Thursday, May 27, 1999
Just opened a month ago, Breaker's Cafe will quickly win the attentions of breakfast and lunch seekers motivated more by comfort than splash. John and Kimm Stidham thought it was high time to re-introduce "traditional American cafe cuisine" to the local lineup of eateries, and the results should appeal to both nostalgia buffs as well as someone just on the lookout for an honest, soul-satisfying plate of homemade biscuits and sausage gravy.
Part of a genre of true believers who know that biscuits and gravy and French dips, done properly, will never go out of style, the Stidhams have quickly won local regulars who feel exactly the same way. "We make our biscuits from scratch and our gravy from ground pork sausage," John attests, "and it's the kind with real chunks of sausage--not little flecks." Music to the ears of gravy purists everywhere.
Besides menus that speak of good, down-home, American-style food, the ambiance echoes the same feel. Formerly known as Riley's, the place lost the ice cream parlor decor and sends out a "come in and get cozy" invitation. Brightly colored, window-framed murals are offset by dark-stained wainscot walls and comfortable, antique-ish tables and chairs. A lunch counter with commodious high-back stools adds to the effect, one that may well be reminiscent of what your first dining experience might have been like--depending on how far back you go.
On the lookout for the "right place" for the last three years, the Stidhams have a long history in the restaurant business. They admit they're used to working together; John first hired Kimm years ago at a place he was managing on Cannery Row. And, as restaurant people are often wont to acknowledge, after many years in the habit of working late to close up shop, they both consider breakfast their favorite meal.
Not surprisingly, the menu consists of some of their favorite ways to start the morning, like John's Special platter full of eggs, scrambled with spinach, onions, ground beef, mushrooms and garlic. House-breaded, chicken-fried steak and eggs are also popular among hearty appetites. Given the local predilection for calamari, you'll find it breaded and fried and served with eggs any style. The Italian frittata could also be an easy lunch favorite, filled with Italian sausage, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and potatoes and smothered with Jack cheese and marinara.
Besides a dozen omelets--executed in a saute pan rather than rolled on a griddle wins more kudos here--there's plenty more to choose from, hot off the griddle. The French toast is custardy inside and crisp from a dip in the deep fryer on the outside. Cinnamon apple, blueberry and banana walnut pancakes are done buttermilk style, and thin, crepe-like strawberry cakes are offered for weekend brunch, from an expanded list of choices. Along with house-made corned beef hash, several Benedicts are offered.
Lunch finds two kinds of homemade soup and chili on the menu every day, to pair up with several salads (the Club in this case is turkey, bacon and avocado over mixed greens) and a dozen sandwiches. Burgers and melts make up the rest of the list, the chicken Parmesan melt over sourdough and the roast beef and green chile melt with pepper Jack cheese being steady favorites.
Sunday sees another appealingly down-home touch--roast turkey with all the trimmings, served after noon. Priced at a friendly $8.25, it's enough to convince you that these are the good old days.
1126 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, 375-8484
Hours: 7am-2:30pm Monday-Friday, 8am-3pm Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast served all day, lunch from 11am, brunch served all day Saturday and Sunday.
Price range: Under $2-7.25