Denny’s Baconalia: A Look at Bacon Meatloaf

Out of the seven “new” items on the Denny’s Baconalia Menu, the one that struck me as being both inventive and appetizing was the Bacon MeatloafThe Maple Bacon Sundae was certainly inventive, but I must admit not particularly appetizing (although, I did end up enjoying it) and the rest of the items all looked appealing, but didn’t strike me as groundbreaking.  The meatloaf, I thought, at least has one foot out of the box.

As we awaited the white coated servers at the Denny’s Test Kitchen to serve our next trial sized dish, our hosts explained the makeup of their creation.  There were bits of bacon mixed in with the traditional ingredients to form the “loaf” and there were now bits of me wondering if I qualified as a “loaf” for actually being excited to try it. The meatloaf was adorned with a specially made smoky sweet ketchup and sizeable chunks of traditional hickory bacon. To me, the proper or improper use of ketchup is what makes or breaks meatloaf.  Too much, and you want to gag, too little and you may as well have a hamburger without a bun.  Additionally, the taste (or brand) of ketchup is of high importance.  If you go with cheap, off-brand stuff made out of high fructose corn syrup and Red #4, it makes the loaf too sweet.  I prefer Heinz, but the stuff Denny’s came up with was top shelf and it had a perfect mild flavor that really complimented the extra meatiness of the bacon laden meatloaf.  To wrap up, this stuff tastes good.

Now on to the texture.  I think many people, if not grossed out by the ketchup element of meatloaf, are turned off by the idea of just eating a slab of cohesive ground meat.  Striking a balance between the loaf falling apart when sliced and getting a dense rubbery consistency is the hardest part about making meatloaf.  When we were presented our sample from the test kitchen, I was pleased to see that they had paid attention to this detail and had found that happy medium. The loaf was easy to cut with a fork, but didn’t fall apart once on the end.  But… this was the test kitchen.  How would this product hold up if it was served to me at a real Denny’s? Well, I had to find out, so I ventured off to my local outpost and ordered it up.  The meal comes with two sides and dinner bread.  I chose the onion rings and fiesta corn.  I was served the onion rings and regular corn, but no worries, I was here to give the meatloaf a quality control check, not the sides.

As I suspected, the meatloaf in the actual Denny’s was a bit more rubbery, taking on the form of a patty, rather than a slice.  The taste, on the other hand held true, right down to the specialty ketchup topping. In the end, the problem might have more to do with presentation than it does with texture, but nonetheless there’s something a little unappetizing about its Swanson Frozen Dinner-like appearance.  That being said, I did finish my plate and left the restaurant satisfied.  For $8.99, this might seem a bit pricey, given Denny’s reputation as a low cost road trip pit stop, but with the two sides and bread, I didn’t feel taken.

Pros: Good meaty taste, complimented by an artfully constructed smoky ketchup topping.

Cons: Looks like it was stamped out of a meatloaf slice shaped machine; texture a bit rubbery.

9 comments on “Denny’s Baconalia: A Look at Bacon Meatloaf

  1. Adam says:

    Nice job with checking out the real world application Murray. But one thing: wasn’t Heinz made with high fructose corn syrup for years? I tend to prefer it, perhaps because I’m used to drier, less fatty meatloafs, and the sweetness of HFCS doesn’t seem so overpowering in that context. I’m not one to get meatloaf often and won’t be getting this at Denny’s, but interesting to see how they mix in the bacon bits.

  2. SkippyMom says:

    The test kitchen was true meatloaf in appearance and presentation. You seemed to have received a hamburger with meatloaf ingredients at you local Denny’s which is unacceptable to me – I don’t want a crust all the way around as a hamburger has – no offense.

    And the corn is a fail, but you are very fair that you were there to check out the meatloaf. I would’ve been disappointed tho’ as I love fiesta/mexi corn.

    We make a pretty basic meatloaf and although my hubs tries to order meatloaf when he goes out, he inevitably says “it’s not as good as yours.”

    For Denny’s to be successful there has to be some pretty sucky meatloaf being made at home in the world. 🙂

  3. Francois says:

    It resembles something that I try to avoid stepping in when I visit a milk farm.

  4. nuttyturnip says:

    My friend and I were pleasantly surprised when we went to Dennys a few weeks ago. My Bacon Meatloaf came out looking much like yours (I got real fiesta corn though), and its bland appearance belied how good it actually tasted. My friend’s bacon pancakes were equally tasty. Having never had a good dining experience at Dennys before this, I’m now willing to give them another shot with this new bacon menu.

  5. Crusader says:

    Guys, it’s Denny’s. What do you want?

  6. Mattitude says:

    Looks delicious…I have to get to a Denny’s soon!

  7. LW says:

    I also echo how refreshing it is to see you go out and try the actual product in an actual Denny’s. I don’t think I usually see that happen on the ol’ blogosphere.

  8. somesteve says:

    can’t get behind this. love bacon. hate meatloaf

  9. Bob says:

    What do you expect from a place that has to advertise bacon?