I've been waiting to sample the new breakfast menu at Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) ever since the chain announced plans to slowly roll out its morning treats. After watching McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Burger King (NYSE:BKC) post healthy turnarounds on the strength of their breakfast offerings, it's easy to see why the country's third biggest burger chain wants to follow in the footsteps of its larger rivals.

So there I was on Sunday, stoked to learn that my local Wendy's was finally on the new breakfast program. It didn't hurt that I was feeling pretty hungry at the time, too. However, the choices turned out to be pretty uninspiring.

"The key here," I wrote last year, "will be for Wendy's to find its flagship plate. McDonald's has its McMuffins and McGriddles. BK has its croissant sandwiches, and helped popularize French toast sticks. Wendy's can't just show up with hotcakes and scrambled eggs and expect to make a difference."

There are no hotcakes on the menu, but there is no exclusive pizzazz, either. You've got French toast sticks (like Burger King), hash-brown patties (like McDonald's), and chicken biscuits (like Chik-fil-A). OK, so it's draping its breakfast sandwiches in its tasty Frescata bread. It also offers a Southern temptation with sausage-gravy-soaked biscuits, but even that may be a hard sell for morning commuters who like to chow down as they drive.

Wendy's is still lacking that one signature dish. It's a pity. You would think that, after all its years in bed with Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI), it would have premium coffee brews and morning staples down cold. Not quite. Not yet.

Wendy's needs to stand out, because it's getting pretty crowded in the early-morning eatery space. It's not just the burger chains or other fast-food joints like Sonic (NASDAQ:SONC) that Wendy's has to compete with in this eye-opening segment. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is making a push in the market, and even smoothie giant Jamba Juice (NASDAQ:JMBA) is whirring its way into the niche with new juice blends and chunky granola-topped beverages.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed everything I sampled yesterday at Wendy's. I just think that a little originality is necessary if the chain truly wants to ride the gravy train -- the sausage gravy train -- to a turnaround before it settles for a pittance of a buyout offer.

The morning menu is widening:

Starbucks is a recommendation in the Stock Advisor newsletter service. Stock picks for breakfast? The eating's free for the next month with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz sampled the sausage gravy, French toast sticks, and hash browns at Wendy's yesterday. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy could go for a chicken biscuit.