This tangent that will bring us back to the Honey Baked Ham Cafe.
Last week I had a huge craving for Boston Market.
My mind swirled with nostalgic cravings for a rotisserie chicken or meatloaf platter with the orange macaroni and cheese that always tastes more disappointing than it looks (yet you order it every time anyway).
I was surprised to to find that all of the Boston Markets in Minnesota have closed. Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota have zero Boston Markets. Wisconsin has two. Florida has 50. One for each state.
How dare you leave Minnesota when I haven’t wanted to eat you for a decade?
Somehow this brought me to a second, fast casual meat-centric chain, The Honey Baked Ham Cafe.
Currently the stores are called “The Honey Baked Ham Co.” but I swear some of them were called Honey Baked Ham Cafes pre-pandemic and I think that’s funnier.
Honey Baked Ham is the special treat my family only enjoyed on Easter and Christmas. But never in between. It didn’t even occur to me that you could. Every other ham disappointed me greatly.
This was my first visit to a Honey Baked Ham store.
If you don’t want to buy a whole or half honey baked ham or turkey breast, there’s a tidy lunch menu featuring, well, honey baked ham.
One lovely thing about The Honey Baked Ham Co. is that they use Duke’s mayo on their sandwiches and ham salad. Duke’s Mayo is what Ina Garten might describe as “Good Mayo.”
Most of the sandwiches cost around $7. You can’t order online (at least at my nearest location) but you could try calling ahead. I ordered two Ham Classics at the counter and waited outside. It only took a few moments to prepare.
“Is this a holiday I’m not aware of?” the employee asked me.
“No,” I replied.
“Is there something special going on today?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Are lots of people going on picnics?”
“It’s 95 degrees and very humid, so it they would be terrible picnics,” I replied.
He described it as the busiest day he’s seen outside of a major holiday with great puzzlement. I was puzzled too. Maybe we all tapped into the same idea inside the collective unconscious.
Anyway, the sandwiches were very good – thick slices of honey baked ham on a croissant with swiss, lettuce, tomato, Duke’s mayo, and hickory honey mustard. Sweet and salty in the best way.
Not quite Boston Market but that’s ok.