Chef Alvin Cailan’s wildly popular Eggslut has recently graduated from food truck to full on all-day egg bar at Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. Eggslut has been a bit of a cult favorite among LA coffee aficionados thanks to the truck’s roving tour outside some of the cities best cafes, and the affection is certainly mutual. To prove his love of coffee, Mr. Cailan has developed a coffee bacon jam burger, featuring coffee from Grand Central Market neighbors G&B Coffee.
Coffee bacon jam, people! When I heard that, well, I just had to head down and find out how to make this magical concoction immediately. Luckily Mr. Cailan was happy to share his secrets.
First, a little backstory. After some years in Portland attending Oregon Culinary School and working at Clyde Common, Olympic Provisions, Ten 01, and Castagna, Mr. Cailan moved south to continue cooking up a storm in Los Angeles at places like MB Post. Mr. Cailan then took his love of all eggy things to the streets and launched his Eggslut truck.
Coffee bars owners came knocking almost immediately. The Eggslut truck made the rounds with regular stints in front of Coffee Commissary, The Hart & the Hunter, and Handsome Coffee Roasters. This tour-de-coffee led to a big opportunity. Kevin West of West Preserves and Saving the Season had been tasked by the owners of the historic Grand Central Market to help them add some new artisanal vendors and fresh energy to the historic downtown destination, while keep the traditions of the landmark marketplace.
In came G&B Coffee (covered by Sprudge here), Valerie Confections, and Sticky Rice, along with Eggslut’s first non-truck, permanent real-deal location to cook their stellar Egg Sluts (a marvel of pureed potato and egg) along with some seriously yummy egg sandwiches and burgers.
Okay, now back to that burger: a brioche bun slathered with savory and sweet coffee bacon jam, a thick burger patty, a generous hunk of Stilton cheese, and a fried egg. Sounds heavenly? It is.
The first step in making the bacon jam is simmering G&B coffee and bacon. When Eggslut moved into Grand Central Market, they didn’t see any point in competing with the awesomeness going on at G&B, so they chose to serve coffee brewed at G&B, ushered over carafe by carafe. Enjoying a cup of expertly brewed G&B coffee with an Egglsut Fairfax scrambled egg sandwich is a truly excellent pairing.
For the burger’s jam, Mr. Cailan starts with the coffee leftover from the day before and pours the cold coffee over the top of bacon layered in a pot. The coffee and bacon mixture simmers on the stove for about 30 minutes. Cailan then makes a gastrique of apple cider vinegar and sugar, strains the bacon and coffee, and pops it in a Vitamix with caramelized onions. He adds a not-so-small small mountain of super crispy bacon in for texture. The whole thing cooks down on the stove again with the gastrique to tighten it up.
While we sat at the counter tasting a classic slut (all in the name of journalism you know) customers asked Mr. Cailan questions about the process for making this signature dish. He said it’s simple: potatoes cooked to the perfect texture, run though a food mill, with lots of butter added. Chef Neal Fraser of Fritzi Dog also stopped by to order breakfast while we were deep in our eggslut.
For the burger, Mr. Cailan uses Stilton cheese from Grand Central Market neighbors DTLA Cheese. Mr. Cailan cites a classic bacon cheese pub burger as his inspiration. We talked about favorite burgers in LA (In-N-Out, Plan Check) then geared up for the taste. It’s good, really good. All my thumbs up. (How many stars can I give it?)
Mr. Cailan says that his bacon jam odyssey began with the observation that LA people really like the combination of salty and sweet food. As to the question of greens on the burger… no way! Mr. Cailan has fond childhood memories of visiting New Jersey where adding any vegetable, lettuce or tomato would have been sacrilege. He prefers a composed burger, with no leafy greens, ketchup, or mustard.
Mr. Cailan drinks brewed coffee in the morning, around three cold brews in the afternoon and an espresso in the evening. With a habit that serious, it’s no surprise that the LA coffee community loves him.
Though Eggslut no longer has a truck to park at Handsome Coffee Roasters, co-owner Michael Phillips will always think of their time together fondly. “People come to Handsome for great simple coffee. And the Eggslut menu is very similar. They specialize in eggs. They do it very well. It has the ability to develop a cult attraction. People who love Eggslut really love Eggslut. They would come from a long way away. They have a devoted following. They have that… ‘This is us. This is what we do. Love it or leave it’. That attitude helped them develop a really devoted following.”
In the days when Eggslut parked out in front of the Palihotel by The Hart and the Hunter, customers could bring their eggs inside and order a coffee made by Nicely Abel Alameda. “As amazing as the food is, even more amazing is the man behind it,” gushes Nicely. “He’s a wonderfully talented chef that has always made me feel his community dedication. Through his passion and then the food. Our passions combined made for some beautiful mornings out in front of The Hart and the Hunter. Our services really felt like a big family breakfast.”
G&B Coffee co-owner Kyle Glanville, winner of the 2014 Sprudgie for Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Excellence, is also a big fan. Eggslut flanks the Broadway side of Grand Central Market, while G&B Coffee greets shoppers on the Hill Street side. Most days you will find G&B baristas eating at Eggslut and Eggslut staff getting coffee at G&B.
Grand Central Market has become a premier Los Angeles destination for food adventures with all of its new food and beverage offerings (Press Brothers Juicery, DTLA Cheese, with Wexler’s Deli, Olio GCM and Belcampo Meat Co about to open). The Eggslut Coffee Bacon Jam Burger is sure to become one of the standout offerings at the market, once it makes its formal debut very soon. Go check it out, and then wash it down with some 49th Parallel and Ritual coffee at G&B.