Tag Archives: omelette

RT6: to Providence, RI

This morning is our last morning in Boston. We are moving on to Providence, RI.  Before we go we are going to have breakfast at Mike’s City Diner, a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives-featured joint. We once again luck into parking out front but have to hunt down American change for the meter. Boston still resides in the dark ages regarding meter technology.

Mike’s is clean and homey. A classic no frills or kitsch diner. Black and white and checks. Comfy, padded, armless chairs and tables. No banquettes. Banquette seating takes away some of the versatility a place has to seat parties of different sizes. The busy kitchen is visible from the seating area. The restaurant’s various and many accolades are posted everywhere. President Clinton has been by.

Rob goes out to feed the meter and I peruse the menu. A very good breakfast menu. Good variety. Our server delivers excellent coffee and a humongous glass of grapefruit juice. Rob gets back to the table and we place our orders. I’m getting the Mike’s Special – ham carved off the bone, two eggs over medium, grits, toast – coffee included. Rob wants Mike’s Famous Pilgrim Sandwhich – turkey, stuffing and cranberries only to be told they don’t serve it until eleven. “I know – we suck!” says our waitress…lol. He settles for a Southender omelette stuffed with corned beef hash and cheese with home fries and rye toast.

Breakfast arrives quickly and piping hot. My eggs are perfect but the grits while creamy, are unseasoned. I add butter and salt but they really need to be cooked with LOTS of salt. So I would pass on them. My ham is plentiful and very tasty, sliced thin and grilled on the flat top for a little carmelization. It’s not over-salty. Perfect. The toast is decent, white and buttered. I ask for jam and she delivers really good homemade strawberry. “It’s all we have, except for packets of grape jelly” she says. It is wonderful.

Rob’s omelette is huge. The eggs are perfect and buttery good and hash inside is amazing, with large chunks of meat mixed with potato, while the cheddar flavour ties it all together. A very well made omelette. Mike’s home fries are very good as well. Some of the best we’ve had. They seem to be simply spiced with seasoned salt. Delicious.

Well fed, we hit the road for Rhode Island. Providence is a quick, forested, one-hour drive from Boston. We are there in a blink pretty much. We settle into the hotel and set out to explore the Brown’s University area which is kinda dead. We grab a beer, watch some Olympics, argue about whether the women’s beach volleyball uniforms are discriminatory as the men are not in skimpy suits and then head back to the Downcity Arts area where we are staying and explore a bit more. Providence seems a bit dead today. It’s 90 degree out. Is everybody at the beach? Inside? Not returned for school yet? The Hotel Providence where we are staying is old and beautiful, but the surrounding area is a bit sketchy. There is a mission two doors away and the only other people in the street appear to be homeless. Nobody is begging though. Weird vibe. Something just seems a little off.

For dinner tonight we choose the Providence Oyster House. Tomorrow we head inland so we want to have a last go at fresh seafood. The Oyster bar is half full with people celebrating the end of their work day. This area of town, Federal Hill is busier but not bustling on a Friday night. There’s live music somewhere and the night is pleasant.

After handing the car off to the valet, we are quickly seated. The restaurant is dim, with lots of wood accents, paper covers the white table cloths, and the kitchen is open. Nice atmosphere for a slow meal and good wine.

Good rustic bread is brought to the table accompanied by a very nice dipping oil with a hint of chili. We decide to try some local oysters along with some of our favorites, Umami from Rhode Island, Pepperell Cove, Maine, and Malagash from PEI. Since we are having oysters we go with beer instead of wine for the evening. The oysters arrive on ice with cocktail sauce and a very nice migniotte. We slurp them down. Fresh and briny. I did get shells in three of the twelve. This should NEVER happen. Especially when you have the words Oyster Bar in your name. One again we’re reminded how absolutely spoiled we are by the Whalesbone in Ottawa.

For mains we both order the lobster mac and cheese at $30 a pop. Fabulous! (say with jazz hands). Perfectly cooked penne sauteed in a decadent white cheddar cheese cream sauce, very lightly truffled, with thin, tender-crisp asparagus pieces, the meat of a whole lobster covered in buttery ritz cracker crumbs, and finished under a salamander. Scrumptious. Tomorrow we leave lobster land. It has been a treat.

This pic does NOT do their lobster mac justice. It was very dark and this has been heavily corrected.

Montreal Classics

Wow! This summer is gorgeous and hot. The weather in Montreal is no exception. We are heading out this morning to Beauty’s Luncheonette, recently featured on The Layover with Anthony Bourdain. Beauty’s has been serving classic diner fare for breakfast, lunch and dessert since 1942. The luncheonette holds an unassuming spot on the corner of St. Urbain and Mont Royal. Hymie Sckolnick, the original owner is still greeting customers and gets you a “great” seat at 90 years old. He is Beauty.

We sit in a classic booth. Waitresses are younger and clad in jeans and Beauty’s tees but it is still a diner without irony. Our server brings excellent coffee and fresh-squeezed OJ.

