What did I expect? The only thing I’d ever eaten at Denny’s was the “Grand Slam,” a much too hearty breakfast, consumed while on vacation upstate or in Florida, when appetites tend toward the voracious. So when I heard about Denny’s “Baconalia! A Celebration of Bacon” (at participating restaurants for a limited time only), I found myself at the Levittown restaurant, one of two that opened last year on Long Island.
Baconalia is a special menu invented by corporate chefs with slightly more creativity than the cooks who are charged with making the food. There are seven selections featuring bacon with most of them just variations on bacon and eggs, the most interesting being Bacon Meatloaf, and the main reason I’m here: the Maple Bacon Sundae.
Fortified with homemade oatmeal and a fistful of Lipitor, I sit down to the Triple Bacon Sampler ($6.99) one afternoon. Six strips of bacon—pepper bacon, turkey bacon and regular—accompanied by two scrambled eggs and a slab of hash brown potatoes is familiar ground. The turkey bacon is not crispy but successfully masquerades as the real thing. Pepper bacon is not peppery, not even a little, but the slices are thick-cut and have good smoky flavor. Since this is Baconalia, the cheese-covered hash browns have large bits of bacon crumbled throughout for good measure. I’m impressed enough to return the next night for dinner with the wife as an accomplice, but first I make a mental note to google “cholesterol-lowering foods.”
Like anthropologists (the locals seem to resemble natives of Rochester and Jacksonville) I order the Bacon Meatloaf ($8.99) and—because the BBBLT Sandwich is just a BLT with lots more B and Bacon Flapjacks are just pancakes with bacon bits cooked in—my wife uncovers the more adventurous sounding Bacon Slam Burger ($8.29) on the everyday menu. Alas, this is where it all went wrong, when the expedition threatened to derail and return from whence it came.
Not to take a gratuitous cheap shot or anything but suffice it to say a hamburger topped with a scrambled egg, two strips of bacon, cheese sauce and home fries is not anywhere as delicious sober as it might sound at three in the morning after a night of Heinekens and Jack (Denny’s is open 24/7).
On the other hand, if one were to drink enough to stomach the Bacon Meatloaf, it wouldn’t remain stomached for long. Remember the meatloaf from your high school cafeteria? It was better than this. I began to worry that those scary ladies in hairnets were in the kitchen. What was I expecting? I don’t know, something along the lines of simple comfort food with plenty of bacon. The two slices were dense and dry (after being grilled!) with some bacon on top and inside, and somehow made worse with a dark sweet hickory ketchup smeared on that looked like residue from the BP oil spill. We quickly retreated into the Maple Bacon Sundae ($2.99), which was pretty good. Vanilla ice cream with maple-flavored syrup and some bacon crumbed on top.
The manager asked what I thought and I replied with something I never thought I would say, “The sundae needed more bacon.”
2716 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown
255 Centereach Mall, Centereach
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