Breakfast & Brunch

It's high time we take a page from old folks and little kids; they never skip breakfast. What is it about the in-between years that makes us think we can? So what that we're not getting a senior discount and eight automatic refills on our decaf? And so what that w e don't have six action-packed hours of running around the sandbox screaming at the top of our lungs ahead of us. Big deal. We still need fuel for the day. We still need protein, energy, sustenance. We need eggs fried like twin suns, warm doughy things slathered with butter, crusty croissants with fruit filling. It's hard to be helpful, intelligent, or dexterous on an empty stomach, yet day after busy day, we say we don't have time to stop and eat. Well, it's high time to make time. With our list of favorites at your disposal, you might find yourself canceling a few morning meetings here and there in favor of a proper morning meal—and you might find yourself discovering new breakfast foods and eating breakfast foods at dinner. But if you find yourself running around the sandbox, please, don't blame us. LAURA CASSIDY Burgermaster The longtime drive-in chain has, in part, become a sit-in chain, and besides spaghetti and Husky Pups, yes, it serves up breakfast at this location. The Swedish pancakes with lingonberries are the best around, says an authority on the subject, Stan Boreson, the still-active former Seattle TV kids-show host and lyricist of the unforgettable "Who Hid the Halibut on the Poop Deck?" Until 11 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and till noon on Sundays, you can get links and potatoes with gravy, blueberry pancakes or the Boreson-preferred Swedish ones, and your standard ham and eggs with h-browns. The drive-in-turned-restaurant on the southern cusp of University Village has the ambience of Dick's in Lower Queen Anne, yet any shortcomings are made up for by the eatery's literary past. Like Hemingway at a cafe in Paris, Boreson reputedly wrote one of his tunes at a table in the corner here. He called it "Catch a Pickled Herring," and the rest, of course, is history. RICK ANDERSON ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 3040 N.E. 45th St., 206-525-7100. UNIVERSITY VILLAGE $ Cafe Besalu When what you need for breakfast is just a well-pulled espresso and a pastry, you can do no better than Cafe Besalu—where "well-pulled" is an understatement and a pastry is never, ever "just" a pastry. Chef/owner James Miller's pain au chocolat is absolute perfection, especially when bites are alternated with sips of Americano, and his croissants seem to sing songs about sweet butter. Seriously. Listen carefully next time; you can almost hear the flaky exterior's melt-in-your-mouth music. Quiches are divine matter as well, especially if you catch one on its way out of the oven. As Miller and his mindful crew knead and fold and smile benevolently, dogs and owners and children in strollers luxuriate as if no one on earth (or at least in Ballard) has anywhere to be today nor a care in the world—aside from maybe getting their hands on an orange brioche. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch. 5909 24th Ave. N.W., 206-789-1463. BALLARD $ Cafe Campagne There is no better brunch downtown. Period. This calmly swank French restaurant has European warmth and Seattle cool. Order anything with oeufs on the menu and you'll have to resist licking the plate clean; the eggs in oeufs piperade come in a skillet with saucy red peppers, ham, onions, and garlic—and a demi-baguette to wipe up the extras. If you're thinking entrées, look for croque and you're set: The croque-madame is essentially a great piece of bread with Gruyère, ham, and a fried egg baked into it, accompanied by a small green salad. The lamb burger is nothing to sniff at, either. For smaller appetites, there are baguettes with butter and honey, yogurt with fruit, and "French French Toast," which is thick brioche fried in bourbon egg batter. Any questions? STEVE WIECKING ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1600 Post Alley, 206-728-2233. PIKE PLACE MARKET $–$$ Cafe Flora It's funny the way some meat eaters' faces will start to twitch when you tell them that they won't be having sausage with their eggs. Sit them down in front of Cafe Flora's excellent rosemary biscuits and sage vegetable gravy or the sublimely textured polenta and black bean hash, however, and that nervous tick will slow to a stop. (A similar-looking yet much differently sourced twitch tickles the corners of vegetarians' mouths just walking in the door.) For over a decade, with a menu that puts the focus on what's there instead of what isn't, Cafe Flora has been an excellent bridge for mixed- company meals. And brunch—especially when taken in the garden courtyard—is the best way to experience it. After all, breezy crosswinds and beignets—theirs come with a tart raspberry sauce that's balanced by vanilla bean cream—are for everyone. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 2901 E. Madison St., 206-325-9100. MADISON PARK $–$$ Crave

Randy Phillips (center), with his Crave co-workers, makes an excellent brunch spot even better.

