Secret menu items are all the rage, or at least they have been for some time now. From Starbucks to In-And-Out Burger to Chipotle and so on, these so-called off menu items are the holy grail of in the know foodies who want to feel like they are trying something other folks don't know about--like they are in some secret foodie spy ring or something. Just say the magic words to the cashier or server and they will nod or wink knowingly and poof, like magic, a dish that is not on the menu for the world to see, presents itself for your culinary amusement. These dishes are not limited to chain restaurants either, supposedly homegrown faves also offer these off-menu dishes, again, if you are in the know. Sometimes I follow this out of amusement, sometimes I decide to give one a try to see what all the fuss is about. Such was the case when news that Adam Richman was in town filming his new show Man Finds Food and trying 4 "secret menu" items in San Francisco. One of those dishes is at Little Skillet in SOMA. Since it is around the corner from where I live, it was an easy choice to try it out.
I've been to Little Skillet a lot and like them. They are one of the go to spots in town for fried chicken and waffles. The "secret" dish in question is something called Eggs McMahon--a waffle topped with sausage gravy and a fried egg. It sounded like a tasty down home Southern treat I could get on board with and I hadn't had anything with sausage gravy in awhile sooo..... On a random weekday afternoon I sauntered over their small window on Ritch Street and when I got to the counter I looked the girl straight in the eye and said I'll take one of those Eggs McMahon. After a beat it seemed her eyes began to glaze over and she gave me a look like "WTF are you talking about." That was the look. What she said was, "I'm sorry what?" I repeated it again and still, she had not idea what I was asking. I said "isn't there something called that? You know, a waffle with gravy and an egg?" She said, "well you can order those things separately if that's what you want." By this time I was all in and a line was forming behind me so I said "yeah, just give a waffle with sausage gravy and a side of fried egg and while you are at it throw in a side of bacon." She was like "Ok." Seems this secret menu item is so secret that even folks who work there have no idea what it is. Anyway, here's what I got:
Bacon, a fried egg, 2 waffles and a cup of sausage gravy all for the relatively moderate price of $9.75--the cost when you order them all as sides. To be honest, I thought it was a good price and actually, it made it one of the less expensive things on their menu, go figure. And, if you take out the side of bacon that didn't necessarily come with it, it would have been about $7. This is what the version you actually get looks like, but I decided to plate it all up (something I don't normally do with takeout) to make it look like a full on dish.
I don't know, I could kind of see this being an actual dish somewhere. I mean the price is right and the components fit in with the recent rise in the Southern food trend hitting San Francisco. How was it? I liked it. The gravy was thick and full of chunky bits of sausage and notes of black pepper. The waffles were nice crispy squares of a buttermilk Belgium style--not real sweet and a good compliment to the gravy. I did add some butter to them, because that's what I do. You do get a small thing of syrup with them but I passed as it was way too sweet for me--kind of a cinnamon maple thing and I was in a savory mood. The egg was nicely fried and as a side of bacon I got 4 pieces (that's a lot!) of crispy salty goodness. As a totally unhealthy Southern breakfast, it was spot on and yummy. As a secret menu item, well, is it really a secret if everyone and or no one even knows about it? I guess that would be a discussion for another column.
Till then, I would recommend this as my own little personal secret menu thing since the bacon is my addition. I'll call it the "I Clogged My Arteries In San Francisco". But remember, this is just between us and you'll have to figure out your way to order it and between you and me, we'll know exactly what it is--secret menus and clueless servers be damned!