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My Fresh Basket

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There are few things more disappointing than being let down by a breakfast burrito, even more so when it comes from a place of otherwise high standards. The twist of the knife is when the burrito is just within reach of the quality one would expect from such a spot. Case in point is My Fresh Basket, a new highfalutin Spokane market which delivers on many levels, but is sadly missing its inner tortillaphilia glow.

Maybe I went in with too high of expectations. The burritos are not prepared on-the-spot like at PCC, which I’d otherwise compare to My Fresh Basket. Here we get tinfoil wrapped cylinders in a heating tray, and that brings with it some hard questions. When was the burrito prepared? How long has it been in the tray? Was it prepared by a trained burrito professional? Valid questions, but I have enjoyed pre-prepared burritos before, and My Fresh Basket seemed like a pretty safe bet.

The issues presented themselves straight at unwrapping time. Trying to remove the tinfoil Mission-style was an exercise in futility. Small pieces had to be torn off in increments, making the dining experience unnecessarily slow. Hey, I’m not an impatient man, but when that burrito is in front of me, I very much want to enjoy it on my own time.

Faring better were the fillings, which consisted of high-quality ingredients. Cheddar and sausage? A respectable, classic combination, particularly when paired with green and red peppers. The eggs were there, as one would expect from any self-respecting breakfast burrito. And the potatoes… Oh, the potatoes.

This is where everything fell flat. You cannot have undercooked potatoes in a burrito. It’s just not done. It’s unseemly. Biting into something overly firm and quasi-cold stands in such stark contrast with otherwise piping-hot fillings. It’s enough to ruin one’s morning, which is even worse when the tortilla featured solid flavors.

The good can’t compensate for the bad when the bad literally blocks the good. Getting through those potatoes took effort. The poor wrap-job directly stopped me from getting to the actual burrito.

It was all very sad, nigh tragic. I had expected more, and I almost did get what I had hoped for. This time, though, almost wasn’t enough.

But, I will be back. Search their souls, and My Fresh Basket could very well give a tortillaphile what a tortillaphile wants.


This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!



Taco Bell Egg Tacos

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I beat Taco Bell to the punch by designing my own egg taco, but now that the real thing is widely available… A tortillaphile has to get to the bottom of what possibly is the oddest creation in the Bell’s sordid history.

There are two egg tacos for you to enjoy: one naked, one dressed. These have to be the worst adjectives to describe any kinds of food, but I suppose we have to live with. A Naked Egg Taco and a Dressed Egg Taco. One sans a conventional1 tortilla, the other wrapped in one.

I have what I consider valid concerns over the eggs themselves. Knowing the Bell was once in a legal battle to prove their meat was the real deal and not a by-product, I suspect we are in a similar situation with the egg. If I was to use this for, say, baking, would I achieve the same result as with a store-bought egg? I doubt it.

The rubbery concoction has little flavor, and what’s there certainly does not taste like an egg. Grease, perhaps, but not the old fashion, diner kind. This oil can only exist in the Bell’s kitchens.

Wrapped inside the egg-tortilla is bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, and what could pass as a cheese sauce. There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about it, as you probably know what to expect from a Bell taco. Different wrapping, same content.

Should you go against my advice and try one of these, you probably want to steer toward the dressed taco. Not only because there is something inherently wrong with eating anything called a naked taco, but also because the tortilla masques some of Taco Bell’s (probably quite literally) patented flavors.

Really, though, stay far away from the egg tacos and Taco Bell in general. Only a trained professional should sink to these levels.

1 Conventional might be going a bit far. It’s more like a fluffy pita.


This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!


Hogwash Whiskey Den

I’ll tell you the one thing I don’t like about Hogwash. (Yes, there literally is only one thing I find displeasing.) I get it… I get they want to be a «speakeasy», but in 2017, with a Facebook page and an Instagram profile, I see little need in hiding your entrance. To their credit, they did do a good job at it, as multiple people in our party walked straight past it. Repeatedly.

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That aside.

We haven’t had anything but good things to say about the Santé crew’s undertakings so far, and little would suggest it will change anytime soon. When you finally do find the door, the locales have the underground vibe you (surely) had hoped for. Here you’ll find an open space that is not too loud, and well suited for socializing (at least if you can find a table). The light is suitably dim and creates a good ambiance.