(Pete Kuhns) Server Randy Phillips is one of the best things about Crave's brunch. You hear people griping about the wait—on busy weekend mornings, half an hour for a party of two—but it's worth it, thanks to chef/owner Robin Leventhal's New American menu and Phillips' wonderfully overripe charisma. While you're blissfully munching your blintz—at the very least, order one to share—or tucking into your crab omelet, biscuits and gravy, or miso-cured salmon platter, this antelope of a boy gallops between too-close tables to pour you more excellent coffee and ask if you'd like another pomegranate mimosa (you would). "Crave brunch as a whole has been by far my favorite work environment," Phillips says. It shows, and it's a big part of why brunch at Crave is one of our favorites, too. NEAL SCHINDLER ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1621 12th Ave., 206-388-0526. CAPITOL HILL $ Crumpet Shop You're never going to get a decent bagel in this town, so dry your tears and warm up to the crumpet—or better yet, let it warm up to you. Much like an English muffin, the crumpet is specifically engineered to soak up butter, honey, jam, Nutella, and other gooey things. This is the crumpet's sole purpose, its raison d'être, and for nearly 30 years now, the ones on First Avenue have been conscientiously fulfilling their duties. Cream cheese, blended with briny smoked salmon and topped sweetly with cucumber slices, thins and slowly infiltrates the crumpet pores in the minutes before the open-faced sandwich of sorts reaches your mouth. Honey, on the other hand, oozes into the little valleys immediately after it's drizzled over them. Try one with ham, egg, and English cheese (they use Stilton)—and by all means, get a stimulating cup of English or black Chinese tea as well. The Crumpet Shop pre-brews theirs and prices it to include endless refills. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch. 1503 First Ave., 206-682-1598. PIKE PLACE MARKET $ Globe Cafe On all counts, I should hate this place and never darken its doorstep. I am a confirmed flesh eater, and this is oh-so-definitely the vegan zone. But there's just something seductive about the place—its art-house decor with local artists and writers exhibiting and performing their works, the cheery orange booths, the bottomless cups of organic coffee, the whole noncommercial atmosphere of the place. Sure, there are loads of seitan- and tofu-based dishes here, and they're actually quite good. Of special note is the Globe's biscuits and gravy, beloved by about half of Capitol Hill, and the French toast with fresh fruit. Predictably, the place is filled with a platoon of the tattooed, pierced, and dreadlocked army, but no one is going to send you out the door in a PETA T-shirt. PHILIP DAWDY ALSO SERVES: lunch. 1534 14th Ave. E., 206- 324-8815. CAPITOL HILL $ (The Globe Cafe is closed for construction until May 1, 2005.) Glo's It's not going to come as a big shocker to anyone who's ever been there that Glo's remains one of the most popular breakfast destinations in town. If you're one of the lucky ones who live within stumbling distance, then you're probably well versed in the magical way that Glo's creamy eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and pumpkin pancakes (only available seasonally, sorry) can work wonders on even the toughest hangover. For years, this tiny diner has been serving up fluffy omelets stuffed with savory ingredients, delicious homemade coffee cake, mouth-watering hash browns, and endless cups of fresh coffee—some of which are even donated to those poor souls waiting hungrily outside the door. That wait can be torturous when your stomach won't stop growling, but there are good reasons so many are willing to do it. HEATHER LOGUE ALSO SERVES: lunch. 1621 E. Olive Way, 206-324-2577. CAPITOL HILL $ Imperial Garden Dim sum (traditional Chinese brunch) is ingenious: a virtually never-ending supply of food—doled out bit by bit to prevent internal traffic jams—and each flavor, texture, and color shines. Imperial Garden is worth the drive to Kent, not least because the restaurant, part of the Great Wall Shopping Mall, is surrounded by shops selling Chinese spices, Japanese candy, and Taiwanese bubble tea. (If that's not enough to keep you happy, you can hit the Dance Dance Revolution! court and embarrass yourself in front of teenagers 10 times better than you.) During dim sum, politely request what you want off each tray as it passes; it's like a full-service culinary rummage sale, a people-powered Chinese version of conveyor-belt sushi bars. Rules of thumb: If it has lobster or shrimp and/or it's a dumpling, pounce! And if it's ruby-red strips of beef heart . . . well, you only live once. NEAL SCHINDLER ALSO SERVES: dinner. 18230 E. Valley Hwy., 425-251-1600. KENT $$ Joe Bar More than any other coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, Joe Bar is a neighborhood place, in the very best sense of that phrase. Owner Wylie Bush and his dreamy baristas serve up the best soy mocha I've ever tasted, and their crepes are a Hill sensation. (Though I'm bonkers for the tomato-basil-mozzarella, I'll admit to having a brief midwinter affair with a seasonal pumpkin-sage-chèvre.) What makes Joe Bar an avatar of comfy chic, however, is its atmosphere. Friendly, quirky people—high cute quotient, low on the hipster scale—flock here, sometimes just to read on their laptops with help from the cafe's Wi-Fi hookup. Music, too, is a vital ingredient. Joe Bar introduced me to Death Cab and Mirah; even shy shoegazers shuffle up to the counter, summon their courage, and ask what's on the CD player. I stumble here for brunch many weekend mornings, and I'm never disappointed. NEAL SCHINDLER 810 E. Roy St., 206-324-0407. CAPITOL HILL $ Le Pichet

This is definitely not a truck stop. All-day breakfast at Le Pichet.

