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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Photos: new brunch menu at Due Amici

One of my favorite brunch spots in town, Due Amici, recently updated their brunch menu, and they invited me to try a few of the new items. The new menu has introduced some completely new dishes while revamping a couple of favorites. Their overall goal was to make it more “authentically Italian,” which includes changing up some ingredients, renaming a few things, and adding some new eats. Notable additions include the crispella del giorno (crepe of the day), which may be savory or sweet, depending on seasonal and locally available ingredients. There’s also a new margherita pizza, soups and pasta, and a salmon eggs benedict (which I need to try on a return visit).

One thing that didn’t change: they’re still serving coffee from Cafe Brioso, just down the street. Due uses a special espresso blend. Always good.

When it comes to beverages, most folks are there for Due Amici’s popular Bloody Mary cart. Judging by how busy they were at the cart, customers are ordering quite a few!

They typically roll up the cart tableside, which lets you customize your Bloody Mary. Ours was very good. Crisp and refreshing, just right for a beautiful August morning.

One of our favorites from the old menu was the breakfast pizza, and it’s returned in a new, “more breakfasty” form. The previous version was essentially a standard pizza topped with some sausage and a fried egg. This edition substitutes a white sausage gravy for the red sauce, and adds potatoes, bacon, and keeps the fried egg. Suggestion: break that yolk and dip a slice in it.

One new addition – and our favorite of the morning – was the Greek yogurt parfait. The yogurt is made in-house, and is layered with granola and fresh berries, and served with filo dough crisps.

Our server explained to us that you’re supposed to pile the yogurt mixture on the crisps. We wouldn’t have known that if she hadn’t told us, but we’re glad she did. Overall, a very well-balanced and delicious dish.

Our final meal was the French toast stuffed with berries, cream cheese, and a berry sauce (coulis) drizzled on top. Again, the actual choice of fruit will vary depending on the season.

The brunch was busier than I remember it being, so word seems to be getting out. With the combined power of Due Amici, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, and now the new Zen Cha Tea Salon location, Gay Street is becoming a hotspot for weekend brunching! Has anyone else tried the new Due Amici menu?

If you want to visit:
Due Amici
67 E. Gay St. downtown
due-amici.com
Serving brunch 11a-4p Saturdays and Sundays

The Koffee Kuppe | Fremont, MI

The Koffee Kuppe (Facebook)
46 W. Main St. (map it!)
Fremont, MI 49412
(231) 924-1046
Open Mon-Fri, 6:30a-10p; Fri, 7a-9p; Sat, 8a-9p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Date of Visit: Wednesday, July 31, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Chalk this up as one of those simple, I-just-had-to blog posts. But I’m always excited to find THAT coffee shop, the one that’s bustling with activity, filled with locals, and smack dab in the middle of a smaller downtown.

The interiors are always new and nicely appointed, and they serve the full range of coffee drinks well. On our recent vacation in western Michigan, we stayed in Fremont and enjoyed a week of boating in the lake, tubing down a river, and other good family times. While jetting around town, we stopped in Koffee Kuppe a couple times. My guilty pleasure is an iced chai with a shot of espresso, and they did this very well.

But I was surprised to find a fairly comprehensive breakfast menu, including breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and paninis. They also had a peanut butter apple crisp (PB, apples, and granola in a honey wheat wrap) and the Jam ‘N’ Bananas, with cream cheese, strawberry jam, bananas, and granola in a flour tortilla.

One fascinating bit was the omelet bar. In a coffee shop. At first it seemed like a crazy idea, but after a moment it made more sense: you load up your ingredients, just like at a salad bar, then turn them over for the kitchen to whip into an omelet. Brilliant!

Overall, Koffee Kuppe made for a welcome respite and some delicious iced coffee on a busy vacation. Always nice to discover these places!

OTHER LINKS:

Koffee Kuppe on Urbanspoon

The Grant Depot | Grant, MI

The Grant Depot
22 W. Main St. (map it!)
Grant, MI 49327
(231) 834-7361
Open Mon-Thurs, 5:30a-8p; Fri & Sat, 5:30a-9p; Sun, 8a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Tuesday, July 30, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: In case I haven’t said it before: Dekkers like trains. I could just as easily started Trains With Nick as I did with Breakfast With Nick five years ago. There’s just something so fascinating about them. They’re big and unstoppable. They’re noisy. They travel along definite paths. They’re a piece of history still rolling today.

So when the ENTIRE Dekker family is on vacation in western Michigan, and we decide to go out for breakfast, then OF COURSE we’re going to the restaurant that was an old train depot and still has active tracks running mere feet away from it.

ATMOSPHERE: The Grant Depot is housed in, well, the old Grant depot. The restaurant is packed with railroad paraphernalia: trains, lights, posters, photos, even some working equipment. (See the bottom of the post for more pictures.) They seated our large group in the upper room, although I’m not sure what was so upper about it…

…given that it was on the exact same level as the lower dining room. But I certainly won’t complain. The restaurant was busy and yet they easily accommodated a giant group like ours.

