The Most Delicious Meal of the Day
By Julie Arnan
Weekend brunches are practically a religion here in the Northwest, especially on the Eastside where the high population of youngins ensures the adults are up by the crack of dawn. Even on a Saturday. What better way to break the fast than to delegate its preparation to an expert? They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we couldn’t agree more — though a long walk post-breakfast is recommended to avoid the dyspeptic doom often associated with brunch.
From the misty roaring Snoqualmie Falls to the mysterious pockets of encroaching fog that sometimes hides the evergreen forest just outside, the Salish Lodge is definitely a breakfast destination. The view indoors is warm, the walls and ceiling paneled with wood and a fire crackling in the large brick fireplace.
Breakfast here is a splurge. A plate of Belgian waffles will run you close to $20. But they don’t disappoint — crisp, not overly sweet, served over apple butter and accompanied by cinnamon-whipped cream. The menu contains few surprises, but everything is executed with refinement. Hickory-smoked bacon, cured ham and apple pork sausage, the venerable porcine breakfast trio, are featured heavily, though Dungeness crab and smoked salmon can be added to an eggs Benedict or omelet for a Northwest twist.
The Salish Lodge does, however, offer the mother of all breakfasts — aptly named The Salish Lodge Country Breakfast ($34), proudly served since 1916, according to the menu. It features freshly squeezed juice, a baker’s basket full of house-made pastries and muffins, enormous buttermilk pancakes served with seasonal fruit and Devonshire crème, and a bowl of steel cut oats for starters. Then, on to the main course of three farm fresh eggs, the aforementioned porcine trio, hashed potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit. Drizzle on a golden thread of honey from the lodge’s own hives and you’ll be set, probably for days to come. Those 1916 diners must have been actual lumberjacks to set the calorie bar this high!
6501 Railroad Ave. S.E., Snoqualmie. Breakfast is served Monday-Thursday, 7-11am; brunch is served Friday-Sunday, 7 m-2pm.
Most diners are familiar with chef Bobby Moore’s flair for excellent evening meals, but did you know Barking Frog offers an incredible breakfast as well? Its attachment to Willows Lodge makes offering breakfast a must for travelers. The Frog offers a regular daily breakfast menu with everything from lighter fare like yogurt with seasonal fruit and granola ($8) to heartier items like croque madames ($14) and breakfast burritos, served verde style or with chorizo, bacon or sausage ($12 and up). You can also get customizable plates (choice of ham, Florentine or salmon Benedicts; omelets or a farmstyle breakfast).
Weekend brunch at Barking Frog offers many of the same small plates found on its daily menu, but watch for special items like huevos rancheros with corn tortillas, chorizo hash, two eggs, cheddar, black beans, pico de gallo and chipotle-tomato salsa ($16) or challah French toast (seen on the cover)with candied pecans, vanilla butter and bourbon maple syrup ($15).
Willows Lodge, 14580 N.E. 145th. St., Woodinville. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday, 6am to 10:30am; brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 6am to 2:30pm.
Though only officially open early enough for breakfast on Saturdays (9am), freshly baked pastries are available all week long starting at 11 am and have inspired a cult-like following locally. The cinnamon-spiced apple bread routinely sells out; caramel apple hand pies indulge the fall and winter sweet tooth.
The menu is revised daily according to what is in season and available from farmers, but Saturday morning usually involves a game-changing quiche filled with vegetables, meats, herbs and/or cheese depending on the chef’s muse. The quiche is occasionally served without crust to offer a gluten-free breakfast option.
In addition to the quiche, the kitchen usually offers a breakfast special such as the house-smoked brisket hash served over pan-roasted sweet potatoes and topped with pickled shallot rings and bright green chimichurri sauce. A quivering soft-poached egg crowns the dish, until burst with a fork; it’s thick, golden yolk trickling down between crisp potato edges.
723 9th Ave., Kirkland and is open Monday-Friday at 11am.; Saturday at 9am. Preview the daily menu at derumarket.com and call ahead if you want the special — when it’s gone, it’s gone (425-298-0268).
Heavy Restaurant Group has gone with a lighter touch for The Commons, a bright, cheery café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Baked goods and pastries form the cornerstone of breakfast options like the large square biscuits used in breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls slathered in cream cheese icing.