(Pete Kuhns) And you thought that all-day breakfast was the sole province of dank diners and truck stops. Regardless of the time of day, Le Pichet offers transcendent options for breaking the fast—or, as the French prefer, breaking the crust. Their le casse croûte menu is available at any time, offering a number of lovely crusty (croûte) things to be broken (casse). A freshly sliced baguette and creamy butter arrive with dishes like oeufs plats, jambon et fromage (broiled eggs with ham and Gruyère), which are served to you straight from under the flame, bubbling with piquant cheese. You prefer something less crusty and perhaps lighter? The house-made yogurt is for you. A gorgeous cheese plate, oysters on the half shell served with grilled sausage and mignonette sauce, and a brilliant smoked salmon sandwich of sorts are among the other exquisite and, to an American fast- and/or crust-breaker at least, unusual options. With the paper spread out before you and a cup of perfectly brewed Caffe Vita coffee in your hand, there is hardly a more perfect way to start your day—even if you're already in the middle of it. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1933 First Ave., 206-256-1499. DOWNTOWN $ Macrina On weekend mornings at Leslie Mackie World Headquarters, you'll find about 35 of the most coveted seats in town. Only so many people get a crack at the Dutch babies (baked eggy pancakes) and strata (breakfast casserole, elevated), and boy, are those people lucky. The menu changes frequently, so it's never the same place twice, and that only adds to the allure. During the week, however, there's little problem (save for maybe a line and a little crowding) getting to the wonderful variety of pastries, breads, and quiches that come out of Macrina's oven. Muffins moist with banana puree and sweet with molasses, orange-hazelnut croissant rolls, buttermilk biscuits, otherworldly coffee cakes, and cinnamon monkey bread (the best bread you've ever smelled) all make terrific little secrets to start your day with. Grab one on your way to work and smuggle it inside your briefcase. You'll be surprised how much it softens your Monday morning. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch. 2408 First Ave., 206-448-4032. DOWNTOWN $ Maximilien Friends seem to always ask me where they should take their mom when she's in town. Although they're usually thinking of dinner, my mom likes Sunday brunch—and I like the Market, so here's my customary pitch: If it's a view you want, Maximilien offers a lovely one (the quintessential ferry riding off into the Olympics), and you've got to go past that quintessential Market scene (dudes in waders tossing large salmon) to get there, so you're racking up points like mad already and you haven't even ordered. The feel of the effortlessly chic dining room will send Mom back to Branson with the vague notion that her child lives somewhere really impressive, like Paris, and the menu lists gorgeous French bistro-style entrées that are difficult to pronounce but incredibly easy to devour. Get the crab crepe (crêpe fourrée du marché au crabe); it's amazing. Maximilien is every bit as wonderful at dinner and lunch, but remember, moms like brunch. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 81A Pike St., 206-682-7270. PIKE PLACE MARKET $$ Pan Africa Seattle is a brunch town, which means there are more places to get omelets and scrambles on weekend mornings than might seem reasonable. Yet sometimes you want a brunch that's worlds away from boring old eggs—and sometimes you want to bypass the 45-minute wait and just eat already. In light of this, Pan Africa's brunch remains alarmingly underappreciated. Though the brunch menu isn't much different from the ones you get at lunch or dinner, the especially relaxed mood, sunny reggae music, and unlimited, self-service tea makes it a very different meal. From Ethiopian mainstays (lively veggie and meat combo platters) to West African classics (groundnut stew with yams and carrots) and Mediterranean-influenced dishes (chicken with apricots and dates), Pan Africa excels at it all. My advice, then, to brunchers in a rut: Skip the hungry wait and the usual eggs and visit this vibrant Market storefront for a welcome change of pace. NEAL SCHINDLER ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1521 First Ave., 206-652-2461. PIKE PLACE MARKET $ Rosebud Restaurant and Bar The Rosebud has a cozy interior—the works of aspiring new artists decorating the walls—and impeccable service, and it's also an indisputably good place to have brunch, particularly if you're hoping to find a group of mimosa-happy twentysomethings getting cheerfully sloshed by noon. Weekend brunch specials can range from salmon and cream cheese scrambles to a wide variety of omelets, and the exceptional flavor of Rosebud's huevos rancheros smothered in melting white cheddar and black beans is enhanced by the roasted red potatoes that come with many of the dishes. But it's enticing menu mainstays like eggs blackstone (a variation on eggs Benedict with thick pieces of bacon and black peppercorn sauce) that keep the patronage high at this welcoming Capitol Hill spot. And if it's one of those sporadically beautiful Northwest days, then the charming patio in back makes for the perfect place to waste the morning away with a cup of coffee. HEATHER LOGUE ALSO SERVES: dinner. 719 E. Pike St., 206- 323-6636. CAPITOL HILL $ Salvadorian Bakery

