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Blue Moon Cafe | Baltimore, MD

Blue Moon Cafe (Facebook)
1621 Aliceanna Street (map it!)
Baltimore, MD 21231
(410) 522-3940
Open Mon-Thurs, 7 am – 3 pm; Fri-Sun, 11 am – 3 pm
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Thursday, March 24, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.


Blue Moon Cafe the most anticipated of our Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives Baltimore breakfast tour. We saw the episode featuring Blue Moon last fall, and over Christmas attempted to replicate their Captain Crunch French toast. Needless to say, we were excited to try the real deal.

Blue Moon Cafe is tucked away in the delightful Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, with shops, markets, beer bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and a beautiful waterfront to enjoy. (Side note: we found a great coffee shop in the neighborhood called Latte Da – very friendly, great espresso.)

The cafe is very small: only nine tables and three seats at the counter. I think we overwhelmed them when we arrived with a group of 8, but they were able to seat us quickly. I’ve heard tell of long lines, and judging by the layout, I can see why.

The decor is a country kitsch mixed with kooky details: old fireplace mantles decorated with artsy knick-knacks, Day of the Dead-like skeletons, mis-matched tables and chairs. To add to the charm, the space itself feels like an abandoned building that’s been restored. Big brick walls. A floor that slopes towards the front of the building. And tiny gaps in the wooden floor that let you see through to the basement. Overall the feel of Blue Moon is pretty low key. There’s no website, only a small mention of the DDD visit (most other places boast huge signed posters), and the menu is a basic computer-printed sheet of paper.

FOOD: However, the low-key location belies the stellar food. The menu begins with the specialties, called the Morning Moon. These include various scrambles, huevos rancheros, burritos, lots of chorizo, hobo eggs, and old fashioned potato cakes. There are also various benedicts (veggie and Maryland crab), omelets, pancakes/French toast, while chipped beef and scrapple make appearances, too.

Behold, one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve tasted. Not the best, but certainly up in the top 5. Massive, warm, soft, and coated with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet frosting. Simply gorgeous.

Even before we visited, I knew I had to try the famous Captain Crunch French Toast. It’s not actually on the menu, but our server told us that it was available. After seeing the French toast on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, we tried making it ourselves last December, with limited success. I mean, how bad can Captain Crunch-encrusted French toast really be? Answer: not bad at all. But like any good dish, it takes refinement, and the folks at Blue Moon are famous for this dish for a reason. The plate is three thick slices of toast with fruit and homemade whipped cream. Surprisingly, it’s not as sweet as you would imagine. The use of kiwi fruit and a nice thick cream balanced the sweet Captain Crunch, syrup, and powdered sugar. And you can cut it with the side of your fork. Bingo.

Side of bacon. Very good. But overpriced at $4.00.

Excellent biscuits - very tall, served with jam and butter that’s not frozen solid (breakfast pet peeve).

The eggs benedict, as ordered by my sister-in-law. It looked perfectly delicious, and she said it was the best she’s ever had.

The hobo eggs. As expected: good and filling.

My wife ordered the special, the omelet with ham, avocado, Maryland crab, and cheese on top. She said it made a good start, but a few ingredients were off. The cheese should have been on the inside, to help hold the omelet together. And the ham overpowered everything, which is not good when working with delicate grab. It’s a Maryland crab omelet – you want to taste the crab!

SERVICE: The one real down-side to our experience was our initial reception by the servers. We walked in with a larger group – and when you walk in the door you are standing in the middle of the dining room, tables and chairs all around you – but they had room for us all. Still, the servers, particularly the woman who seemed to be heading things up, were unnecessarily surly. We got short answers, never a smile or welcome, and were hustled into our seats. She listed the specials without telling us the prices (a pet peeve of mine, especially when the special featuring a seafood omelet costs nearly TWICE as much as normal menu items). Later, I asked another server where they got their coffee. He blandly said he’d check, and then never got back to me.