Check out the vegetarian scramble, cheese added, loaded with mushrooms, spinach, onion and tomato. The eggs were moist and the wedge-shaped home fries crisp. Biscuit breakfast sandwiches come in many incarnations from the classic with Beecher’s flagship cheese, bacon and egg, to the maple-glazed pork belly and fried egg with spinach and onions. Despite being egg-free, the tomato and spinach sandwich still has great flavor with melted Havarti cheese, grilled onions and a bell pepper aioli. However tasty biscuits are, they don’t hold up well as sandwich vehicles, tending to break after the first bite. But, that’s what the silverware is for, right?
The Commons serves Sightglass coffee, a company out of San Francisco specializing in craft-roasted beans. It’s a good cup of joe whether in espresso form, as a mocha made with Theo’s chocolate, or in a boozy version called the Rudesheimer Kaffee served with brandy, vanilla bean syrup, whipped cream and orange zest.
14481 Woodinville Redmond Road N.E., Woodinville. Open for breakfast seven days a week: Monday-Friday 7am-3pm; Saturday and Sunday from 8am-3pm Coffee and pastries available an hour before breakfast service each day.
Trellis has a reputation for fresh and local fare. And nothing is fresher than brioche French toast, harvested daily from Chef Brian Scheehser’s nearby farm. No? All joking aside, the kitchen does a wonderful job integrating organic eggs into tender omelets served with house-made pesto or house-cured salmon with whipped cream cheese.
Stream-to-table plays a prominent role in the Trellis brunch menu, showcasing the Northwest’s favorite local fish in several ways. The salmon bruschetta is a gem-toned strata of grilled Como bread, coral-colored house-cured salmon that contrasts with fresh green arugula in color and taste, briny capers and zesty lemon citronette. But, it’s not all salmon for breakfast. Chef Scheehser does a great version of corned beef hash, made in-house and savory with the taste of onions and spices, served with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Those looking for that most manly of all breakfasts won’t be disappointed by the hanging tender steak and eggs, accompanied by red potatoes for good measure.
Granola done well is a hedonistic pleasure — sweet, crunchy, nutty. Add creamy to the list if it’s served with quality yogurt. Ordering granola at a restaurant takes nerve. One must banish that negative inner voice assuring you that the server is definitely judging your inability to order a “real” breakfast. The Trellis granola is a splendid combination of sunflower seeds, almonds, oats, honey, raisins and coconut. It is, hands down, the best granola I have ever had — and that’s saying something from one who often wears that sting of breakfast-ordering shame.
Located inside the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland at 220 Kirkland Ave. Breakfast is served daily beginning at 6am.
Hotel restaurants can sometimes err on the side of unimaginative, but the Hyatt’s Eques has ratcheted up its creative flair. Sure, there is still the fairly standard buffet offering fluffy mounds of scrambled eggs and the like. However, a separate sort of buffet also lives in the Eques dining room — a Bloody Mary bar. The server brings out the vodka of your choice, and then you get to customize the rest from standard and spicy mixes to garnishes ranging from celery to salami.
Individual items showcase the chef’s creativity, such as the Eques signature eggs Benedict, featuring shaved prosciutto and delightfully refreshing citrus cream. Or maybe you’re in the mood for smoked salmon, tempura lemon and caper cream on your Benedict. A departure from the Benedict, the “425” pork and eggs is a savory mix of braised pork shoulder, eggs, potatoes and tomatillo salsa.
Never fear, sweet-toothed souls. There is plenty at Eques to satisfy your cravings. The tiramisu pancakes are at the top of the sugar-rush heap. Generously smeared with mascarpone cream, sprinkled with espresso dust, chocolate shavings, candied hazelnuts, garnished with chocolate-covered espresso beans dotting the plate — order a very large coffee to go with all of this decadence. And what about the pear and fig stuffed French toast, deep-fried and topped with vanilla cream, huckleberry compote and Riesling poached pears? Let’s just be straight up here and call it by its name — the Eastside’s most indulgent donut.
Located on the second floor of the Wintergarden Atrium at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. Open for breakfast Monday-Friday 6:30-10 am; Saturday 7am-noon; Sundays 7am-1:30pm.
