All right, IHOP, you got me.
Invested such as I was in the Cavs-Rockets game Sunday afternoon, a game which sat comfortably atop Nielsen's weekly ratings and which the Cavs ultimately and tragically lost, I recognize that it probably took very little to persuade me to venture down to Steelyard Commons and apply some hard-nosed journalistic scrutiny to the new Criss-Croissant, which I saw advertised during a raucous third quarter, and which I report with some alarm does not yet have its own Wikipedia page.
My goal was to determine if this new product, this International House of Pancakes "featured item," tasted as good as it looked in the commercial. (I'm very into this sort of thing). It almost doesn't bear mentioning that it did not.
There it is to your right, the Strawberry Rhubarb Criss-Croissant. (There's a "blackberry lemonade" flavor as well, if you're feeling adventurous).
You'll first notice that it's quite small. Slightly larger than a folded-over Eggo Waffle, you shouldn't expect to be satisfied without a combo platter, which'll set you back $7.99 if you want meat, or $5.99 if you're cool with just eggs and hash browns, which I was.
I do feel obliged to mention, on that score, that both (i.e. both eggs and hash browns) require almost obscene amounts of salt, pepper and motor-oil-infused Tabasco sauce (the expiration date of which is moot) to coax anything resembling flavor out of. if you're an IHOP regular, this should come as no surprise.
Also, those of you looking for a late-night diner rendezvous, as I was, be forewarned: IHOP's only open until 10 p.m. on weeknights.
To scan for accuracy on the featured item, let's compare my Steelyard offering to the official Criss-Croissant product description, via the IHOP website.
"A warm, freshly made croissant that's baked in a waffle iron," it says. "It's folded, filled with luscious cream & topped with vibrant, sweet sliced strawberries & rhubarb to add just the right amount of tartness."
Of the above description, the only element I can confirm with confidence is that it was "folded." It did look as though it had been baked in a waffle iron, but not necessarily that week. To its credit, the oozy jelly in which the strawberries languished was certainly vibrant, but the strawberries themselves were not. I could not detect even one rhubarb, though in truth I'm not sure how the rhubarbs are supposed to appear or taste. (It was probably just canned strawberries in the IHOP strawberry syrup, right?)
The big problem, I've determined, is one of inappropriate labeling: The Criss-Croissant obviously doesn't taste very good, but more importantly, this item is not a croissant at all. It's a waffle. At best, it's a waffle-crepe.
How would you even bake a croissant in a waffle iron? Is this unreasonable to ask? Would you slice it down the middle and then sort of flatten it out? Or, if you just stuck the whole thing in there — stupid — how would you achieve the fold-over effect afterwards?
With all due respect to the IHOP marketing gurus, those foolhardy souls who gave us the Rooty Tooty Fresh n' Fruity, why try to disguise what this item really is, a mini-Belgian Waffle folded in half in order to sort of resemble a croissant. Call it the Belgian Taco or something.
(We suspect, regardless, to get a much better offering at the Euro Waffle Bar).