Special Bonus Episode: Dunkin Avocado Toast
"Worth" is a tricky word.
I’ve been on a bit of a positivity kick lately but I’m still not inclined to dig too deeply into the silver-lining mine when it comes to evaluating the 100% sterling turd of a year the luckier amongst us have just endured. But as bad as it’s been for almost everyone, no one writing or reading this died, and a lot of us were afforded the grim luxury of hiding out in our houses the entire time. I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking everyone leads my exact lifestyle, but even folks who kept working 29.75 hours a week at two different retails jobs or dealt with severe illness or financial precarity were less likely to catch the flu, drink green beer, or eat breakfast at the airport over the past 12 months. It isn’t enough and it isn’t nothing. Airport breakfast sucks.
In less cursed times Emily and I like to fly on Christmas because no one else does, and if you’ve got to waste a half day of vacation traveling it might as well be the day when lots of bars are closed. HOWEVER you’d think that in a civilized society airport bars wouldn’t be subject to a yeowling still-wet Jesus’s puritanical whims; but we have the misfortune of flying out of Boston, a sad city wherein one mustn’t drink alcohol before noon on Sundays and apparently your messiah’s birthday is an honorary sabbath every year, which is what found me drinking goddamned ginger ale with my breakfast cheeseburger at the feloniously named Boston Beer Works at Logan on the morning of Tuesday, December 25, 2018. This is the only time in my life I’ve ever thought “Fuck, would have been better off at Dunkin Donuts.”
I generally do not care for the Dunkin product or experience. The coffee is not to my taste, and I’m not a breakfast cake kind of guy. In an ideal year I eat precisely three bagels, all of which have jalapeno cream cheese and come from wherever in Penn Station Em fetches them—someplace that starts with Z?—whilst I buy two oversized cans each of Cigar City Jai Alai and Bell’s Two Hearted before the 6 a.m. train back to Boston on a Monday morning. In a more common type of year I have those, plus the odd Dunkin joint heaved in here or there on the side of the road on the way back from a wedding or whatever.
This brings us to the new Dunkin Avocado Toast. I used to write about this kind of thing all the time and I miss it, the game if not the food itself. Fast food reviewing is one of the trickier trades I’ve jacked, because the reports are worthless if they can’t find the right balance between leading cheers for gross PR stunts and haughtily dismissing food that was simply not engineered for excellence. Most of this stuff objectively sucks and everyone knows that, so it’s weak to seek the shittiest of it to rip apart. The real fun, and hopefully service, is in finding out that a $7 McDonald’s lobster roll is pretty damn acceptable.
This, much like the final sentence of the paragraph immediately prior, brings us to the new Dunkin Avocado Toast. It’s important for all critics to examine their biases and experiences, so let me here state that they had toast when I was a kid but avocados hadn’t come out yet, so I was not prepared for this combination to become such a popular breakfast option whenever that happened, say 2013 or so. I am also not a combatant in the fictional generation wars, because I may be one dum scumb but I know better than to get bogged down in that bullshit, which is just birthday phrenology invented by marketers, and unlike astrology, the category leader in pretending that it matters when your parents got raw, generational theory is beloved not by whimsical bisexuals but rather by deodorant pushers and avocado scolds.
So my angle is I don’t like Dunkin Donuts but I do like toast and avocados and the blessed union thereof, and it’s such a simple concept that I figured there was a fair chance Dunkin could pull off a credible rendition. To the donuttery!
The closest outlet to my house is the skanky one in between the pop-up police station and the mask-optional liquor store in Cambridge’s beautiful Central Square. This Dunkin does not allow dining-in during the pandemic, which aligns nicely with my policy to never eat inside a fast food place because if I’ve got time to settle in for a leisurely meal I’ve got time to find someplace better to eat. This means I didn’t try my toast fresh off the conveyor belt, but I figured if the 600 steps home would significantly degrade the experience then what are we even doing here?
That said, it must be acknowledged that even under the best of circumstances avocado is a medium-wet food, so I was prepared for my toast to be somewhat soggy by the time I got it home. And it was! But maybe not much more so than a better restaurant’s would have been, because to Dunkin’s credit the avocado spread seemed to lack the sort of slickening agent common to the genre. I understand the value of these food lubes, but successfully replicated texture is one of the easiest ways to trick my fool tongue, and good job by the donut kings on that score. The avocado element wasn’t exactly chunky, but neither was it all lewd and greasy.
More important than all that: The flavor of the goo was fine and the bread was downright good! Sour for sure and they also nailed the admittedly easier taste sensation of “dough.” The bread’s relative thinness does exacerbate the sog problem, but it also keeps things at a reasonable 240 not-nutritionally-calamitous calories for your $3 breakfast. (Regarding the picture below: my preparer opted to turn the affair into a closed-casket avocado funeral, so imagine this with half the bread and double the avocado thickness on the one slice.)
Dunkin purports its Avocado Toast to contain the following multitudes: an avocado spread of the main thing, salt, pepper, and lemon; sourdough bread; and Everything Bagel seasoning. As you can see in the photo, the haphazardly scattered seasoning did indeed represent the full range of known Things including salt, pepper, four hunks of salt that look like sesame seeds, the love your father withheld, a couple dozen flakes of pepper reassembled to evoke poppy seeds, and garlic powder. It was all fine. I’ll eat this at the airport before the next time I let a place with BEER in the name lie to me.
OK thanks for reading all this. I’ll be back in a day or two with a beer post, but in case I forget or refuse let me disclose that the first thing I drank last week was a can of Notch Tafelbier, a 2.8% ABV Belgian number with a subtle and probably imaginary cherry note that I chugged in the park at quitting time of a glorious 74-degree late-winter Thursday. There’s a whole big little story there of course, so maybe next time.