FOOD: We of course started with coffee. I love that small-town breakfast joints have the customized mugs or paper placemats with local advertising.

FOOD: With a big family, we ordered a lot of different things, so I’ll let the line-up of pictures mostly speak for themselves.

The whole meal was a curious mix of homemade plus bulk-made. Usually restaurants lean one way or the other, but Grant Depot mixed it up. Take this plate, for instance: probably frozen hash brown patties + powdered eggs. The eggs were too uniform of a consistency, from one dish to the next, to be cooked fresh.

And then there’s toast made with giant slices of homemade bread! Like I said, a confusing mix.

Country fried steak and gravy.

Side of biscuits and gravy.

French toast.

And a breakfast burrito. All pretty straightforward stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary, but nothing bad.

SERVICE: Our server was (I think) the manager, and he was nice but seemed very harried the whole time. But we liked how he designated the different families when we split up our checks. We had to wait a little while for our food – not surprising with a large group – but that afforded us time to wander outside near the train tracks. The manager said about two trains a day come through Grant. Sadly, not while we ate breakfast.

OVERALL: The Grant Depot is more remarkable for its location and decor than its food, but sometimes a fun atmosphere and good company are more important than the meal anyway. If you need a good breakfast and a history lesson and you’re near the small town of Grant, give the Depot a try. Plus, the area is perfect for vacationing!

OTHER LINKS & MORE PICTURES:
The Grant Depot on Urbanspoon

Pictured above is a still-working floor scale near the entryway of the Depot.

Sign-in book up front.

The Depot in its heyday.

Out front is an old caboose and the water tower, apparently a signature piece of history along with the Depot.

Photos: pancakes on the Hills Market veranda!

Who wants pancakes? Okay, better question: who doesn’t? Saturdays and Sundays on the Hills Market veranda, you can eat your fill of delicious blueberry pancakes. With the weather taking a chillier turn (for now, at least), a plate of pancakes, sausage, and a cup of hot coffee is just the ticket!

This past Saturday I hosted (read: ate pancakes and annoyed Kate, the pancake maker) the pancake breakfast as part of the Hills’ farmers market and Foodie Fair, their kick-off for Local Foods Week.

It didn’t take long for the veranda to fill up!

The pancake breakfasts are served Saturdays and Sundays, but the bonus of going Saturday is that you get to hang with Kate. She makes some wicked awesome pancakes.

The normal serving is a stack of three pancakes, which is a steal for $5. And I love some sausage links with my pancakes. You can help yourself to Silver Bridge coffee, too, and for an extra dollar you can get real Ohio maple syrup.

For an added bonus, I wandered over to the Jeni’s Ice Cream truck and picked up scoops of their Honey Vanilla Bean and Salty Caramel. And what do you know? They taste pretty amazing on blueberry pancakes. Now, how do I convince Jeni to do a Breakfast With Nick ice cream flavor?

Eat a local breakfast!

Local Foods Week is nearly upon us! Join Local Matters from August 11-19 for a jam-packed schedule of markets, tastings, tours, classes, trucks, and family events (see complete schedule at the link above). Remember that you should always start with a good breakfast, so if you want to get a solid beginning to the week, you need a hearty early meal. You can kick off the celebration by stopping at one of these suggested places.

One of my regular breakfasts around town, Katalina’s Cafe Corner, prides itself on sourcing local ingredients whenever possible. Their favorite Mazatlan pork and egg sandwich uses a succulent pork shoulder from Bluescreek Farms. Likewise, the spices for their Latin-themed dishes come from local markets or from North Market Spices.

Likewise, Rick and Krista at Knead Urban Diner pride themselves on creating delectable meals out of Ohio ingredients. They cure many of their own meats, bake their own breads and pastries, and literally hang a map on the wall showing from where their ingredients are sourced. Rick’s house-made bacon is worthy of note, or their homemade sausage gravy and biscuits, featuring eggs from Holistic Acres.

And don’t forget the coffee! Columbus is full of strong coffee roasters. The recently opened One Line Coffee in Short North roasts their own beans in Heath, Ohio. They use all manner of coffee preparations – hot and cold, simple and complex – to show off their roasts.

Even if you’re making breakfast at home this week, try picking up some local ingredients to build your dishes. Stop by the Clintonville Community Market or North Market Poultry & Game for Ohio eggs. Pick up some challah from Eleni-Christina Bakery in Short North. Visit any one of the city’s farmers’ markets to get fresh veggies for an omelet.

