It’s a weird crossroad when bigger restaurants and food companies start latching onto some of the left-of-center food trends. Putting bacon on unexpected things isn’t a new concept, by any means, but it’s still a big “huh?” moment for a lot of people.
If you have watched a few episodes of Unwrapped, or some of those Travel Channel “Top 10 Places to Get Really Fat” specials, you are already familiar with Voodoo Doughnut’s Maple Bacon Bar. That is only one of countless products that has blended the salty and fatty greatness of bacon with an unexpected (and almost always sweet) partner.
I even reviewed one of these two years ago, and since my laziness rarely puts anything I review in “breaking news” territory, you know the bacon craze had reached a sense of marginal acceptance by the average person.
Niche doughnuts and chocolate bars are one thing. When chain restaurants start serving strange bacon products, that’s when “putting bacon in or on anything” has become almost standard practice.
I have absolutely no idea how widespread the Village Inn chain is. I looked online for a few minutes, and figured, “That’s enough effort – I guess I’ll never know.” For those not familiar, Village Inn is similar to Denny’s or IHOP, minus the inherent sadness of those places. Maybe it’s closer to Perkins, since both are famous for their pies.
Village Inn is one of those glorious restaurants where meal rules don’t apply. My usual meal there usually consists of some sort of crepe or French toast, covered in sweetened cream cheese and strawberries in strawberry syrup. This kind of “meal” would be frightening to have for dessert. But have it at a “breakfast all day” restaurant, and somehow logic gets deformed and this becomes an acceptable dinner.
Besides eating a plate covered in starch and sugar, as I mentioned before Village Inn is best known for their pies. Most of their pies are awesome, though a lot of the fruit pies fall victim to that “five inches of empty space between the top and bottom crusts, while the fruit filling just pours out onto the plate” syndrome.
Their most recent creation is their entry into the land of food perversion by way of bacon. They call it the “Salty Hog Pie”.
I had minor doubts about the pie, because besides the piece of bacon on top, it seemed like an otherwise straight forward recipe. Granted, a “straight forward recipe” that had about seven layers of stuff, but none of those layers had any bacon-ness.
A quick attempt to break down the pie, from top to bottom:
Roasted almonds and caramel
French Silk (which to me is a fancy term for “sort of a cross between pudding and frosting”)
Salted caramel and roasted almonds
Pie crust (that part you probably figured out)
Immediately, I went for the piece of bacon on top. The bacon was candied, and was incredible. I’m sure it’s a fairly easy process, so I have to figure out how to do this at home. If it’s not an easy process, I will give up. After all, that’s the American way!
Put on your 3D glasses!
After the bacon was devoured, it was on to the pie itself. The first few bites were really good. Unfortunately, it soon turned into one of those situations where it is so rich, and all a very similar texture, where the sweetness and richness because a bit overwhelming.
The pie is really good, to be sure. However the monotonous texture made the second half of the slice a far less pleasant experience. What would have greatly improved the pie would be if there were little bits of the candied bacon, mixed into one of the other layers. Also, upping the saltiness of the “salted” caramel would have made for a nice flavor contrast. More almonds would have helped the texture to be something other than “sugary mush”.
Overall, the Salty Hog Pie is really good, despite what sounds like some major complaints. It’s unfortunate, because a few small tweaks would have made the pie absolutely incredible. Instead, it is just a good pie with a bacon-related novelty they didn’t fully embrace. Oddly enough, the fact that there wasn’t enough bacon held it back.
Seriously though, I need to go look up how to make candied bacon. I want about four pounds of it. For a snack.