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Best of Anchorage brunch: the Benedict files

Mara Severin
Bear Tooth Grill eggs Benedict
Photo by Mara Severin
Cafe Amsterdam eggs Benedict
Photo by Mara Severin

My 16 chickens and six ducks all live in a coop called the Eggs Benedictine Chapel. Which is to say that I take my eggs seriously. Very, very seriously. And that's why I love eggs Benedict: it's an egg dish topped with more eggs. Eggs blanketed in egg sauce. Eggs made eggier through the use of more eggs. It's a breakfast dish that flies in the face of the concept "less is more."

So with a "more is more" attitude, I set about trying some of the city's best eggs Benedict dishes. My cholesterol level is probably through the roof, but that seems a small price to pay in the pursuit of culinary research.

I began at Snow City Café, downtown's breakfast mecca. They have several Benedict variations on the menu and I tried the one that seeks to answer that eternal breakfast question -- Benedict or Florentine? I'm a firm believer that a Benedict is not complete without a salty, meaty component, so I routinely eschew the tomato/spinach variation. Snow City gets kudos for their B.O.B.B., or "Best of Both Benedicts" ($12.95) -- a classic preparation with a tomato/spinach twist. The eggs were perfectly poached and the hollandaise was light and frothy, with a pleasant hit of acid. Surprisingly, I finished my meal feeling fueled and not full. Snow City also gets extra points for sensational hash-browns. A square of moist, tender potatoes with a well-browned, crispy exterior, these are an elevated version of the greasy but craveable potatoes that generally come with a Denny's platter.

The Eggs Benny Benson ($12) at Spenard Roadhouse was beautiful to look at, but I had a problem with the hollandaise sauce; it was too acidic. So while the sauce felt creamy, it didn't taste creamy (if that makes sense). The flavor overwhelmed the soft, runny yolks, which are my favorite part of the whole construction. It was a little bit like a poached egg sandwich topped with salad dressing.

Next I headed to F Street Station on the advice of an enthusiastic friend. Despite its popularity, I have always been able to resist the lure of F Street -- it's not, to me, a terribly welcoming place. But I put my prejudice aside and approached their brunch with an open mind. I found a seat at the bar and ordered the Benedict without looking at a menu. Weirdly, the bartender asked me if I wanted "reindeer sausage with that." I assumed she meant that reindeer sausage was their variation on the traditional Canadian bacon. Confused, I asked what my options were. Her answer was a curt, "Yes or no." Huh. So I said yes, not wanting to eat a Benedict sans some form of cured meat. When my meal arrived, I got a traditional eggs Benedict, complete with Canadian bacon and a small plate of reindeer sausage on the side. Again, huh. Let me recap: First, I was confused by her question, then I answered it, then I understood the question, then I reflected, and then I was confused by the question again. Who needs a side of sausage with a dish that comes with ham?

In a previous article, I wrote that F Street's bloody mary should not be consumed before operating heavy machinery. The same can be said of their eggs Benedict. No light, frothy concoction here. The hollandaise was a thick, warm blanket atop the eggs. Some might even say the quantity was excessive. I am not among them. The sauce was silky, decadent and flavorful, with just the barest hint of lemon. I polished off the eggs (ignoring the so-so potatoes and reindeer sausage) and then proceeded to polish the plate. With my index finger. I was discreet, I swear. A word of warning, however. This dish is not fuel -- it's a sedative. Add a bloody mary and you may need to cancel plans for the whole weekend. Should you decide to try this decadent dish, you should do so as part of a three-step process: 1. Bloody mary. 2. Eggs Benedict. 3. Nap.

Bear Tooth Grill offers a more sprightly eggs Benedict -- their BT Benny ($13) is a dish with a kick. Anaheim peppers, recado ham and chipotle hollandaise sauce make up a somewhat fiery preparation. If you're the type who puts Tabasco on your scrambled eggs, this might be the wake-up dish for you. Being a purist, I wouldn't consider it my favorite version. I prefer my eggs to be unaggressive and comforting. I also didn't care for the whole-wheat English muffin, which was undertoasted. The flavor of whole wheat had too much presence in the dish, and wasn't the neutral, merely textural element that I prefer.

My last eggs Benedict (and it will be my last, at least for a very long while) was at Café Amsterdam. Their version ($14) was a nice way to end my research -- a classic and well-executed preparation with a beautifully balanced hollandaise and a generous portion of thinly sliced ham. I'm also partial to the restaurant's homey and old-fashioned ambience, which has an element of "your grandma's kitchen." Even though I was there at lunchtime in the middle of a busy weekday, the cozy room and friendly service gave me the temporary feeling of a lazy Sunday morning.

Fun fact: In 2014, National Eggs Benedict Day will be celebrated on April 16, which is the same week as my birthday. Two me-centric celebrations in the same week? Why, it's a little bit like having eggs with more eggs on top.

Bear Tooth Grill
Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri.,
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Location: 1230 W. 27th Ave.
Phone: 276-4200

Spenard Roadhouse
Brunch: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Location: 1049 W. Northern Lights Blvd.
Phone: 770 -ROAD

Snow City Café
Brunch: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Friday,
7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Location: 1034 West 4th Avenue
Phone: 272-CITY

Café Amsterdam
Brunch: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tues.-Sat.,
7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
Location: 530 E. Benson Blvd. #3
Phone: 274-0074

F Street Station
Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Location: 325 F Street
Phone: 272-5196

 

Want to rave or pan? Write your own review of this restaurant or any other recently reviewed place at adn.com/dining.


By Mara Severin
Daily News correspondent