If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then why not approach it with a little panache? After all, this is the city where Brennan’s elevated it to an art form, turning the most neglected meal of the day into a three-course exercise in indulgence. While most of us don’t regularly have the time to linger over a leisurely morning meal, every so often a day comes along where we have the opportunity to do just that. Here are a few places well suited for drinking in the morning sun.
Blue Plate on Prytania Street is one of those neat neighborhood places that seems to fly under the radar. This is how the regulars like it, as it’s a destination that really should be cued up as a top choice for breakfast lovers. The thoughtfulness and creativity of its breakfast menu can shame the dinner menus of other places around town.
Pumpkin Pancakes come two to an order, augmented with maple cream and crushed pecans. Nutmeg and other pumpkin-related spices play off the distinctive maple flavor with the cream adding a measure of richness. The aptly-named Sin City features chocolate-chip pancakes topped with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream (“If your mama lets you,” according to the menu).
Savory choices include a nice Shrimp and Grits. The complexion of this dish is shell-pink rather than the typical reddish hue and the texture is soupier. Made with a light but tasty stock, smallish shrimp swim in a creamy sauce flavored with onion and celery.
An Eggs and Cakes special features two crawfish cakes topped with a soft-poached egg, smothered with a rich crawfish sauce. The seasoning in the cakes is spot-on. And while they’re a bit light on the crawfish, the difference is made up by the plentiful tails in the sauce. This is the kind of dish you might pay twice as much for at a more upscale destination but tastes just as good here.
Other interesting options include Pain Perdu featuring French toast stuffed with brie and pecans and topped with a blueberry sauce. This one is neat because it takes a savory component and swings it back towards sweet. There is a nice selection of omelets and also some hair of the dog for the hung-over such as Bloody Marys, mimosas and brandy milk punch.
There is also a basic kid’s menu as well whose items ring in at under $4. Breakfast is served Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The lunch menu is rich enough to merit its own column, so keep it in mind as well later in the day.
Breakfast is served all day at Riccobono’s Panola Street Café. This cheerful place at the corner of Burdette and Panola streets has been opening the eyes of groggy college students for years. And while the waits on weekends can be long, popping in during the week is easy. Start with the tasty iced coffee. They offer up straightforward breakfast items such as eggs and Belgian waffles; I’m partial to the pecan waffle. Specialty omelets include the Sausalito with mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms, garlic and green onion along with the Crawfish Sauté, made with crawfish, mushrooms and green onion.
Specialty egg dishes include healthy options such the California Benedict, made with tomato and avocado in lieu of the bacon or ham. Its sister dish, the Eggs Sardou, comes with spinach and artichoke hearts. And while it looks tempting on paper, avoid the Huevos Rancheros, whose components are heaped into one big pile on the plate.
Surrey’s Café and Juice Bar menu proclaims that “every day is Sunday at Surrey’s” and the vibe isn’t far off. This comfortable nook is a cozy place to kick back and enjoy a nice breakfast while catching up with the paper or friends. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday. Favorites here include Bananas Foster French Toast. This version uses, appropriately enough, French bread. Stuffed with bananas and cream cheese it comes drizzled with the decadent namesake sauce made from rum, butter and brown sugar. A slightly scaled back iteration of this carb-laden genre includes their Pain Perdu; French toast made from (again) French bread dusted with powdered sugar. You can ratchet up the toppings as needed.
The savory side includes typical egg, bacon and toast combinations along with some neat local variations. These include the Boudin Breakfast Biscuit, a breakfast sandwich made from a sautéed Creole Country Sausage boudin patty and two eggs stuffed into a split biscuit alongside either grits or hash browns. Scrambled Eggs with Salmon features house-cured lox and cream cheese, capers and green onions for a more refined option that still doesn’t skimp on the decadence quotient. The health-conscious will appreciate the inclusion of a Tofu Breakfast Platter and lots of fresh fruit and granola options. The fresh-squeezed juices are a definite plus and contribute some lagniappe to any meal here. I like the carrot with ginger blend. Bear in mind that Surrey’s is a cash-only destination.
Another place to keep in mind is Jung’s Flying Dragon just across Veterans Boulevard from Clearview Mall, which offers a really neat variation on the breakfast theme. Their Chinese breakfast on weekends is fantastic, featuring unusual dishes such as breakfast-style pot stickers and scallion pancakes along with bracing Shanghai-style cold and spicy noodle dishes. It makes for a fun pit stop before tackling weekend shopping chores.
1330 Prytania St.
Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe
7801 Panola St.
Surrey’s Café and
1418 Magazine St.
Jung’s Golden Dragon
4417 Veterans Blvd., Metairie