When we lived in Boston, J and I had a breakfast place. Ball Square Café is the perfect neighborhood place, and even though it wasn’t exactly in our neighborhood, it was absolutely worth the mile walk. I’ve eaten nearly everything off their menu (though I have a strong preference for the tri-berry French toast), and every breakfast item is a home run. They do huge creative omelets with homefries or grilled mashed potatoes. That’s right, they take the amazingness of buttery mashed potatoes and then grill them up so they have a delicious brown crust. The pancakes are light, fluffy and as large as your head. In addition to my favorite tri-berry French toast, they also do a whole range of stuffed French toasts. Goat cheese and pear French toast was a particular favorite of mine.
The food at Ball Square Café is fantastic, but the people are the best part. The place is tiny, just 10 or 12 tables, and on the weekend there is always a line. We’ve waited in that line for 3 or 4 blocks in summer sunshine, winter snow banks, and even once under umbrellas in the pouring rain. The drinks are all self serve, so you leave someone holding your place in line and go inside to pour a cup of coffee. Mike mans the front door, and he remembers everyone and greets them like old friends. Even if it’s your first visit he’s going to introduce himself, find out your names, make sure you have coffee and find out if he can do anything for you. We took J’s parents there once, and his dad joked about wishing he had a copy of the NY Times. Mike went next door and bought him one and put it at our table.
We haven’t found a breakfast place anything like Ball Square Café since we moved to Berkeley. Nowhere we’ve been excels at making everything on their menu, and there is positively no one like Mike manning the door and making all his customers feel at home.
I can make stuffed French toast at home easily. You just make a sandwich with whatever filling you like (I add a little milk to the goat cheese to make it more spreadable). Other great fillings include banana and nutella, or strawberry and nutella, or really anything and nutella.
Then form a sandwich and dip each side of the sandwich in the egg/milk/vanilla/cinnamon mixture you’d normally use for French toast. Grill the whole thing up in some butter, flipping the sandwich carefully.
I spent my entire long run on Saturday thinking about coming home and making stuffed French toast for breakfast. If I were back in Boston, I’d have spent my entire long run thinking about our breakfast plans at Ball Square. It was perfectly delicious, but not nearly as fun to eat in our kitchen as it would have been to eat at Ball Square Café.
Do you have a favorite breakfast place?