They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For some, breakfast is a desperate attempt to quell what one of our photographers dubs “hanger” (with a hard “g”) – that perfect, wrathful intersection between hunger and anger; for others, it’s a way to jump-start metabolism or get a quick burst of energy to start the day.
Enter the egg sandwich. It’s a basic formula of “carbs + protein + grease = effective breakfast” known for its simplicity, not culinary genius. So when Parka added an egg sandwich to their menu, we had to try it. Because… it seemed safe. And after a rollercoaster of experiences with the kitchen — from a glorious first few encounters with dehydrated chevre powder-sprinkled Jell-O salad and garam masala-scented chicken soup to the “Parka roulette” that ensued — we were a tad cautious. Case in point: The recent pazole [sic], which vaguely resembled the hominy-studded, tangy soup that might result should Chef Boyardee attempt an adventurous cooking day in Central America. Or an otherwise crisp and tasty stack of onion rings unceremoniously drenched in an “espresso-mustard” sauce so bitter, so acrid, so pungent, it must have been dredged from a certain staff writer’s coffee “cellar” — or perhaps the compost bin.
But we loved the locally roasted Dogwood pourovers and the neon pink Synesso machine, and the warming, zippy Gray Duck Chai, and the impossibly flaky pastries from Rustica, and the refined fur-trapping artist chic of the “I-want-to-buy-it-all-but-I’m-too-broke-so-I’ll-buy-yet-another-cocktail-glass” adjoining furniture store… so we kept going back. And we embarked on an eggwich journey.
Because, like Parka, this eggwich has been evolving. The first iteration utilized protein in a different way: It featured a suspiciously perfect folded egg — a closer analog to the egg disc so common in the infamous Egg McMuffin — and swapped the traditional meat patty for an unctuous, tomatoey bacon jam and micro greens. But the bread — and this is where it went wrong — was one of those oddly dry, egg-washed torpedo rolls that instantly squashes upon taking a bite.
In a step in the right direction, Parka reincarnated the eggwich after a month off the menu. Only this time, it ditches the torpedo roll in favor of a lightly griddled biscuit. Gone is the folded egg; in its place is a fried one replete with runny yolk. Benton’s ham — the stuff from Tennessee so prized by David Chang and countless other celebrity chefs — is the star of the show, bringing its addictively smoky, salty A-game and enough texture to mitigate an otherwise gooey mess. A slice of aged cheddar adds a little earth and funk to the mix; a schmear of cinnamon apple butter cuts the salt and adds enough sweetness to make it sing. Each bite is a messy, gooey affair, one which tastes at once salty and smoky and sweet — then spurs you to have another. This isn’t perfectly balanced molecular gastronomy. This is breakfast crack.
At this point you’re already obeying conventional rules by eating your breakfast, so don’t bother eating your veggies: The eggwich’s accompanying micro greens are tossed in a pleasantly light but off-puttingly onion-forward dressing. The eggwich (and coffee, of course) is all you need — and, we can hope, all Parka needs to get their kitchen back on the right foot.
Parka, 4021 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406