April 19, 2008

A Complete Compliment

Complimentary continental breakfasts have consistently been available at hotel chains for a considerable time. Aside from the plethora of hard "c" sounds these complimentary continentals provide, they offer a good way to start the morning with some coffee and toast. You never have to leave your room or unfold a wallet. Whether you're vacationing or on a business trip, it's nice to not have to worry about where to grab the "most important meal of the day."

But what about a complimentary breakfast with more punch? If a light breakfast is good, logic would indicate a more comprehensive one would be better. At Holiday Inns, the complimentary breakfast is comprehensive, and the complementary breakfast is better.

The hotel I visited was well-stocked. Fluffy egg patties folded over melted cheese, sticky buns, sausage, and biscuits and gravy were all basking under heat lamps. For the hotel breakfast traditionalist, bagels, toast and yogurt were farther down the counter.

Don't expect the highest quality from the food, and it will make your morning. It's not room service at the Mayflower Hotel, but it's substantial. The only complaint of any consequence I had was that my eggs got cool quickly. If the good people at Holiday Inn had ratcheted up the heat lamp or if I had eaten them first, there wouldn't have been any problem.

Take one piece of advice: Have some biscuits and gravy. While not the most healthy combination, it makes an amazing taste that should be enjoyed when traveling. Count calories at home, come to complimentary breakfast ready to eat.

This is a credible hot breakfast that earns four sporks out of five. Holiday Inn got it almost completely correct, and receives my compliments.

April 9, 2008

Melted Morphology

"Misnomer ... Noun ... A use of a wrong or inappropriate name."

That's what Merriam-Webster says on m-w.com. It's also a good definition of Taco Bell's new Cheesy Beefy Melt.

It might seem impossible to mislabel something with two adjectives in its name. Taco Bell's latest addition to the menu might as well be a blueprint on how to do just that.

Start by stressing the fact that your food item is cheesy, but don't make it much cheesier than other items on the menu. Despite the fact that the commercials for this thing may set an American record for the amount of stringy cheese hanging out of peoples' mouths within a 30-second time slot, the melt doesn't taste any cheesier than, say, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch or Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes. In fact, the latter two items probably have a more predominantly cheesy flavor.

Next, feature "beef" in the name, but allow that beef to be overpowered by the taste of your seasoned rice. It rhymes true that rice is nice, but the grain should not be the dominant texture and flavor in a Cheesy Beefy Melt.

Finally, don't bother to differentiate this "melt" from any other food on the menu involving cheese. It wasn't served any warmer than some of The Bell's other tepid offerings, and the cheese just blended in with the other ingredients like normal Taco Bell fare. There was no unique interaction of tastes -- no cheese playing off beef, no special seasonings, nothing. The word "melt" seems to have been used because the marketing mongols needed a word that sounded different from the other ones on the drive-through board.

And aside from the price, the Cheesy Beefy Melt does only sound different from any of Taco Bell's other offerings. It's even wrapped in one of their basic flour tortillas. There is virtually no taste difference, but you will spork out just over three bucks for one.

If I'm going to spend that much cash on one item at Taco Bell, I at least want to eat something that's named accurately. Two out of five sporks.