Save room for the cookies and pastries (if not an entire cake) at the Salvadorian Bakery.

(Pete Kuhns) There's the ID you know, and then there's the international district you might not know. Radiating from Roxbury Street and 16th Avenue Southwest are Vietnamese noodle shops, a Cambodian grocery store, awesome taco trucks, and my favorite non-food-related White Center businessman, this really sweet airbrush artist who will, for a modest fee, put your pit bull, muscle car, or favorite smokable leaf on a tank top. And then there are the pupusas. Over at the Salvadorian Bakery, these traditional fried cornmeal cakes come stuffed with various combinations of pork, beans, cheese, and loroco, a flower petal that's treated like a vegetable. Curtido, El Salvador's spicy coleslaw, goes on top (you need it to cut the grease; these things ain't light). The bakery serves pupusas all day long, but because the coffee is also so good, I like two (they're smallish, like tacos) for late breakfast on the weekends. And save room for something sweet; the selection of cookies and pastries is amazing. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1719 S.W. Roxbury St., 206-762-4064. WHITE CENTER $ Sunflour Bakery Cafe At the intersection of the Bryant, Ravenna, and Wedgwood neighborhoods in Northeast Seattle, this is one of those establishments that can be relied on as a landmark (atop one of the 65th Street hills), a place to meet (plenty of space on weekdays), and a very dependable place to eat (with careful attention to wine at dinner). Breakfast distinguishes Sunflour, though, because they do the basics very well and keep the menu simple, but they add some spice to the list with, notably, a Mediterranean omelet—the best omelet we've ever had—and a smoked salmon scramble. Weekend brunch brings a crush of people to the homey dining room, but there are plenty of employees on hand and tables are cycled with efficiency. Oh, the bakery: Don't miss the sour cream walnut coffee cake. CHUCK TAYLOR ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 3118 N.E. 65th St., 206-525-1034. WEDGWOOD $ Vera's Restaurant It's 9 a.m., sun streaming through the plate glass, putting needles into the blonde's slotted blue eyes. She looks unsteady, hung over. Mascara smeared, cigarette dangling, she sits by herself at the end of the counter. "What'll it be?" a server asks. "What you got?" the moll says, then flashes her ivories. I mean, who wrote this place, Dashiell Hammett? I ate here, now I'll see the movie. From the outside, Vera's is challenging; on one side, the metal kitchen equipment is backed up to the windows, giving it the look of an appliance repair shop. Yet through the front door is a set from The Sting: scattered tables and booths, hanging lamps, the blonde. A crowd of young moms and dads with kiddies is a streak of reality. So is the food: My routine eggs Benedict is $8.95 (with mushy hash browns). The brunette alongside me has strawberry waffles with an aerosol squirt of whipped cream for $6.95; coffee costs $3.56. But sometimes the setting trumps the story, and the locals routinely pick this one as their favorite for breakfast. Besides, the service is tops: "Good job, by the way" says the guy who picks up our cleaned plates. The brunette rubs her hand sensuously along the flat surfaces of the booth. "Absolutely spotless," she says. As we part, I flash a passing squint at the blonde. She turns her wet eyes, then smiles a hard goodbye. I'll always remember her, egg in her teeth. RICK ANDERSON ALSO SERVES: lunch. 5417 22nd Ave. N.W., 206-782-9966. BALLARD $ Wild Mountain Cafe Perhaps one of the weirdest brunch items in town is found here at this female-owned, green-minded, eggplant-colored home-turned-restaurant. Wild Mountain's Persian Sun is tahini-stuffed French toast topped with pineapple, drizzled with lemon-honey, and served with a side of ham. Weirder still, it works—but then again, I've yet to outgrow a childhood habit of putting peanut butter on my French toast; Wild Mountain's twist is earthier and more refined, but pretty darn similar. Also highly recommended are the roasted garlic potato cakes—which combine everything you love about hash browns and mashed potatoes—that accompany most egg dishes. LAURA CASSIDY ALSO SERVES: lunch and dinner. 1408 N.W. 85th St., 206-297-WILD. CROWN HILL $

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