This week I reached out for a Big Brunch Burger, part of the new Ultimate Steakburgers lineup at America's 24/7 breakfast bar, IHOB (note the name change), with 1,800 restaurants dotting all 50 states.
That's "IHOB," for the time being. Did you fall for the publicity stunt? The iconic pancake chain will resume its well-worn, familiar IHOP name in about a month, when the ad campaign runs its course. The IHOB ruse was to draw attention to its new burgers. The idea is IHOP is more than a breakfast nook, it's an all-purpose, full-menu diner, IHOP wants a piece of America's obsession with burgers.
Thing is, IHOP has always served burgers, right from opening day in 1958. They're just getting serious about burgers now, and they mean business — at the cash register on your way out.
A temporary name change isn't exactly new: Remember when Prince went by an unpronounceable symbol from 1993 to 2000? Roseanne Barr altered her closing credit to Roseanne Arnold during her 1990-1994 marriage to actor Tom Arnold. Kentucky Fried Chicken changed to KFC in 1991 and back to Kentucky Fried Chicken in 2006.
Here's the Big Brunch Burger breakdown: a 1/4-pound patty of 100-percent USDA Black Angus beef, hickory-smoked bacon, fried egg, American cheese, golden hash browns and IHOP's signature sauce on a toasted bun.
Total calories: 1,040. Fat grams: 61. Sodium: 2,210 mg. Carbs: 43 g. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Served with unlimited fries. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $11.99.
The Big Brunch is breakfast and lunch on a bun, with calories and price to match. It lives up to its billing, it's big, and my new favorite thing on the IHOP menu. Tied for second: the Colorado Omelette and all-you-can-eat pancakes. (If they ever build a fast food hall of fame, IHOP's legendary buttermilk pancakes are a first-ballot lock.)
IHOP/IHOB doesn't miss a trick with the Big Brunch — this goes for the rest of its Ultimate Steakburgers. It starts with a hunk of Black Angus beef, tossed on a flat grill and smushed with a spatula so the edges get crispy. That's how a burger is supposed to be cooked, with a little crunch on the first bite.
A few years ago, at a joint called The Bird in Hamburg, I tried my first burger with an egg on top. I was hooked. IHOP's egg on the Big Brunch is perfect, fried over-easy so the yolk is runny and covers the burger patty. It's a delicious, oozy mess. Just push the napkin dispenser to my side of the table.
The bacon is lean and hefty, and the cheese is just starting to melt. The Big Brunch Burger is made to order, so it's a good ol' double handful of warm comfort food.
Here are the other Ultimate Steakburgers: The Classic ($6.99), Cowboy BBQ ($10.99), Jalapeno Kick ($10.99), The Classic with Bacon ($9.99), Mushroom & Swiss ($9.99) and Mega Monster Double ($11.99).
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know in the comments or on Twitter.