In the same vein as “take-a-day Thursdays,” my (soon-to-be-no-longer…sadness) officemate, Ally Williams, and I have taken to doing “Friday breakfast at Birchwood Cafe” days. Here’s the skinny on this local neighborhood gem that is not exactly helping me with the “skinny” aspect of my life.
I first tried out Birchwood Cafe because I’d hear wonderful things about their savory breakfast waffle. Plus, I love supporting local establishments that cook with local, organic ingredients and vary their menu weekly. The savory waffle is always variations on a theme: some type of cornmeal batter base with a green veggie and cheese mixed in; one quadrant with a fried egg, one quadrant with bacon lardons (essentially big chunks of bacon), one quadrant with a fruity-savory “salsa,” and the final quadrant with some savory butter. Oh, and syrup of course!
The week I went, the waffle was basil and cheddar based with the fried egg, bacon lardons, apple-pluot salsa, and the butter I can’t remember on top. To be honest, the waffle was a little underwhelming, but my expectations were set pretty high with all the raving that was going on. The fried egg was good. Bacon lardons were too chewy for my taste, but I think that’s how they’re supposed to be and I might just not be a lardon fan. The salsa was bland, not sweet nor savory enough. And clearly the butter wasn’t anything to rave about because I can’t even remember what flavor combo it was! Let down 😦
The next week I took Ally with me, but we both got omlettes instead of the waffle (because it had melon salsa on it and Ally isn’t a fan of melons). Omlettes were AMAZING!!! Mine had bacon, caramelized onions, jalapenos, white cheddar cheese, and spinach. It was the fluffiest and least greasy omlette I’ve ever had. It came with toast (and homemade rhubarb-y jam), pan friend potatoes and a little garnish of melon and berries. Ally’s had pesto and tomatoe-y goodness. Verdict: at Birchwood, omlette > waffle.
Finally, week 3 came around and Ally and I went again! She decided to bite the bullet and order the waffle, despite the melon salsa still being on it (I know, I know, I thought Birchwood updated their menu weekly…clearly melon is still in season and no updated menu was needed). Perhaps because I didn’t talk it up so much (and in fact “bad-mouthed” it), or perhaps because the ingredients were just different (kale + cheddar batter, egg, bacon lardons, melon salsa, and tomato basil butter), Ally LOVED the waffle. As for myself, I ordered the exact same omlette as last week and it was not as good the second time around. Eggs a little too overcooked and served with cold toast. Like, toast so cold the butter wasn’t melted on top. Blech!
With this much inconsistency, I don’t know if I could call Birchwood Cafe my favorite restaurant or feel comfortable taking out of town guests there. Sure, the menu is inventive, seasonal, and really showcases the local flavors and vibe of Minneapolis. They serve Peace coffee (my favorite Twin Cities roaster!) to boot, too! But the place has yet to WOW me, so I’m giving it a “meh” rating for now.
Pros: Peace coffee, local flavors, free wi-fi
Cons: inconsistent, seasonal menu doesn’t actually change weekly?, ordering/paying system (that’s a WHOLE OTHER post of pet peeves right there)
Price: A little pricey, but portions are good. Probably not the best value. About $15 for coffee and a breakfast entree.
Parking: Street; hard to find location, so bring your GPS. Parking is a cinch to find once you’re in the neighborhood.