Fast-food breakfast, unchained

by Brian Clarey

At first blush, the Biscuit Factory in High Point has a similar look to its fast-food, breakfast-chain brethren, with a drive-thru window, antiquated booths and a condiment station with ketchup packets, napkins and those little jellies that my great-grandmother, when she was still alive, used to fill her purse with.

And the place does have a lot in common with these other quickserve morning joints. It came about in the 1970s, something of a Golden Age for fast food, when the big chains began to enter into the breakfast market.

McDonald’s introduced the Egg McMuffin in 1972, and they owned the market for almost a decade. Burger King got into the breakfast game in 1978, basically cloning the McDonald’s menu until its chefs invented the Croissan’wich in 1983.

But until recently, biscuits were strictly the purview of the South in the fast-food breakfast game. The first Biscuitville opened in Danville, Va. in 1975, an offshoot of a pizza chain called “Pizzaville”; significant franchising didn’t hit until 1982.

The Biscuit Factory went the other route, focusing on its lone location and signature product. Very little has changed in the five decades of operation.

Word on internet consumer websites is that the Biscuit Factory has one of the best hamburgers in High Point. I may someday test this assertion, but on my first visit it felt like sacrilege to order anything that didn’t come on a biscuit.

Biscuits come filled with eggs, cheese, country ham, chicken or pork tenderloin in any combination you might imagine. I opted for the pork tenderloin, one of my absolute favorites, and was delighted when given the option of grilled or fried pork. While battered and fried pork tenderloin is undoubtedly a fine thing, I felt a small concession to healthy eating would be better than none. A side of fries split the difference.

My sandwich and fries, seemingly made to order, came up quickly. I brought them to a booth by the window and assembled the meal on my tray, a pastiche of beige food that would undoubtedly make my nutritional counselor, who is also my wife, wince.

But not me. I tore into the biscuit with gusto and the results pleased me. The pork was everything I could ask for: tender and flavorful, and big enough to cover the biscuit larger than the palm of my hand. Not every restaurant would put a piece of pork this good on a biscuit.

But the biscuit itself deserves top billing. Lots of fast-food restaurants rag about their biscuits. McDonald’s, somewhat misleadingly, advertises their biscuits as mad from scratch every morning, when in actuality they are no more homemade than a box of Betty Crocker brownies — the mix comes in a bag, is mixed with water and then formed into biscuits. Hardee’s also uses a pre-made mix, though the result is somewhat more authentic than the McDonald’s product. Biscuitville built its reputation by making biscuits from scratch, with a fresh batch coming out of the oven every 20 minutes. Theirs was, for me, the standard by which al others were judged.

But then I bit into a Biscuit Factory biscuit. A lot of people throw around the term “melt in your mouth,” but my biscuit from the Biscuit Factory was the first thing I ever ate, besides frozen desserts and certain chocolate confections, that actually did seem to melt when I ate it. It was greasy and gooey in al the best ways, with a butter flavor that I suspect came from actual butter and not some facsimile created in a test tube, and a delicate crunch from the browned crust.

It crumbled when I ate it, another hallmark of a homemade biscuit that the fast-food chains just don’t get.


The Biscuit Factory; 2103 Kirkwood St., High Point; 336.869.7217