Breakfast food is my jam (pun totally intended): It’s easy, cheap, delicious and — for the most part — hard to screw up. But just like any other meal, it’s about the experience just as much as it’s about the food.
Isn’t there something peacefully quaint about starting a snowy Saturday at the breakfast table, wrapped in a soft blanket and peering out at the winter wonderland from your cozy kitchen? Doesn’t the plate of hot food and cup of steaming coffee sitting before you warm your heart and soul as much as your stomach?
Yeah, well during the school year, ain’t nobody got time for that. So instead, we settle for a bitterly icy, arduous schlepp to some noisy joint where they serve us cheap coffee and watery eggs.
Welcome to The Broken Egg.
Situated on North Main Street just outside of Kerrytown, The Broken Egg is a humble little spot worth checking out when all of the other breakfast places in Ann Arbor have lines hanging out the door — lines of frostbitten, hungry people. The food is as mediocre as it comes, and the restaurant, well, it’s a sight to behold.
The misleadingly classy brick exterior doesn’t prepare you for what lies within. Picture someone eating an entire Big Ten-themed gift shop and then proceeding to projectile vomit it all over the walls in an unfathomably random manner. Oh, but it gets better: a life-size baby moose stuffed animal, year-round Christmas lights and garland, fake hardwood tables, functioning garage lights, teal vinyl chairs and — in one corner — cheap reprints of famous-ish paintings (famous enough that I recognize them, but not famous enough that I know the names … pretty sure one is stolen from Olive Garden). Truthfully, I’ve seen similar-looking nursing homes.
And don’t even get me started on the treasure hunt that is trying to find the bathroom. If you’ve been here before, you know what I mean.
But let’s not be too judgmental. We haven’t even gotten to the food yet.
My friends and I order an assortment of breakfast items. Some are surprisingly tasty, and some are … not. On the whole, most are just OK.
The Salute to the Bees French Toast is the day’s special, so one of us orders that. There’s the bad (burnt candied pecans and a disappointingly small number of banana slices), and the good (the perfect amount of caramel, a thick and gooey cinnamon topping and freshly whipped cream).
The San Francisco Chocolate Chip Pancakes are generously filled with chocolate chips but are tough, dry and altogether flavorless. As a special treat, strawberries of questionable freshness are also plopped on top. Side note: Am I missing something, or is there absolutely no reason these pancakes are named after San Francisco?
The first real hit of the meal is my Bread Pudding French Toast. Made with thick, Texas-style slices of raisin bread soaked in a rich, cinnamon-scented egg and cream batter and fried on a hot, buttered griddle, this toast is not merely palatable, but a real treat to eat. It is soft and supple in the middle, crispy and browned on the edges, just the right amount of sweet and surprisingly, pleasantly tart from the raspberries on top. Though it could be improved with a few toasted, slivered almonds dashed atop the dollops of whipped cream, I’m still a fan.
About the breakfast meat — which is, for me, an essential component of any hearty breakfast out — I’m utterly blasé. My favorite — breakfast sausage patties — are not even offered; the links are absolutely standard, though these truly are difficult to make “standouts,” and the bacon is nothing but limp and chewy. None of it is good nor is it exceptionally bad, and I’m definitely still bitter about having to be bereaved over sausage patties.
Last on the list are the omelettes, which appease but don’t “wow” me. I would say they’re pretty comparable to something you or I could make at home. The combinations of ingredients for the specialty omelettes range from exotic to expected, coming together to form a taste falling more toward the latter. But still, a four-egg omelette, a side of hash browns and four slices of toast for just over $8 really isn’t bad.
So let’s recap: The omelettes are decent and also a respectably good value; the French toast is truly delicious, and everything else is pretty much your typical small-town-diner, breakfast-food fare.
So why make the arduous schlepp over? Well, I’ve heard the dry toast is pretty good if that’s all you’re in need of some Sunday mornings (or afternoons — I don’t judge). But besides that, how about when those strange family members of yours come in for football games and expect you to recommend a place for brunch?
I can think of a few people for whom The Broken Egg would be just the ticket. You know, the ones too stingy to eat at Café Zola, too lazy to drive to the Northside Grill and too impatient to wait at Angelo’s. Your Aunt Judy, the hoarder, will feel right at home. That senile grandma who’s lost her taste buds? I’m sure she’ll love it. Just don’t expect her to be able to find the bathroom.