The Bacon and Egg Roll Road Test
The Bacon and Egg Roll Project bloggers share their crispy, gooey, saucy knowledge.
July 03, 2014
If any sandwich were to receive an Order of Australia medal, it would be the bacon and egg roll. Artfully combining everyone’s favourite breakfast combo (bacon and eggs) with everyone’s favourite carbohydrate vehicle (bread), this humble sandwich attracts widespread adoration. You can get one for a few coins at a barbecue outside your local Bunnings or for the hefty fee of $16 at Bronte’s chef-hatted cafe Three Blue Ducks.
Recently, the B&E has undergone several makeovers, acting as the battleground for cafe chefs to flex their breakfast sandwich muscle. During this road test we discovered rolls flirting with cafe foods of the moment like slaw, aioli, brioche and, of course, the vegetable steadily taking over the planet one green-smoothie-obsessed-young-professional at a time: kale.
But no trendy food fad can fool The Bacon and Egg Roll Project. The blog — run by Concrete Playground reviewer Kara Jensen-Mackinnon and her colleague at The Roast Evan Williams — is dedicated to rigorous B&E taste testing in order to ultimately crown one bacon and egg roll to rule them all. Here’s a smorgasbord of their most telling B&E experiences so far.
The B&E at Three Blues Ducks is so goddamn delicious, I wouldn’t have cared if I walked away from that eating experience pregnant. The egg was glorious, with a yolk as runny as yolk can be without it being raw and gross. This B&E was packing two condiments: a pimento relish, which provided a satisfyingly saccharine note to combo alongside an herbed hollandaise. Said hollandaise coated the toasted bun with its herby goodness, and it’s slight lemon tang made it easier to forget I was fundamentally coating my bacon fat in liquid fat. My only beef, aside from the obscene price, was that the bacon was a little too thick. I’m not particularly fond of a thick slice of bacon, especially when it crosses into ham steak territory. At no point during my breakfast eating do I like being reminded that I’m eating the cooked muscle of a dead animal, and when a slice of bacon is too thick, that’s all I can think about it. In my opinion, bacon should never be thicker than an ant standing on all six legs. Rating: 7/10. Price: $16
143 Macpherson Street, Bronte
Outside Newtown's Urban Bites cafe is a sign advertising a B&E special for just $5. “$5? I haven’t seen a B&E priced that low since a Saturday morning sports barbecue in the '90s,” I’ve thought many times when walking past the sign. After having this thought for perhaps the 15th time, I decided it may be worth forking out the fiver. Now, I don’t mind eating a cheap, basic bacon and egg roll. There’s no prerequisite for enjoyment that B&Es contain ‘housemade relish’ or be served on wooden boards. But there is one prerequisite for enjoyment: that the B&E is at least substantially bigger than my Macquarie University student card. As you can see by the side-by-side photo, the Urban Bites B&E failed this test. Also, if that photo doesn’t tell enough of a story, you should know that I consumed the entire B&E in just four bites. (Those were normal-size bites, not hot dog eating contest bites.) On the plus side, the bacon and the roll were passable. If size isn’t a factor, and you like your B&E’s with a pile of rocket next to them, then perhaps it’s worth a try? For the rest of you, not recommended. Rating: 3/10 Price: $5
72 King Street, Newtown
Three Williams in Redfern, with its polished wood, exposed copper pipes and expensive lighting fixtures, is everything you want your future adult loft apartment to be and more. This particular B&E is comprised of bacon, chilli egg and the curious additions of pickled slaw and ranch dressing, served on a toasted brioche bun. Now, the slaw was a major curve ball, there was a load of it on the roll, so the whole salt/sweet flavour balance of the B&E was off. I guess the real issue here is, I just don’t get slaw. I mean, it’s coleslaw right? At what point did we decide to universally drop the cole and start calling it slaw? Rating: 6/10 Price: $13
613a Elizabeth Street, Redfern
When a co-founder of the Bacon and Egg Roll Project visits a cafe that has ‘pig’ in its name, there’s going to be some high expectations. I had already placed an enormous burden on staff at Petersham’s The Pig & Pastry: this bacon better be the best goddam bacon to ever cross paths with my taste buds, or I’m writing a letter to the local council formally requesting your cafe remove ‘pig’ from its name. Fortunately, I won’t be sending that letter, as this bacon is indeed the best bacon to cross paths with my taste buds. To articulate the beauty of this cured meat through the limited form of human language is an unenviable task. It’s crispy to a fault, yet sufficiently succulent; it’s not overly fatty or oily, but neither is it immaculate and prissy. Essentially, this bacon is like a female CEO who is also successfully raising a family: it somehow manages to have it all. The rest of the package ain’t too shabby neither. A soft bap, grilled tomato and housemade tomato sauce all impress. The Pig & Pastry’s B&E is a triumph of the highest order. Merely reflecting on their bacon while writing this has sent me into a transcendent state I previously believed could only be achieved through years of strict Buddhist meditation. Rating: 9.5/10 Price: $9
1 Station Street, Petersham