We order the Beauty’s special to share and I chose a country omelet with bacon cheese and potato, while Rob chose the mishmash, an omelet with onion, green pepper, salami and french-cut hot dogs, grilled hard on the flat top so they have a nice caramelized finish.

The omelets are very good but the star of the show is the Beauty’s special – a Montreal bagel loaded with cream cheese, red onion, tomato and smoked salmon. Happy Mouth.

Beauty’s is a place I would visit for that sandwich alone. However be forewarned, Beauty’s is not as Beauty’s does…this was a $65 breakfast for two, albeit including an extra Beauty Special — the smoked salmon sandwich that we shared. The real kicker is that the beverages — a coffee, a diet Coke and an OJ cost $9.00 together. These are not diner prices.

Back to the hotel to dump off cameras and head off to my rendezvous with Louis Vuitton. I have been drooling over his carry-on luggage for way too long. Time to commit. Rob went clothes shopping… or something, no one cares.

This evening the skies opened. We need the rain, but wow! Luckily we can get to Place des Arts mostly inside and then run across the street to the venue to see Jim Gaffigan at the 30th anniversary of Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. The show is great, all new material and a few favorites that the crowd wanted to hear. After an encore, Jim leaves and we are peckish. Time for a late dinner. Schwartz’s.

Schwartz is a Montreal institution going on 84 years now. One of the few places open for late night dining on a Monday, the deli is busy. We once again grab the last parking spot in front and manage to find two seats together. Schwartz is not a large place. Tables are grubby and slow to be cleared. 80-plus years of grime layer the joint – and you just know the food is going to live up to expectations.

We get seated and our server “Artie from the Sopranos” breezes by twice to let us know he’s getting to us. When he finally does we order fries, coleslaw and dill pickle to share and medium (half-fat-half-lean-you-need-a-little-fat-with) smoked meat sandwiches each, and I order the recommended Cott’s black cherry soda.

Our food begins to arrive. Coleslaw is excellent oil and vinegar slaw, fries are good, and the garlic dill is perfect. Our sammies arrive next. Smoked meat piled high on soft rye, with a little yellow mustard. Excellent. They’re “fall apart in your hands good”. I also appreciate the size of the serving. Schwartz delivers a hefty sandwich, with plenty of meat, but doesn’t  overdo it  a la  New York City’s Carnegie deli which seems to pride itself on big, excessive and inevitable waste.

Diners: The White Horse

The White Horse is yet another establishment my parents drove me past thousands of times, never stopping. I wasn’t curious about their culinary offerings but the name White Horse always seemed romantic to me and stirred up thoughts of prospectors, gold mining and a wild frontier. It turns out the restaurant name is more closely linked to a horse that’s white. As with The Fontanelle, I had long forgotten this tiny place, in no-man’s land out by the train station and nestled among industrial businesses, and very little else.

At dinner with friends the other night, we were describing our search for great old-school diners, and one of our party brought up the White Horse. Rob and I jumped to attention immediately. We both had childhood non-memories of this place, and after our excellent experience with local resto, The Fontenelle, we were wondering if there were other Ottawa gems such as that which we had overlooked. At the time, we were dining in a chic restaurant in Westboro, and our friend was very skeptical that this was the kind of place we would enjoy. His own wife accused him of eating there only because it was cheap. This sounded like the perfect place for our Saturday breakfast!





















The White Horse seemed immediately promising, family owned, operated and decorated. Our lovely waitress, a vision in all shades of pink from head to toe, told us to sit anywhere and came by shortly to take our breakfast order. It was after 11 am so coffee was no longer included with the meal.  The White Horse grinds its own hamburger and makes gravy from scratch.

I order a breakfast club on white with coffee and orange juice. Rob orders a make-your-own meat omelette with smoked meat, onion and cheese. Coffee is good, O.J. comes in a cold bottle. Our food arrives shortly and we are not disappointed. My club is nicely toasted with good ham, eggs cooked perfectly, tasty fresh tomato, crisp bacon and plastic orange cheese. Along with tasting great, it looked great with strata of breakfast-y goodness. Home fries which are pan fried and not deep fried, accompany my sandwich with an order of dark brown, rich gravy that has a nice salty flavour but is not overdone. I am sensitive to salt and avoid most commercial preparations. This was very good poutine-style sauce. Rob’s breakfast includes the same potatoes and a well-made omelette with the ingredients he chose: ample smoked meat, chopped onion and American cheese.

The restaurant serves on fairly large plates, that they probably use to accommodate a good sized burger and order of fries. My club ran up the middle and one third was occupied by home-fries. I am pleased that the cook is comfortable with this plating and does not feel he/she has to fill the empty third with pale, under-ripe cantaloupe, an orange slice and frissee, and charge me an extra $2 so they can throw it away after I leave.

Friendly service, honest food. The White Horse truly fits the bill as a lost Ottawa gem. Well, only to us as it has clearly fed and still feeds Ottawans in the know for over 40 years.