Join me for the start of Local Foods Week tomorrow morning! I’m hosting the pancake breakfast at the Hills Market from 8-11, and I’ll be selling/signing books, too!

de-NOVO bistro & bar | Columbus, OH

de-NOVO bistro & bar (Facebook)
201 S. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 222-8830
Open Mon-Fri, 8a-10p (bfast served till 11a); Sat & Sun, brunch served 8a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, July 23, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: On the surface, de-NOVO seems like a snappy, cluttered, downtown, after-hours hangout. And maybe it really is those things. After all, it sports a lavishly decorated bar, lots of cab tables with little candles, racks of wine bottles, and huge chandeliers. But would you be surprised to learn that they also serve a wonderful breakfast… starting at 7 a.m… on weekdays? I’ll admit that I was.

Mrs. Breakfast With Nick and I found ourselves downtown on a Monday morning – a Monday, for goodness’ sake – and made our way to de-NOVO’s slim storefront on High Street, overlooking the Columbus Commons.

de-NOVO’s interior, much like their website, can be best described as eclectic. Tall chandeliers, antlers, branches, modern seating, a backlit glass bar, two TVs, shelves full of stuff… this place has got everything! It certainly gives you something to look at, but it’s hard to see a real through-line to the design.

But big lighting with tree branches seems to be a motif.

We did love the local artwork on the walls. Large scale, very colorful. Fitting for the design aesthetic.

FOOD: It was early, and it was Monday, so first: coffee. Two big mugs, plus a box of the sweet stuff, plus a cup of chilled creamer. Our server said they serve one of Seattle’s Best’s blends. It was very good, but I’d love to see a local brew there, especially something from Cafe Brioso or One Line Coffee nearby.

One way of dealing with Mondays is to drink a Bloody Mary. We didn’t have a lot on the docket for the day, so we decided to try one. It was light and spicy. I’ve come to appreciate that a good Bloody Mary isn’t supposed to be thick and heavy like a glass of V8, but instead is a crispy and refreshing beverage, very appropriate for starting your day, whether it’s at 7am or 2pm.

My wife ordered the truffle mushroom omelet, with comes with shitake mushrooms, shallots, truffle oil, and boursin cheese. The eggs were done just right, and the whole omelet just came together very well. Overall lighter flavoring, but the mushrooms really shone through. I’ll be honest: I’m not usually an omelet fan (too many bad omelets will do that to you), but this one I could really get behind. Good creamy texture from the boursin as well.

I went with the chorizo gravy and biscuits. It’s a very flavorful meal. The chorizo gravy is rich, meaty, and a bit smoky, with just the right amount of bite to it. The biscuits themselves are dense but still very moist. It’s a very filling dish, but I really enjoyed every bite of it. I like that they did something interesting with biscuits and gravy, too. Both meals came with a side of de-NOVO’s griddle browns, which are essentially home fries. But they were nice and crispy on the outside without being dry, and were served with homemade ketchup. It’s a bit on the sweet side, and a little tangy, but a great complement to the browns. I just wanted to keep eating them and eating them.

SERVICE: Because we were the only people in the restaurant, we naturally got very personal, attentive service. Our server, who was also the host, kept the coffee refilled and answered our questions, plus our food came out quickly. I’m telling you, if you want a nice, quiet breakfast downtown, this might be your place.

OVERALL: I can’t speak to their lunch, dinner, and bar service, but in terms of breakfast there’s a lot to recommend de-NOVO. The menu offers the very basics (you could just get some eggs and bacon, if you want), but it gives you more creative options, too, like creme brulee French toast, crepes, a crab cake benedict. The decor is a little all-over-the-place, but it’s better than bland cream colors. And if Columbus has another interesting spot for the breakfast – especially downtown – I’m all for it!

Side note: I do think they need a better website. Too much flash, difficult to navigate.

OTHER LINKS:

De-NOVO Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at the Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is in full swing, showcasing all of the best that Ohio has to offer. While I was judging the Ultimate Breakfast Competition last Saturday, Mrs. Breakfast With Nick did some recon on the Fair’s breakfast offerings. Although the Fair focuses on visitors who come later in the day, there are still some delicious finds if you’re willing to arrive early. Notice, for instance, that you can sample a bacon cinnamon roll.

Apparently one of the big attractions are the mini donuts. It’s not a complete visit to the Fair without some fried food!

Even when there’s no one wandering the fairgrounds, you’ll still find a line for mini donuts.

The donuts are fried fresh, then topped with cinnamon and sugar or powdered sugar. They’re simple but likable.

There are two booths, one near each entrance on 11th and 17th Avenues.

Of course, if you want to take your donut love to the next level, stop by the Krispy Kreme booth and try a donut burger.

Or you can get some local pastries from good ole Der Dutchman.


If you need something caffeinated, Dunkin Donuts is on hand…

…with some iced coffee.

A few of the stands serve full, sit-down breakfasts, like Tracey’s.

A lot of people will tell you to look for the big green-and-white striped tent.

The stand doesn’t have an identifiable name, but they have a full menu: sausage gravy and biscuits, pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and the like. If you’re in the mood for a hot breakfast before the Fair.

Of course, we need some representation from the American Egg Board.

Anyone else find any good breakfasts at the Fair?

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