Bothell, Kirkland, Maple Valley
Not all pancakes are created equal. Even fancy schmancy restaurants that routinely wow diners with elegant dishes sometimes fail at the basic griddlecake. Usually, that failure is the lingering taste of baking powder, a bitter reminder that a quality flapjack is hard to come by. The Original Pancake House may not be the refined diner with which to impress your country club friends, but it is the place to go for pancakes.
Families cram into tables and booths, not caring about the intimate bond they are likely making with the family next to them. They are just happy they finally got a seat in the no-reservations-accepted epicenter of family breakfast spots. The kids, having decided from birth that they will only ever order chocolate chip pancakes, are contentedly completing the dot-to-dot with sticky crayons. Adults, many still in suspiciously pajama-looking attire, are just hoping that the coffee lady comes by ASAP.
Locations in Bothell, Kirkland and Maple Valley.
If a bustling dining room is any indication of good eats, Chef Lisa Dupar’s Redmond bistro holds great promise. Families and friends chat comfortably in the white-walled, red-ceilinged space, kids peeking through the large windows into the catering kitchen. The chef’s southern heritage lies easily alongside her French training and adopted Northwest home.
Southern flavors are few and far between on the Eastside, but Pomegranate Bistro effortlessly slides in classics like low country Gulf shrimp and geechie boy mill — aka shrimp and grits, Southern fried chicken and waffles dressed up with spicy kumquat syrup and Savannah hot puffs rolled in cinnamon sugar with crème Anglaise. And don’t forget the bayou Bloody Mary served with house-infused pepper vodka, blue cheese stuffed olives and pickled okra!
Though menus change seasonally at Pomegranate Bistro, the Kid’s TV Brunch remains a fixture, representing thoughtful understanding of its clientele. What kid wouldn’t want their very own tray — tasty bits neatly separated so they don’t touch and ruin everything? Scrambled eggs, bacon strip, homemade toast and jam plus a scoop of seasonal fruit is a very winning formula for a happy kid (and we all know happy kids beget happy parents).
18005 N.E. 68th St., Redmond, and is open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 9am-2pm. There is a simplified breakfast menu served Monday-Friday from 7-11am.
Lot NO. 3
Lot No. 3 is the place to relax into the weekend, particularly if Saturday morning breakfast follows Friday night imbibing (perhaps even at the same bar!). Those feeling especially “sensitive” should request a seat in the dimly lit balcony, perhaps easing into one of the low-slung club chairs. The bar may specialize in beer and whiskey, but it knows its way around a Bloody Mary.
With your veggie serving checked off, move onto the protein group with a Plate O’ Bacon, smoked and candied. Thick strips also adorn the egg and bacon Sandwich, and accompany the Lot 3 scrambles and biscuits and gravy. Comfort food dominates at Lot No. 3 — red beans and rice for those yearning for southern flair, pork belly Benedict for a modern version of the classic egg dish.
The kitchen deftly utilizes the sweet qualities of booze, infusing Irish Cream into cinnamon roll icing and bourbon into syrup for waffles — our server quick to swap out our underage daughter’s syrup pitcher for bourbon-free maple syrup. The malted waffles with fruit are a solid choice, but give the cornbread waffles a whirl. Served with golden cubes of butternut squash and crunchy pepitas (mini pumpkin seeds), these waffles are a welcome break from the norm.
Of course, there are many additional breakfast joints here on the Eastside, like the Brown Bag Café in Kirkland and the Maltby Café in Snohomish where size reigns supreme. International flavors can be found throughout the region: Mexican restaurants like Azul in Mill Creek and Milagro Cantina in Kirkland serve platters from south of the border; Le Grand Bistro in Carillon Point conjures Parisian fare; Kirkland’s Wilde Rover does a nice rendition of an Irish breakfast; and George’s is a local favorite for Greek-inspired omelets. Traditional American-style cuisine is served at Gilberts On Main and Pancake Corral in Bellevue, The Egg & Us in Issaquah, Alexa’s Café and Preservation Kitchen (upscale) in Bothell, and with a local/organic bent at The Grange Café in Duvall.
460 106th Ave. N.E. in Bellevue next to its sibling Purple Café. It is open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 9am-3pm. There is a limited but satisfactory kid’s menu.
Photo courtesy, Julie Arnan; Jeff Hobson for the Barking Frog and The Commons photos; Jon Liss for the first photo and Original Pancake House; Sara Satterlee; Esques; Kathryn Barnard; Heavy Restaurant Group.