I’m not personally a huge whiskey drinker, but I know what I like, and I have a good feel for what a decent Manhattan should taste like. Hogwash delivered it spot on: a simple drink with a kick; a bit of sweet with a side of burn1, where proper, high-quality ingredients did the grunt work. Go traditional or go wild and ask the bartenders for something out of the ordinary. Both worked for us, and the Krampus’ Slay delivered a good chaser (so to speak).

(And the heathen I am, I was a fan of the Negroni. The heart wants what the heart wants, even when it’s a gauche late evening apéritif.)

Not surprisingly — this is a Santé spin-off after all — the food went over well, too. For me, it was all about the Hogwash Burger, where the addition of a $3 egg is worth the splurge: the gooey result is quite delicious. Impressively, the bun didn’t soggy up either, which is always a bonus. This isn’t exactly Santé as far as the menu goes, but the food is anything but an afterthought, and seems carefully appropriated to go with the cocktails.

So yes, I will graciously forgive the door. Hogwash does everything else very, very well, and the only real excuse you would have for not going here would be that you’re underage. But hey, that’s what fake IDs are for, right?2

Update! Proprietor Jeremy Hansen called out on Facebook what now reasonably can only be called Doorgate. I’m sure a discussion could be had about both the current use of «speakeasy» and linguistic re-appropriation in general, but we’ll leave that for another time. Over to Jeremy:

Ok so! I do appreciate the fine words and the appreciation from a true and educated food enthusiast! But! Hogwash is not and was never intended to be a speak easy! And nowhere in our literature on instagrahm or FB says it is. And this is why, their is no such thing as a speakeasy in this day and age, and if I was faking it I’d have a password or a window with a light or something and no fb or insto. So no this is not a speakeasy and was never intended to be. And the only reason you can’t find the door is because, idk there’s a sign right there. Anyway, he entrance is the way it is because it’s literally the only way to get in. But thank you! And thank you for not kissing ass!


Tortilla Union

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Tortilla Union does everything right. Or, as it is, Tortilla Union does everything the right way. There’s a slight, but important difference between the two.

Imagine the scenario: You’ve watched an average movie, feeling averagely hungry, and hey, what do you know, you’re in a mall. What better place to find an average meal? You’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to us if you claim this has never happened to you. We are all guilty of it. We want convenience, but we don’t entirely want to give up on our ideals. We don’t want to lower ourselves to Red Robin.

And that is why Tortilla Union exists.

This is the place you tell your friends you went to after watching Suicide Squad, in a strange daze, feeling somewhat distraught at the lack of Jared Leto1. You «wanted something quick and simple to go with a drink». And you know what? Tortilla Union does that perfectly averagely. You won’t lose face going there—as long as you present the story with a roll of the eye and a chuckle—and you will walk out having forgotten the experience pretty much as soon as you’ve paid the check.

It’s like it was created for a mall, Tortilla Union2. It’s as inoffensive as it possibly can be. Gluten free options abound, and tacos complementing the average beer selection. You can happily eat and drink and socialize, well in knowledge of the two first not getting in the way of the third.

It would be charitable to call the carne asada «gently seasoned» as opposed to «bland», and the pickled onion really doesn’t add much to the party. The tortillas themselves? Well, they hold it all together at least.

It is what it is, Tortilla Union, and what it is, is either perfectly or criminally average, depending on your point of view.

1 Words I never thought I’d say, but what the hell, right?

2 Or malls were created for it.



Garageland

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Garageland: this is quite an awesome spot. Mixing a record store and a restaurant/bar1 results in a vibe any music lover can approve of, without it feeling hipper than thou or anything. Garageland is downright classy in its rock-y-poppy type of way. If Paul Simon2 was a restaurant, this is what he would be.

The hamburger: Very close—possibly closer during your future visit—but not quite there. Garageland’s eponymous sandwich certainly has the profile the team approves of. Complex, yet restrained. Caramelized onions, aioli, and a creamy cheese—Délice de Bourgogne at that. You don’t have to write a dissertation to figure out what’s going on with this burger. Plenty of deep flavors, yet all with an overall cleanness for your enjoyment.

A burger Paul Simon would enjoy, I dare say.

The preparation of the actual patty is where it went wrong during our visit. We ordered the burger medium, which in my mind is a lot more fair than the harder-to-make-to-order medium-rare. What we got was decidedly well-done, and a bit too close to the north side of that. High quality toppings are important, certainly, but you are left with a disappointing result when the main feature is less than awesome.

Hey, you might have better luck than us. Either way, Garageland should be visited. It’s an awesome spot; the burger just wasn’t entirely there.

1 It is family friendly by the way.

2 «You Can Call Me Al» was even playing.