Pitting two caloric champions, Chicago's Bang Bang and Jacksonville's Maple Street Biscuit Company, against each other


En route to Chicago for Memorial Day 
 weekend, I grabbed a copy of June's Food & Wine from the airport bookshop, because this is what I do. And while thumbing though Food & Wine, I landed on a small feature called "Where to Find America's Best Biscuits," and noticed happily that our very own Maple Street Biscuit Company (410 N. Third St., Jax Beach and 2004 San Marco Blvd.) was featured alongside noteworthy spots in the Big Apple, Asheville, Portland and — hey, what do you know? — Chicago. Touted as sour cream-based biscuits that are baked hourly, Chicago's Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits was quickly added to my must-eat trip list — along with tacos at Big Star, anything and everything at Girl & the Goat, dessert at Mindy's Hot Chocolate, deep dish pizza at Pequod's and Asian fusion at Sunda.

As I waited in line for Bang Bang to open Sunday morning, the smell of butter wafted through the air. Inside, Bang Bang is small, with large windows, brick walls and an open kitchen, with seating for only about 10. A spacious backyard courtyard with two rows of white picnic tables offers another 40 seats. The spot feels rural and charming, a relaxed vibe for your pending calorie-bender.

While noshing on the Bacon Biscuit, I had a thought: What if I pitted these two caloric champions, Bang Bang and Maple Street, against each other? How would our local fare compare to that of the Windy City, a place with (supposedly) a much richer foodie culture?

In this corner was my Maple Street go-to, the Garden Egg, made with butter only — no lard — and served stacked with collard greens, a fried egg and a drizzle of hot sauce. In the other corner was Bang Bang's Bacon Biscuit, served open-face with thick strips of candied Applewood smoked bacon, collard greens, homemade Fresno chili hot sauce and a sunny-side-up poached egg — noticeably larger and much denser (perhaps from the sour cream?) than Maple Street's Southern-style biscuit.

Let's get it on.

Maple Street (MS) vs. Bang Bang (BB)

MS: The Garden Egg ($5)
BB: Bacon ($7)
Advantage: Maple Street

Round 1: Description
MS: Flaky biscuit, fried egg, collard greens, splashed with hot sauce
BB: Biscuit, candied bacon, collard greens, hot sauce, sunny-side-up egg
Advantage: Tie

Round 2: Biscuit
MS: Flaky, buttery, light, fluffy, smallish. Slightly golden exterior.
BB: Dense, tender substantial, big. Slightly browned exterior crust.
Advantage: Maple Street

Round 3: Collards
MS: Flavorful, smoky, pieces of pork.
BB: Overpowered by the candied bacon.
Advantage: Maple Street

Round 4: The Egg
MS: Fried, with a runny yolk that drips down the sides of the collards and biscuit.
BB: Artfully presented, needs to be runnier.
Advantage: Maple Street

Round 5: Bacon
BB: Abundant, thick, sweet, smoky.
Advantage: Bang Bang

Round 6: Atmosphere
MS: Casual, comfortable, open, rustic.
BB: Rustic, open, large outdoor area with picnic tables and umbrellas around back.
Advantage: Bang Bang

WINNER: Maple Street
As an entire package — the biscuit and its accoutrements — Maple Street was, to my mind, a clear winner. I enjoyed Bang Bang, but it just didn’t have the same wow factor as our local heroes.

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