I’ve read about bad service at Blue Moon on a few other review sites (Urban Spoon, Yelp, etc). I can imagine that if we had arrived on a weekend and had to wait 45+ minutes for a table and THEN ran into this service, I’d be pretty pissed off.

OVERALL: Still, the food and the fun location ultimately out-weighed the few menu-misses and the service. Our servers ultimately warmed up a little bit, and the food really was quite delicious. I recommend visiting on a week day morning – we seemed to avoid the wait that some people run into. But the menu and the location are uniquely off-kilter, with some great takes on the standard fare that make Blue Moon worth at least one visit.

OTHER LINKS:
-> Blue Moon Cafe on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives

Blue Moon Café on Urbanspoon

Broadway Diner | Baltimore, MD


Broadway Diner

6501 Eastern Ave. (map it!)
Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 631-5666
Open 24 hours a day
Accepts cash and credit cards (no separate checks!)

Date of Visit: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.


IMPRESSIONS
: Broadway Diner marked our first breakfast stop during a trip to Baltimore. We found ourselves on the trail of Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives, visiting three of his stops in the Baltimore area. Even without Guy’s visit, however, the Broadway Diner seems to be a Baltimore institution.


You can spot the diner from a mile away, with the shiny chrome building, glimmering glass, neon signs, and rounded corners. It’s probably the biggest diner I’ve ever seen. It stands up on a little hill on a busy street, close to the highway, like a monument to the American diner.


“You know you want to eat here!”


Inside it’s just as huge. A small entryway puts you at the junction of two separate dining rooms. To the right (pictured above) the diner is a little more traditional, with the big counter and rows of booths. On the left is another large room, looking much the same but with more flexible seating and movable tables.

ATMOSPHERE: We must have picked a quiet morning, because there were plenty of tables open. Which is a plus when seating six adults and two children. They put us on the left side, where they could pull a couple tables together. I can’t imagine how noisy this place could be if it were filled with customers!



The decor screamed classic diner. All of the booths looked like this: mirrored walls, vinyl seats, mini jukeboxes at each table. You can just picture the milkshakes and cast of Happy Days there…


FOOD
: Broadway Diner boasts a pretty huge menu on the breakfast side: tons of omelets (Greek, lox, Philly cream cheese), pancakes/French toast/waffles, simple breakfast standards w/eggs and meat, bagels, cereals, burritos, and more. A big menu to fit a big location. Our server told us the waffles were the house specialty (although none of us ordered one!). And they’ve got a number of fun items thrown in amongst the traditionals: pigs in a blanket (sausage wrapped in pancakes), scrapple omelets, homemade blintzes.


Our sister-in-law tried the fresh spinach omelet and really liked it. Loaded with colorful vegetables, served with a side of potatoes or grits.


My wife had the creamed chipped beef, which was very good. I liked the thin-sliced beef – it gave the dish a creamier texture.


My brother-in-law and cousin (please note: they’re two separate people) ordered the hobo banquet. Broadway Diner claims to have invented the dish: it’s a skillet of potatoes covered with American cheese and two eggs. I love the name. I don’t love American cheese – I find it kinda gross. And there are so many good cheeses out there! It’s like drinking Budweiser when you’ve got a perfectly good craft beer sitting nearby. (Can I get an “Amen?”)


I chose what is rapidly becoming a breakfast favorite for me: the eggs benedict. This was a fine example: thick grilled Canadian bacon, eggs poached just right, with a tasty hollandaise. The sauce could have used a little more punch (where’s the paprika?), and the bacon, while delicious, was a little too tough. You should be able to cut through eggs benny with the side of your fork. But the portions were huge, and coupled with a mug of some weak diner brown coffee, it made for a good breakfast.


SERVICE
: Our server was very good. She told us right away that she was new, and while it showed, she still handled our large group quickly and graciously.

OVERALL: I can see why Broadway Diner is an institution, and this from only trying the breakfast. With such a huge location, diverse menu, and round-the-clock open hours, it’s an easy place to go for a good, solid meal.

OTHER LINKS:
-> Broadway Diner on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives

Broadway Diner on Urbanspoon

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