning treats growing up, but there is something magical when fried chicken meets buttery waffles and maple syrup. A visit to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles is a must whenever we go to L.A., and Brian was excited to try Brunch Box's version.

When in doubt, go with the chef's choice, and Caroline Hummer recommended the Toad in the Hole. Score another point for food trucks; besides sushi places it's the rare restaurant where you can ask the chef her recommendation face to face. Besides, Chicken and Waffles is more of a dinner or late night meal. We were here for breakfast!

The yolk from the fried egg playing the role of the toad was allowed to ooze all over the bottom of the paper container before being soaked up by the French toast that surrounded it. This created a wonderful layering of two egg textures, as the egg batter kept the toast firm and crispy even as the cloying yolk surrounded it.

But as far as brilliant moves go, nothing (except the menu board) could have been preparation for the peanut butter smear on the bottom. Woah. Even with that warning, the creamy peanut butter gave the French toast an added dimension that cut through the sweetness of the maple syrup and transcended breakfast altogether. A side of bacon (because I wasn't sharing) completed the dish. The only problem with the dish was that the disposable utensils weren't strong enough to cut through crust of the Acme sourdough batard. It definitely needed actual silverware. Brunch Box really has a talent for taking early morning staples and making them accessible all day long. They have at least one vote for adding this to the permanent menu.

Like most kids, our three year-old has an affinity for hot dogs, so as soon as he saw the Let's Be Frank cart that is so familiar from our hikes down to Crissy Field, he made his choice with confidence. For the event, Let's Be Frank was offering both a "Woeuf" Dog and a Bacon Dog. While the Woeuf (w-oeuf—time to practice your French) sounded intriguing with its 100% beef frank, French scrambled eggs, bacon and Devil sauce, the adults weren't making the decisions here; he wanted the Bacon Dog.

Bacon-wrapped hot dogs may be a street food staple, but often the problem is that the hot dog loses out to the bacon. Let's Be Frank went simple and kept the snap of the lamb casing on the grass-fed beef frank by putting a strip of bacon next to it on the bun. Topped with ketchup and mustard, our son liked it well enough to eat the whole thing, though at one point he let the wiener pop out of the bun and fall to the floor after taking a bite. The five-second rule may pass at home but not in the McCoppin parking lot! Luckily the women at Let's Be Frank were kind enough to wash it off and throw it back on the grill for us. Meltdown averted.

Arki was the fourth vendor participating in the event, and when we first arrived I had promised myself that I would save room for their fried chicken and donuts after I finished my pancakes. I absolutely love their fried chicken, but after all the bacon I ate there was no way I was going to find room in my stomach for any more food. Sadly, my fried chicken fix was going to have to wait for another time.

Who else likes to have their breakfast after the sun goes down? Let us know in the comments section!

Off the Grid (@sfcarts)
Bacon Bacon (@baconbaconsf)
Fogcutter (@fogcuttersf)
Let's Be Frank (@letsbefranksf)
Arki (@akritruck)

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