5411 Penn Ave South
Was it a dream? Dreams are about wish fulfillment, after all. In my dream, the breakfast clubbers walked into a café they had never visited before, casually ordered a variety of standard breakfast choices, and found themselves spinning in a blur of rich colors, strange shapes, and the most wonderful flavors they had experienced in months. Imagine fleeting images of smiles and laughter, the clink of silverware as every morsel is collected and savored, excitement to the point of confusion.
But wait, it couldn’t have been a dream. There were some sort of creeping plants on the building’s exterior which were being held in place by a copious amount of scotch tape, and none of the TCBCers would ever be responsible for conjuring up something so hideous in a happy dream. So it was real! It happened! It happened at Café Maude, in fact.
Café Maude is probably better known for its nighttime personality – it features live music or a DJ every night, and you would be lucky to secure a table then, as demand far exceeds supply. But breakfast is a different story – five of us walked in and were immediately seated at a comfortable booth. The décor was obviously chosen with an evening crowd in mind (it feels like it should be dark out when you’re there), but the kitchen cares about you just as much as they do about their later diners, and the food is outstanding.
The breakfast menu includes many of the usual selections – omelettes, pancakes, french toast, etc., but they’ve been Maude-ified. The oatmeal has currants, pine nuts, and garam masala (!). The french toast comes with ginger ice cream. On the more unusual side, there’s a sautéed flatbread offering that involves eggs, bacon, cucumber, sri racha, and cilantro, and a really good-looking chorizo hash with fried egg and harissa (hot sauce).
Jimmy and Rachael both tried the Eggs Benedict of the day, which was made with a spicy lamb sausage on French bread. Rachael didn’t understand how Eggs Benedict (with sausage, no less) could be prepared in a manner that wasn’t greasy, but there it was. Alex got an omelette with spinach, feta, crispy potatoes, and harissa, and was moved almost to tears. The potatoes – crispy as crispy can be – were INSIDE the omelette. Other restaurants can’t even manage the crispy potato on its own, Alex exclaimed, and here Maude had achieved it wrapped up in eggs and cheese! I tried the yogurt with fresh berries, honey, granola, and toasted pistachios (a departure for me – though I might add, NOT because I always order breakfast burritos. Don’t believe the other clubbers, readers, they are only trying to make me mad by perpetuating this burrito nonsense). It was delicious and beautifully presented. And finally, Judy ordered the silver dollar pancakes, and liked them well enough, though most club members, Jill excepted, often regret ordering pancakes no matter how good they are. Interesting side note – the menu touts “locally-harvested maple syrup”, which prompted some curiosity. Our server told Judy it actually comes from Wisconsin, so it’s not from the trees on the boulevard or anything.
All in all, so unexpectedly delightful we had to pinch ourselves. But here’s one dream we can have over and over, and you can be sure the breakfast club will visit Maude again.
Official grades (attending members not to reveal special voting procedure to others):
Alex – Omelette with spinach, feta, crispy potatoes, and harissa – A (and she confronted everyone else about exactly WHY they didn’t grant an A too)
Jimmy – Eggs Benedict – B+, points off only for non-fresh-squeezed OJ
Rachael – Eggs Benedict – A-, wished for a little more butter in her meal
Judy – Pancakes – B+, pancake thing.
Fern – Yogurt/Granola – A