Restaurants come and go, and more than once a place has closed just as I was about to review it. But never before have I experienced what I experienced when I sat down for my first review meal at Diego's Family Restaurant in Georgetown Plaza.
“Sorry about the confusion today,” my server said as she prepared to take our drink orders. “We have new owners starting today and from now on we will be the Egg'lectic Café. So things are kind of crazy and, heck, I don't even know if I will have a job next week.”
Even though I knew that visit was a bust, I was glad to see that server kept her job when I returned to this breakfast and lunch spot. And she did a splendid job.
The new menu was also splendid and featured – as one would expect – a lot of inviting egg dishes. I had no trouble finding many I wanted to try, but I thought more were needed to truly reinforce the name.
The best dish, however, had very little egg and didn't highlight the ingredient at all. The Crunchy French Toast was, indeed, soaked in egg but it was the touch of cinnamon in that egg wash and the additional dip into crushed cereal flakes that made it stand out. It was topped with surprisingly fresh and ripe strawberries and blueberries and drizzled with fabulous mascarpone cheese and strawberry sauce that made syrup unnecessary. It was a decadent breakfast that worked beautifully as a perfect dessert.
The Lectic Grilled Cheese had an egg on it and it had cheese, but neither took center stage. But that didn't keep it from being a sandwich that will bring me back.
It was all of the other things between the perfectly crisped Texas Toast – ham, bacon and tomatoes – that made it a winner. The menu stated it came with an over-hard egg, but I asked for over-easy and was appeased to my delight as the runny yolk added what a runny yolk always adds – deliciousness. The sandwich did have a decent amount of American cheese, but to call it a grilled cheese was a stretch.
Egg'lectic offered five variations on eggs Benedict, and I quickly fixated on the Border Benedict, which had chorizo in place of Canadian bacon, pepper jack cheese and green salsa instead of hollandaise. There were problems from the start as one of my poached eggs arrived overcooked with a hard yolk. But the other egg was perfect, which was puzzling to me.
I received a proper replacement egg in short order, but the dish was still flawed. The chorizo was nicely cooked and a little crispy, but the cheese on top was not melted. It was also served on a bowl-like plate so all of the salsa, which was bright, vibrant and spot-on, ran to the bottom making the English muffins soggy.
Another south-of-the-border item, chilaquiles, were a better bet, but it too could have been better. The tortilla chips at the center of this dish were loaded with tender pieces of grilled chicken, onions and avocado all coated with some of that yummy green salsa. There was also cheddar cheese mixed in, but there could have been much more. I had mine with scrambled eggs and was disappointed they were simply lying on top of the dish instead of incorporated into it like they are in traditional chilaquiles, so I will likely go over-easy next time to get some of that runny yolk.
The chicken and waffles also included two eggs, which was not the most unique part of this savory take on the combo that is growing in popularity. The waffles were also dotted with bacon and they and the chicken strips were joined by a cup of sausage gravy. I loved dipping the standard, frozen, restaurant-supply strips, which were anything but impressive on their own, in the gravy. I experimented a lot with this dish, using the gravy and syrup in different ways, but never found a method I liked best.
The avocado toast seemed like a surefire winner, but it fell short of expectations. It looked inviting with a thick layer of avocado and bacon crumbles and green onions dotting the perfectly cooked eggs on top, but the avocado spread was very bland. I would have thought a place that featured several Mexican dishes might have used lime juice and spices to make it more like guacamole. But even if that was not possible, just some basic seasoning would have gone a long way.
The creamy chicken and rice soup also could have been better executed. There was plenty of seasoning in its flavorful base, but it was quite thin and lacking in chicken and rice which made it not worth having again.
Eggs were only included on the grilled cheese and a BLT when it came to the lunchtime offerings, and I think there were more opportunities to incorporate them. There was a chicken salad, but no egg salad, and I think an egg salad with bacon and maybe some of that avocado spread would be appealing to many. And though there were four burgers to choose from, not one of them was topped with an egg, which was a glaring oversight.
There were no oversights in service and the huge space this restaurant calls home, which was once a Fish of Stroh, has little to offer in terms of atmosphere. It is rather vacant with just a few western-themed decorations – wagon wheels and a painting of a saddle – but there were no noise issues and it was a pleasant place to sit and chat while enjoying some eggs.
Restaurant: Egg'Lectic Cafe
Address: 6736 E. State Blvd.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Border Benedict ($7.50). Lectic Grilled Cheese ($7.99), chilaquiles ($7.50), avocado toast ($7.25), Crunchy French Toast ($7.25), chicken and waffles ($7.50)
Rating breakdown: Food: ★ 1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: ★ (1 maximum)
Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at email@example.com; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.
Out of a possible five
• The crepes were not up to snuff. They were a tad spongy and moist as if the batter was a little wet.
• Fresh cinnamon rolls are baked on site daily, but the restaurant was out the day I tried to order one in French toast form. It was disappointing, but I opted for the Crunchy French Toast instead and felt lucky there were no cinnamon rolls given how good it was.
• The sausage gravy that came with my chicken and waffles was serviceable, but its slightly slimy texture had me thinking it was from a mix and not scratch-made.