Wake up, sleepyhead. It’s half past brunch, and you’re starving for waffles, pancakes, biscuits.
Well, heavens to Benedict. Wipe that scowl off your face, and get thee to an eggery.
To help you navigate this brunch-crazed town, we asked dining contributor Wendell Brock to compile a list of best dishes. Leaving no omelet unturned, no pancake unbuttered, he canvassed the town to come up with these weekend wonders.
Java Jive (790 Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-876-6161, facebook.com/Java-Jive-130545348302)
The debate over what makes a good waffle is hot enough to melt butter. Some want theirs crisp and brown, with butter and syrup only. Others prefer fat, cakey waffles of the Belgian kind, dressed up with fruit, jam, whipped cream or ice cream — or even fashioned into breakfast savories heaped with eggs, bacon, hollandaise and chives. (Thanks, Queen of Cream.) In this Waffle House-loving town, it’s hard to go wrong with the plate-shaped, pecan-studded version, plus a side of bacon for crumbling on top. But the waffle that sets the standard for Atlanta is a comforting concoction that reminds me of both my grandmother’s gingerbread and my Aunt Libby’s lemon cheese cake. I’m talking about Java Jive’s delightful gingerbread waffle with house-made lemon curd. For those who like their brunch on the sweet side, the tangy citrus curd is the perfect condiment for the tender, moist, spicy brown waffle. Hoard it all for yourself, or share it as a starter before moving on to this cozy kitchen’s solid omelets, scrambles and fluffy biscuits. NOTE: There are lots of great things on the menu at Java Jive, but the waffles are only available weekends.
Bread & Butterfly (280 Elizabeth St. N.E., Atlanta. 678-515-4536, bread-and-butterfly.com)
I’ve had my fill of the thin, flavorless, overly salty pancakes that mistake visual appeal for flavor, arriving at the table like beauty-queen contestants in bodacious stacks of five, six and higher. Serious pancake aficionados will leave the bunny-shaped, M&M-sprinkled pancakes for the kids and proceed to Bread & Butterfly, the Parisian-style boite in Inman Park. The restaurant refrains from cuteness, whimsy and sweet-potato batter to evince squat, imperfect pancakes that are decadent and luxurious. Fork up a bite, roll it around in the maple syrup pooling around the plate, and nibble it like cake. Rich, buttery, unabashedly chubby and cherubic, these killer griddlecakes are a purist’s dream.
» RELATED: Bread & Butterfly evokes casual Parisian charm
BEST BISCUITS AND GRAVY
One Eared Stag (1029 Edgewood Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-525-4479, www.oneearedstagatl.com)
The Atlanta market is saturated with mediocre biscuits that fall apart at the touch, taste gummy and glutenous on the tongue, and otherwise look pale, thin and in need of a tan. The ones at One Eared Stag, not so much so. In the middle of a biscuit-baking flurry for a Food section story with recipes, I happened upon Executive Chef Robert Phalen’s heavenly Southern pastries. While some cooks put pepper in their gravy, Phalen puts black pepper in his biscuits. Two nicely browned biscuits, their tops still dusted with flour by the hands that shaped them, come to the table drowning in gravy loaded with sausage crumbles. No small amount of fat is used in the making of this deeply satisfying dish. Diets, be damned. You won’t quit till it’s gone.
BEST FRENCH TOAST
Sun in My Belly (2161 College Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-370-1088, suninmybelly.com)
Here’s the thing about French toast: You want thick slices of fluffy white bread to soak up the egg wash so that the interior is almost like pudding — bread pudding. Challah and brioche are best, and while the classic challah French toast at West Egg is pretty darn tasty — light, fluffy and cinnamon dusted — it is eclipsed by the version at Sun in My Belly. Fat slabs of challah are stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, doused with maple syrup and topped with fresh fruit — sometimes bananas, sometimes berries. It is, to reach for a certain simile, like manna from heaven.
» RELATED: Navigating the best spots for breakfast in Atlanta
Buttermilk Kitchen (4225 Roswell Road N.E., Atlanta. 678-732-3274, buttermilkkitchen.com)
America’s love affair with the omelet has centered mostly on the puffy half-moon style known as the Western omelet. Worldy omelet-vores, however, know another option. Thin and folded over like a napkin, it’s the French omelet roulée (or rolled omelet), a dish that would make Julia Child squeal. While you can get a stellar rolled omelet at Staplehouse or Bread & Butterfly, we’ve taken quite a shine to the Southern-style, three-egg pouffe favored by chef Suzanne Vizethann at Buttermilk Kitchen. Neither too pillowy nor too svelte, it’s just right. It doesn’t hurt one bit that it’s stuffed with loads of Benton’s bacon, Vizethann’s red pepper jelly and signature pimento cheese. It’s a little bit sweet, a lotta bit smokey, 100 percent irresistible.
» RELATED: New spins on Southern breakfast
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