Where to go for breakfast in and around Boston? That's the question of the day and Chronicle, WCVB's news magazine show has some answers. I was delighted when I was asked for some recommendations for their breakfast show. We went back and forth, ethnic? Power breakfast? Hole-in-the-Wall? I'll be appearing in a couple of spots on the show Monday February 28 @ 7:30.
A Sense of Place on your Plate
One of the unique things about Boston is that hotel dining is often quite good, if not excellent. In most cities, the hotel restaurant is the last place you'd recommend or try. Not so here. One of my favorite places for breakfast, Henrietta's Table, is in the Charles Hotel and a perfect example of how Boston breaks this rule.
Chef Peter Davis was awarded "Sustainer of the Year” by Chefs Collaborative, a leading nonprofit network of chefs that fosters a sustainable food system through advocacy, education, and collaboration with the broader food community. The Sustainer Award “recognizes a chef with a demonstrated understanding that food choices emphasizing delicious, locally grown, seasonally fresh, and whole or minimally processed ingredients are good for us, for local farming communities, and for the planet."
One of the reasons I like Henrietta's Table (besides the adorable pig for whom the restaurant was named) is the fact that Chef Davis lets you taste a sense of place on your plate. His red flannel hash uses locally raised and cellared root vegetables, the eggs are from Chippen Farms or Pete and Jenn's Backyard Birds, there's local cranberry Anadama bread for French toast. Peter has long been a champion of local growers and producers and you can really taste New England in his food.
The restaurant's motto is "Fresh & Honest" and it's also the name of his cookbook:
The cookbook Fresh & Honest is available at the restaurant or click on the title to purchase it from my Powell's Bookshelf.
Here's a photo of Chef Davis with the happy hens at Pete & Jenn's Backyard Birds. You'll recall they are the lovely farm that donated chickens for my Sustainable Meats 101 class and from whom I procured a bunny for my first-ever rabbit dish at home.
Scattered throughout the cookbook are gorgeous photos (courtesy of Heath Robbins) and introductions to the growers and producers Chef Davis loves. Here's an example of Chippen Farm in Bedford, one of Chef's egg purveyors. Very tasty eggs, those.
I highly recommend the smoked ham chop or the red flannel hash if you're in a meat mood, or the Anadama bread French toast or the yogurt parfait, if you're not.
A Cultural Journey to Start your Day
If you're hankering for a trip farther afield, how about breakfast in Italy? The newish Caffe Nuovo offers such specialities as Spaghetti Carbonara or Veal Milanese topped with eggs for breakfast. How about a 10 oz Angus Burger topped with bacon and eggs? You can order sides of Broccoli Rabe sausage or Milanese, Maryland Lump Crabmeat or fresh picked Maine Lobster, if you like.
What I sampled:
- Polenta with eggs - creamy delicious, with perfectly done eggs over easy. This polenta was perfect and the dish, elegant.
- Stracciatella Scrambled Egg Drop Soup chicken consommé and parmesan cheese - this was one of the most unique items sampled. The eggs are allowed to cloud up and set in an umami-rich consummé.
- Italian Vegetable Frittata filled with asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach.
Bonus: All Caffe Nuovo's eggs are organic, the toast is Scali bread and the OJ is fresh squeezed.
Other Places to go for Breakfast
Because my "power breakfast" days are far behind me (or maybe just ahead?) I seldom have breakfast meetings. My breakfast of choice is usually Hei La Moon dim sum if it's not coffee in my jammies. So, I turned to one of the best food authorities a girl could be lucky enough to know, MC Slim Jb. Trust me, if you want to know where to eat or what to order once you're there, this is an amazing resource.
Here then, are some of Slim's and some of my own recommendations for whatever your breakfast needs may be:
- Out of the way, for discreet meetings: Mike & Patty's in Bay Village (I love Mike & Patty's for the Peameal bacon, among other things)
- Dot2Dot Cafe in Dorchester - brunch 7 days/wk including amazing grilled fish breakfast and "astonishing brioche French Toast" (British chef/owner bakes her own bread)
- Blunch - cafe near the Boston Medical Center. See Slim's post here.
Slim's got real chops when it comes to Eastie and other neighborhoods for traditional foods from other places, like Mexico, Guatemala, or Vietnam.
- Restaurante Montecristo (Eastie), which does a very nice Salvadoran/Guatemalan breakfast;
- Angela's Cafe (Eastie), Mexican; (I found this place on Slim's recommendation and it was fantastic)
- Pho Pasteur (Chinatown - Vietnamese) Phô is much more commonly eaten as breakfast or lunch fare than for dinner in Vietnam.
- Power breakfast or high-end: Probably the Fairmont Battery Wharf or the Mandarin Oriental.
- Dim sum: Hei La Moon. Hands down.
- If dairy allergy were not an issue: Flour Bakery + Café.
- I've been told to get on a water taxi and head to Scups but haven't followed orders yet.