Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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White Rose System
1301 East Elizabeth Avenue
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
November 2, 2010 9:38 PM
Sue places a breakfast order for a Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. She does not like runny yolks.
SUE: How do you do your eggs?
COUNTERMAN: Well... when I get here in the morning I turn on the grill and let it heat up. Then I get the eggs out...
(Laughter from the working men dining at the counter, almost to a man with work pants riding down low enough to expose butt cleavage)
SUE: I get enough smart-ass answers from my husband.
BRUCE (to counterman): I think she's falling in love with you.
(Further laughter from the pew)
COUNTERMAN: It happens that quick, does it?
Ah, yes, a weekday morning in a classic NJ hash house. Do you prefer to remain anonymous and inconspicuous when dining out? Then the White Rose is not for you. Can you dish it out as good as you get it? Then belly up to the counter!
That Taylor Ham (or pork roll, as we refer to it), egg, and cheese, the unofficial state sandwich of New Jersey, is a specialty of the White Rose, and you'll find none better. Well, actually, you will find two better, and they're both found here. The "complete" includes chunks of home fried potatoes (an inspired combo), and the hero loads up a long roll with heroic portions of the standard ingredients. Lunchtime favorites include the popular rugged-textured burger on a hard roll, in two sizes, Italian hot dogs, and an intriguing SUPER HOT Sausage Sub (caps theirs).
Seats at the counter of this working-man's diner are choice, but all other seating is only a step or two further from the action at the grill, where you can watch the mesmerizing motions of the grill person flipping eggs and slitting Taylor ham before slapping it down on the hot surface.
The White Rose was once part of a small, three-store chain; they're now independently owned. About the name: New Jersey seems to have a particular fondness for food-of-the-people joints with the word white in the name. You'll find White Manna and White Mana (yes, two different spellings), a few White Diamonds, and White House Subs, of course, in addition to the White Roses. Our guess is that white connoted cleanliness in an age when it was perhaps not as easy to come by in restaurants of this type. And system... why White Rose System? As with the New York Systems of Rhode Island, the reasons are lost in the mists of time...
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