Before proceeding, I need to state, yet again, how much it pains me when breakfast joints don't serve, or make available as an upcharge, real maple syrup. Instead, we're handed a sticky dispenser filled with a sugary simulacrum that has no business existing. I understand that many grew up pouring this cloying swill onto their pancakes, but some of the nasty junk that goes into making this "syrup" (look up sodium hexametaphosphate) is more suitable for bathroom renovations than breakfast. So, trust me when I say, bring your own maple syrup to the Egg and I – there's no shame in it, and it might end up being the best thing you taste at this hopping SoDo sit-down.
They don't take reservations, so if you're going on a weekend morning, consider calling ahead. It'll limit your time standing in the waiting area staring at the yellow walls decked with art emblazoned with chickens and butterflies and words like "Fresh Strawberries" and "Old Fashioned Golden Pears." The menu lists both breakfast and lunch fare, but we were here for the former and after some requisite coffee ($2.59; $2.79 dark roast), we dug in to platters that, at first blush, seemed somewhat run-of-the-mill. "Viva la France" French toast ($8.79) came with two pieces of batter-dipped and griddled sourdough bread, two scrambled eggs, two chewy pieces of bacon and, yes, "warm syrup." The French toast might have made more of an impact had the slices been of a thicker cut; as it stood, this dish was as meh as meh can come. Sunrise chile rellenos ($9.29) were a head-scratcher. Nothing on the plate resembled chile rellenos and, lo siento, a sliver of roasted green pepper cooked in an omelet topped with salsa just didn't cut it. Neither did the accompanying roasted potatoes, a third of which were overcooked. The garden frittata ($8.79) was actually a little watery – possibly a result of the tomatoes, green peppers, portobello mushrooms and baby spinach being cooked with the eggs, instead of being sautéed first. The side of grainy, not creamy, instant grits was just plain sad.
The strawberry-banana waffles ($9.99) were, as one of my dining comrades said, "better than IHOP." Not sure if that was a good or bad thing, but they were straightforward waffles topped with strawberries, bananas and walnuts. The platter comes with two eggs (your choice of preparation) and the aforementioned chewy, not crispy, bacon. The most pleasing item, in terms of aesthetics and taste, was the Hiker's Benedict ($9.59). Even the dill hollandaise looked good atop the poached eggs, diced ham, asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes. Still had to contend with that not-so-crispy bacon, though.
As far as breakfast joints go, the Egg and I is as pedestrian as it gets – nothing fancy, nothing remarkable, just an average restaurant with an average array of pre-noon pick-me-ups. On the back wall of the restaurant is a piece of framed art reading, "Mother always told you to eat a good breakfast!" After eating here, we felt we should've listened to mom.
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