Lou Mitchell’s & Berghoff

We woke to beautiful, warm, sunny weather on our second day in Chicago. Local Eats and a bit of research has us heading off to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast. We are finding parking is a bit of an issue here in the windy city and opt for a nearby parking lot. The attendant says we have to leave the keys but Rob doesn’t want to. He tells us to go across the street to another lot, but then changes his mind. We park and the younger thug feels it is necessary to “escort” us around the corner to Lou’s. I try to get some distance from him but we can’t shake him. He holds the door open and Rob hands him a few bucks. I look at him incredulously. He replies ” he knows where our car is.” Yup.

Lou’s an honest, old school diner at the start of old Route 66, opened in 1923. It is pretty much full on a Wednesday morning at 9:45. We are greeted by a hostess who demands we take a fresh donut hole. She shows us to our table and hands us menus and mini sized box of milk duds. The table hosts a variety of condiments including their house blend of maple syrup and home made preserves. Lou’s has it’s own in-house bakery, but I’m not big on pastries or sweets for breakfast. We both opt for one of their fluffy omelettes. I choose gardiniere and cheddar, because the spicy pickle mix on Rob’s hot beef yesterday was so yummy, and Rob orders the salami and swiss. The eggs come with hash-brown potatoes which are sliced thin and fried on the flat top. You can request your omelette “hobo-style” as I did and have the potatoes folded in.

After we ordered and the waitress brings coffee and fresh squeezed OJ, I start thinking about how I’m always enthused by the long list of omelette combos on breakfast menus and how I am always disappointed. Today our omelettes are delivered in skillets. They are a nice size but not huge. I dig in to my fluffy eggs and am very pleasantly surprised. This is probably the best omelette I’ve ever had outside of my own kitchen. The eggs are not overly stretched with water or milk, the good-quality cheddar is plentiful and melty-good, and the gardiniere provides a nice spicy, vinegary, green bite . The potatoes add flavour and texture. A dollop of sour cream lends a bit of creaminess to cut the heat of the peppers. A+.

Rob’s had the same fluffy texture, but good diced salami and cheese provided a richness that rounded it out nicely. The omelettes comes with a side of excellent, egg bread toast which is made fresh on premise daily. It comes slathered in butter. Grape jelly and homemade marmalade are the jam options on the table. The jelly is good but the orange marmalade is fabulous. Lou’s makes it, and we can only assume it is created from the rind and pulp leavings of the juicer machine and a little sugar. It is tart and full of intense flavour. They do sell it and we did purchased some but had to decline it because it comes in a pint sized ice cream container that would not survive the plane trip back in a suitcase.

Lou Mitchell's on UrbanspoonOur afternoon is spent shopping, taking photographs and visiting the Navy Pier. Another parking rip-off is to be had here. The Pier’s parking is unavailable due to construction so we park at a nearby garage. We tool around the tourist trap of chain restaurants and souvenir stands and enjoy beautiful Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Getting back to the car and pay for parking, we’re charged $18 for an hour and a half. Taxis from here on in – they’re way cheaper than parking.

Back at the hotel we have a few seconds to catch our breath before hoping in a taxi for an early dinner at The Berghoff and a night of comedy at The Vic. The Berghoff is a Chicago institution. Opened in 1898, the dining room still carries the ambiance of early twentieth century.

The walls are paneled in golden oak, a twelve foot mirror graces one wall while others are adorned with murals of Chicago and curiously Rome and Venice. Big band music serenades. Stained glass and inlaid wood scenes complete the picture. The ambiance is marred only by the very casual clientele at this early dinner hour. People should be waltzed across the ballroom-esque floor by tuxedoed waiters.

The menu has been updated in recent years we are told by our Korean taxi driver, but the classics remain and are indicated as Berghoff family recipes. We both choose the sauerbraten this evening as well as two house-brewed hefweisens. An assortment of very excellent cheese crisps, rye and molasses breads are delivered to the table while we await our mains.

Our dinner arrives on white Berghoff signature dinnerware, looking deliciously home cooked. We are not disappointed. I have limited experience with German cuisine. This is my first sauerbraten and I declare it excellent. The gravy is tangy and a little sweet and nicely complements the tender, sliced beef. Asparagus and green beans are cooked tender crisp, as are the carrots. The carrots are real, peeled and sweet. One of my pet peeves and for which I will strike a restaurant from my consciousness, is an establishment that cheaps out and serves fake baby carrots that have been “babyized” — cut to size and peeled by an ammonia process in a factory somewhere. I swear this brought the venerable “The Mill” to it’s knees despite Lowell Green’s shilling. Where was I? Ooh! The mashed potatoes — creamy, smooth, buttery, just like my mom makes. Not the lumpy, dirty with skins, lazy “smashed” potatoes I make, but honest to goodness mashed deliciousness that no one takes the time to make anymore. Just as well because there was probably as much butter as potato in these.

Berghoff on UrbanspoonOff the the Vic Theater (American spelling because that’s its name), to see our first performance of the Comedy Festival: Patton Oswalt.