Sometimes it seems like there’s no better way to start a long, lazy Saturday than a hearty breakfast. And when I talk about breakfast, I don’t mean brunch. Eggs, bacon and toast, not your quiche and salad bar. A steaming cup of strong coffee works for me, save the Champagne and the bloody Mary for later in the day, thanks.
I’ve been enjoying dining out for breakfast quite a bit lately, discovering a number of recent restaurant arrivals that either specialize in breakfast or at least make it a serious part of their bill of fare. Let’s celebrate this sunny Saturday with a quick look at a half-dozen of them.
I have to confess that I was a little shy at first about checking out Logos Coffee House (2250 Frankfort Ave,  897-2272), pictured above.
The funky setting in the little frame house that previously home to Nermana’s Bosnian was attractive, and the battered blue VW bus that forms a rolling signboard out front spoke to memories of a ’60s youth. But the name (“The Word,” in Greek) hinted at the possibility that it might be an evangelistic outreach eatery (like the scattered “Coffee Crossings” around town); and while I don’t have anything against The Pious, I’m not interested in sermons with my coffee. As it turned out, there’s nothing to fear. It’s an appropriately secular venue, with good, well-made espresso drinks, a small selection of pastries, cheesecake slices in individual plastic boxes, and homemade pies from Thornberry’s, a South End tradition that’s been around even longer than the blue bus.
Meanwhile, I felt no such qualms about checking out Lazy Jane Cafe, just a couple of blocks from Logos at 2339 Frankfort Ave. ( 896-2230. Light, bright and airy, it occupies the tiny (and much cleaned-up and repainted) storefront that formerly housed the odd and idiosyncratic Me Oh My Jumbalay. It’s very inviting now, with white cafe curtains and sunny buttercup-color walls and room for just a few simple tables and chairs along with the serving counter and cases full of appetizing pastries and desserts. Open only for breakfast and lunch, it offers a selection of salads, soups and sandwiches at midday, where we’ve become fairly regular customers for such goodies as the breakfast burrito, cheese grits and the eggs benedict. Extra credit for strong, fresh coffee (no espresso drinks) and a free copy of The New York Times for customer perusal.
Meanwhile, down in Butchertown, New Jersey emigrés Frank and Debbie Travisano have moved in to the quarters vacated by the trendy but all-too-short-lived Fusion and have returned it to its downscale, downhome roots as a friendly neighborhood diner. Old-timers will recall this place as the longtime home of Min’s Cafeteria, which was universally (and lovingly) nicknamed “Dirty” Min’s. Upon the departure of that old standard it was briefly home to a string of short-lived successors including Baby Doe, Ten Pin (with a bowling-lanes theme), the Greek Paradise and then Fusion.
The Travisano’s new entry, Time to Eat Café (1605 Story Ave., ( 583-0038) definitely fits into the classic diner model. Unfortunately, having eaten in more than a few Jersey diners, I’m pretty much over the genre. The fare is cheap and competently prepared – an over-easy egg was as perfectly fashioned as ever I’ve seen – glistening white and grease-free, the yolk hot and thick but not hard – but the accompanying steak (on a steak-and-egg breakfast, $4.10) was a gristly slice of well-done rib eye as thin as shoe leather and just about as tough. A cheese omelet ($2.10) was palatable but odd, a thin, flat griddle omelet wrapped like a blanket around bland American cheese, with two triangles of similar cheese draped un-melted on top. Hash browns (80 cents as a substitute for grits) were more like home fries, browned and somewhat greasy cubes of potato.
On a lunch visit, a Kathy Platter hamburger ($4.45) was pretty much a homespun variation on a Big Mac, two thin, dry and overdone hamburger patties on a double-decker white bun, with lettuce, tomato and a “special sauce” that looked and tasted like tartar sauce to me. A diner classic, liver and onions ($4.75) featured a half-inch-thick slice of calf liver cooked all the way through, no rare-pink center as Fusion might have done, with salty, long-cooked green beans and a mound of thick mashed potatoes with brown, bouillon-flavored thick gravy filling a center well. No complaints about the price, though, 12 bucks and change plus a $3 tip for two.
Finally, Karma Cafe has replaced the short-lived Rendezvous Café at 1126 Bardstown Road. The reincarnation does not appear much different from its predecessor, with little change in the building or its decor, which is an attractive and eclectic mix of bold wall colors and modern art with a Bardstown Road-funky casual feel.
Like Rendezvous, it’s open all night on weekends (although a server disclosed that light traffic may prompt that policy to change before long), and like Rendezvous, it offers an eclectic mix of short-order dishes and more ethnic fare with a Middle Eastern accent. Imagine, if you will, throwing the menus from Twig & Leaf and Ramsi’s into a blender and buzzing until they meld.
The lunch and dinner menu has some interesting, offbeat items (like an intriguing vegetarian “grilled potato sandwich” for $4.49 that features boiled potatoes, onions, tomatoes, grilled chile peppers and cilantro on grilled bread). But we came for breakfast and left reasonably satisfied with a mixed pepper piperade omelet ($4.99), a rather dry omelet stuffed with barely cooked tomato dice and neatly chopped red, green and yellow bell peppers and onion; and a credible breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs and black beans and served with a well-fashioned fresh-tomato salsa. It was marred only by an oddly rubbery-tough flour tortilla that gave evidence of having been warmed in the microwave. Table cards advertised an upscale Belgian coffee, but the java we got in brown earthenware mugs tasted more of the old-fashioned church-supper coffee urn.