The upside to the B&E at the Boathouse in Balmoral is that it’s served on a plank of polished wood outside in the sunshine on a deck suspended over the ocean. The downside is that you have to wait half an hour just for a table. I suggest heading to the Boathouse at least 40 minutes before you feel like you’re about to be hungry, otherwise you’ll risk causing a scene when you take bite out of someone’s face like that creepy dude who did all that bath salt. This B&E comes with a severe amount of B in varying degrees of crispiness coated with a sweet tomato relish encased in a toasted, perfectly chewy roll. My only real issue was the E. You see, my particular egg was overcooked and the yoke was too firm; jealousy washed over me as I noted at neighbouring tables, golden yokes were cascading over unsuspecting eater’s chins without eliciting so much as a grin. Rating: 8/10 Price: $12
2 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach
Wedge Espresso’s B&E breaks many bacon and egg roll rules. There’s ham instead of bacon, a panini instead of a roll, cheese and avocado, and, I’m told by the menu, an egg which has been “smashed”. Let’s start with the ham. To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve caught a cafe trying this. I’ve seen Cornersmith in Marrickville and Raglands in Redfern also attempt the ham-bacon switcheroo. When you’re achin’ for some bacon — as I so often am — it’s hard to consider it anything other than straight-up fraud. A ham scam, if you will. But on this occasion, I must admit I don’t feel swindled. Maybe that’s because there are a lot of extras packed into this B&E. The aioli, avocado, cheese, tomato and rocket remind me a lot of Bill Murray and Wes Anderson: together, they achieve greatness. And salt and pepper flakes and a dash of olive oil on top of the panini are a nice touch also. Sure, Wedge Espresso break some B&E rules, but they’re the rebellious student with so much darn charm you can accept the ham scams and egg smashing. Rating: 7/10 Price: $13
53/55 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
I’ll let you in on a secret; I used to think relish was weird. While out at breakfast I’d openly say things like, “So it’s like a sauce jam hybrid? No thanks.” Gather on the Green in Camperdown was where I had my very first bacon and egg roll with relish experience, and it’s a moment I won’t soon forget. Which is why I consider the Gather on the Green bacon and egg roll with relish one of the best B&Es in the inner west. It boasts perfectly runny egg, super satisfying bacon and the perfect chewy roll. And not only that, this B&E taught me three valuable lessons: to try new things, that a sauce jam hybrid isn’t so weird, and that relish far surpasses any other sauce option on a bacon and egg roll, because (1) It makes you feel like a baller, and (2) It brings necessary sweet tang to the B&E combo. Rating: 9/10 Price: $6.50
15 Fowler Street, Camperdown
There’s lots of things in life I’m not sure about: android operating systems, jazz-fusion, Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. But occasionally, there is something in life I’m sure about, and at the moment I’m sure that Runcible Spoon’s bacon and egg roll is one of the best in Sydney. With seriously charred bacon, a perfectly runny egg and sourdough of that not-too-soft, not-too-chewy, just-right-consistency, the RS B&E is kicking goals all over the park. The only bone I can pick is that it’s not exactly structurally sound. Throughout consumption I could practically hear the B&E screaming, “it’s not going to hold!” as its delicious contents began spilling outside of the confines of the roll. So be prepared, by brekkie’s end, your plate is going to be scattered with various bacon and egg rubble. But good news, there’s another thing in life I’m sure about: bacon and egg rubble is the best kind of rubble to have to clean up. Rating: 8.5/10 Price: $8
27 Barr Street, Camperdown
The Butchers Cafe
Any place that shares a common wall with a bacon depository is a place where I want to eat bacon. The Butchers cafe is located a pork chop’s throw away from an actual butcher packed with meats so glorious that I can only imagine they are a constant feature in local dogs’ wet dreams. Now, this B&E is wonderfully old fashioned; there are no brioche buns in sight, just the most basic of ingredients cooked to perfection. The bacon, sourced next door, is impossibly thin, and as I’ve established in previous posts, I run on a platform of thin rashers. How glorious it would be to live in a world where all bacon rashers were so thin they were semi-transparent? As for the other B&E components: the egg was perfectly cooked and runny and the roll had superior chew factor, the only downside was the complete lack of sauce. Rating: 8/10 Price: $6.60
152 Sydney Road, Fairlight
"Kale and Egg Roll $8.50 + Bacon: $2.50", reads In the Annex’s menu. My mouth becomes dry; cold sweats begin to surface. Kale as the main ingredient and bacon as an extra? That’s the equivalent of Hoyts showing the movie 'Robin' and making people pay extra if they want it to include Batman. But, as I eat this Forest Lodge cafe’s B&E (or K&B&E), I find I’m very quickly also eating my words. The kale, which I assumed would be awkwardly hanging around outside the bacon and egg friend circle, actually fits in and gets along with everyone. And the bacon, being a particularly crispy number, is easily worth the extra coin. The glue holding the whole thing together is a combination of two condiments: aioli and chilli relish. When mixed during consumption, they create an intriguing lava-esque colour. Each bite feels a bit like a volcanic eruption, and my fingers decide to make like Pompeii circa 79 AD and get deliciously buried in the stuff. I leave In the Annex stunned. Two miracles took place: I enjoyed kale, and wasn’t annoyed about having to pay extra for bacon. It won’t be long till I’m back eating this B&E — and my words — again. Rating: 7.5/10 Price: $11
35 Ross Street, Forest Lodge
By Kara Jensen-Mackinnon and Evan Williams.
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