(Wild Eggs, Voice-Tribune, Nov. 8, 2007)
Who doesn’t love breakfast? The resounding success of a series of fancy yet comfortable breakfast and brunch spots around Louisville strongly suggests that most people in the Derby City do.
First there was Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, which has all but become a local institution in nearly 20 years of serving us pancakes, french toast and more. A couple of years ago, Toast on Market opened to rave reviews and has been packed ever since.
And now, in the East End, Wild Eggs seems poised to make it a morning trifecta.
This new eatery is open daily for breakfast, brunch and lunch but closes down well before dinner time. It’s a joint operation by restaurateurs J.D. Rothberg and Shane Hall, who also manage the popular Napa River Grill, and it is feeding happy crowds after a month in operation. If you go on a weekend morning in particular, we recommend taking along a magazine (or maybe a copy of The Voice-Tribune) to keep you occupied while you wait for your table.
Located in the small building that long housed a Tumbleweed and, briefly, Herman’s Deli, Wild Eggs has been thoroughly renovated. Now it sports bright yet delicate pastel colors that might remind you of Easter eggs or a perfect sunrise. A wall of, well, wild eggs frames a small lobby, and the dining section is artfully set up with a floor plan that makes the open space feel as if it’s subdivided into more intimate sections. Modern art evokes eggs, too, as do white china salt and pepper shakers in the shape of henfruit.
The menu, as you might expect, offers an appetizing variety of egg dishes, omelets and frittatas from $3.95 (for two eggs “your way” with skillet potatoes and a muffin) to $11.95 (for several choices such as a Creole omelet with rock shrimp and andouille sausage to “Jimmy the Greek,” a black-olive, tomato and spinach frittata with feta cheese). More breakfast goodies include traditional favorites such as biscuits and gravy or old-fashioned oatmeal (both $5.95), french toast ($4.50 to $8.95), pancakes and waffles ($3.95 to $5.95).
Prefer something more like lunch? There’s a full page of salads, soups, sandwiches and luncheon plates, ranging in price from $2.95 (for a cup of soup) to $11.95 (for a sirloin steak salad, grilled salmon linguini or, one of our favorites, “Kiss my shrimp and grits.”
Endless coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, tea or soft drinks are available, plus adult libations (only available after 1 p.m. on Sunday) from a full bar.
I’ve been back repeatedly and still hope to work my way eventually through the entire menu. We haven’t hit a disappointment yet.
Some of our favorites have included the aforementioned shrimp and grits ($11.95), a fairly straightforward, filling rendition of this Low Country Carolinas dish that has become a Louisville favorite since Jack Fry’s introduced it here a decade ago. A wide bowl of exceptionally creamy, rich white grits is topped with a generous portion of small, sweet rock shrimp and sauced with a savory, slightly piquant red-eye gravy that brings it all together.
Kalamity Kate’s Border Benedict ($9.95) adds a Tex-Mex touch to the breakfast classic, perching two perfect poached eggs atop a pair of mild, sweet corn cakes studded with green chiles and topped with crumbled chorizo sausage; it’s topped with a creamy, cheesy “queso fundido,” a toothsome alternative to the classic Hollandaise, and garnished with a tangy pico de gallo made with bits of avocado.
Grits are invariably a hit, whether you go with the classic original or the special “grits of the day.” I’m still smitten with the three-cheese-and-green-chile model they dreamed up the other day.
Service from nattily attired servers in pastel-blue golf shirts and khakis has been consistently above reproach, and portions are so generous that we invariably end up taking a box of leftovers home. Pricing is fair if not budget-level: If you enjoy a full breakfast for two with coffee and a side order or two, count on spending around $30 plus tip.
3985 Dutchmans Lane