Top of the Morning

Focus On Breakfast Places

June 19, 2005|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

There's something endearing about Baltimoreans' love affair with breakfast -- as opposed to brunch, a meal that has more pretensions. Breakfast out is usually down home and comfortable, especially when you have time to linger over a second cup of coffee. The recent opening of Miss Shirley's in Roland Park, serving mainly breakfast food, inspired us to take another look at the subject. The local places that are known for their breakfasts are too numerous to list here. We would have to start with those two icons, Jimmy's in Fells Point and Chick & Ruth's in Annapolis, and then move on to just about every diner in the area. Instead, we've picked some breakfast spots to show you the range of what's available, and perhaps introduce you to one or two you might not know about.

Blue Moon Cafe

1621 Aliceanna St., Fells Point,

410-522-3940

What you don't expect at this quirky New Age cafe and espresso bar is that the kitchen whips up delicious and hearty trucker-style breakfasts, each involving enough food to feed a family of four. The place is famous for its enormous cinnamon buns; but for carb overload, we recommend the crisp-edged, golden hash browns.

Wake up call: The ultimate in homemade: the cafe's own homemade preserves for the homemade biscuits.

Eggspectation

6010 University Blvd., Ellicott City,

410-750-3115

Despite its name, this place manages to avoid terminal cuteness. Inside, the egg theme is secondary to the industrial chic decor, and the breakfast choices are endless. There are lots of savory and sweet crepes as well as the usual eggs, pancakes and french toast. Huge and noisy, but a good place to take kids.

Wake up call: Did we say endless? There are 10 variations on eggs Benedict alone.

Golden West Cafe

1105 W. 36th St., Hampden,

410-889-8891

Golden West epitomizes Hampden: the lace curtains in the storefront windows, the tchotchkes, the mismatched furniture, the funky art. Breakfast is served all day, and it's pretty funky too. Many of the dishes have a southwest accent, like the chorizo burrito and the breakfast quesadilla, but you can also get pancakes and oatmeal.

Wake up call: The Bismark, a pastry with blueberries and clarified butter. As the menu says, "There is no substitute for real butter. If it offends you, do not order this."

Miss Shirley's

410 W. Cold Spring Lane, Roland Park, 410-889-5272

The looks of this perky new breakfast spot and the '50s background music don't hint at the upscale New Orleans-influenced breakfasts, with sides like grits, fried green tomatoes, andouille sausage and sweet corn cakes. Think Brennan's East in a former Hair Cuttery.

Wake up call: How decadent can you get? Coconut-cream-stuffed french toast with bruleed bananas should answer that question.

Morning Edition Cafe

153 N. Patterson Park Ave., Butcher's Hill, 410-732-5133

We love the vintage shabby chic interior, the fairy lights entwined in dried grapevine, the neon rainbow. The food is almost secondary, but there's no shortage of choices. The menu's four pages of breakfast fare are supplemented by a page of breakfast specials. The bad news: Morning Edition is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Wake up call: You can get pure Vermont maple syrup for $2 extra. Definitely worth it.

Sanders' Corner

2260 Cromwell Bridge Road, Parkville, 410-825-5187

One minute you're on the beltway, practically the next you're seated on an old-fashioned second-floor wooden porch surrounded by trees and overlooking Loch Raven Reservoir. Time seems to move slower here. (The service can, too, but no matter). There's no nouveau breakfast food on the menu, but then you wouldn't want there to be.

Wake up call: The Full English Breakfast for $6.95. Not to worry -- no kidneys on toast or kippered herring. Just a classic American breakfast with a fancy name, including two eggs; bacon, sausage or scrapple; a muffin, bagel or toast; and coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Stone Mill Bakery

Green Spring Station, Brooklandville, 410-821-1358

Surely no other breakfast place around has this enchanting a patio where you can enjoy a cafe au lait and a freshly baked croissant or brioche. The surprise is the range of breakfasts beyond continental, food like omelets, huevos rancheros, french toast and granola.

Wake up call: Toast made from soft, fresh baguette baked just hours before.

XS

1307 N. Charles St., Mount Vernon,

410-468-0002

XS specializes in, well, excess. Oh, not the interior design, which is quite minimalist -- three floors and a mezzanine of steel, highly polished wood, exposed brick, glass and flat screen TVs. But the breakfast food, served until midnight (2 a.m. on weekends), includes Belgian waffles, griddle cakes, quiche and omelets; and the list of coffees, espresso drinks and teas is impressive.

Wake up call: Fresh orange juice squeezed to order.

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